Thursday, August 7, 2008

Call to the Post

Even though I am firmly committed to detailing the valuable contributions that Seaside therapeutic riding makes to the Metro NYC community, my experience with them provides only limited fodder for the pages of this blog. I want to post regularly, and often, and have therefore decided to expand this blog towards another end - that of providing breaking equine industry news and investigations into issues affecting our horselives.

  • In the spirit of the summer racing season, I have first to report on Big Brown's recent return to the winner's circle at last weekend's Haskell Invitational (gr. 1) at Monmouth Park, in NJ. After his abysmal failure in this year's Belmont Stakes (gr. 1), Brownie took a little time off to rest and regroup and has apparently rebounded in his same old style. Though there was some grousing that he didn't dominate the race in his traditional way, Brownie still came back to the scene on top. The racing pundits spent the week debating when and where his next great test might be, with suggestions ranging from a duel with racing's Horse of the Year, Curlin, at Saratoga's Woodward Stakes (gr. 1), to an as of yet undecided turf experience, to a showdown in this year's Breeder's Cup Classic (gr. 1). As of today it was officially reported that Brownie will not go head to head with Curlin in the Woodward, leaving the "who's this year's greatest?" question unanswered, at least until fall.

  • Another noteworthy racing event occurred on opening weekend at New York's famed Saratoga Racecourse, with the 7-year old gelding Commentator winning the Whitney Handicap (gr. 1) for his second, non-consecutive time. (He also accomplished the feat in 2005.) This gelding's win is unique on three accounts: his age (7 years is relatively old for a racehorse to remain competitive), his sex (geldings are not usually considered to have the stamina and strength required to compete effectively against their "intact" male counterparts, as they lack the high levels of muscle building testosterone naturally present in a stallion), and the fact that he's running with pins stabilizing his left front shin. Commentator was laid up twice for as long as 10 months after winning his first Whitney due to fractures in his cannon bone. This last item has not received a great deal of news coverage, and yet stands out to me as compelling proof that the horseracing industry is very often about putting fame and glory before the welfare of the horse. I'm not sure I know of another event where a horse with his leg pinned together would be considered fit for high-impact competition, but perhaps such considerations aren't warranted by the racing world. At any rate, in winning this race with such aplomb, Commentator joins the ranks of Forego and Kelso, two racing legends whose careers also included double (or triple!) Whitney wins. He also secures himself a berth in the upcoming Breeder's Cup Classic (gr. 1) , thanks to the Whitney Handicap's "Win and You're In" association.

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