I’ve always loved horses. I proudly displayed horse figurines as a child and had more than a few of my drawing of the greats like Secretariat and Man O’ War hang on the family fridge for years. But this is wrong. No animal should die for our entertainment. Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins put it far better than I ever could:
“There is no turning away from this fact: Eight Belles killed herself finishing second. She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles for the pleasure of the crowd, the sheiks, oilmen, entrepreneurs, old money from the thousand-acre farms, the handicappers, men in bad sport coats with crumpled sheets full of betting hieroglyphics, the julep-swillers and the ladies in hats the size of boats, and the rest of the people who make up thoroughbred racing. There was no mistaking this fact, too, as she made her stretch run, and the apologists will use it to defend the sport in the coming days: She ran to please herself.”
How do I feel about horse racing after this? I’m not sure. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch the Derby again without dread. And I’m not sure if I’d feel good about myself regardless. But this terribly sad turn of events has also shed some light on the human condition. First, why do we breed animals to the point that, as Jenkins wrote, they don’t have “bodies to accommodate their hearts”? Must all of the universe’s creatures be our organ-grinder monkeys?
And second, what is wrong with people who insist on using this horrible event as a metaphor for the Clinton-Obama race? Yes, Hillary was backing the filly. No, it’s not OK to gloat that her horse came in second, AND DIED, to a horse called “Big Brown.” (Actual Wonkette headline: “Hillary’s Horse Dies Embarrassingly,” and don’t even get me started on the comments.) Is this that “new kind of politics” everyone has been bragging about? Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if humans could be just a little more like the animals we think we control? Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our bodies could accommodate our hearts?