Friday, May 14, 2010

Taking a week off

The Equine Reader is going on a brief hiatus for the next week as I prepare both for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean (riding ponies on the beach! Yes!) and then a minor surgery after which I will be recuperative and blogging-less. But before I go I thought I'd leave you with this funny little tidbit, about a very unexpected guest at Delta Downs racetracks. Here in NY racing professionals have to compete under rain, snow, and pronounced economic constraints, but as of yet, alligators are not a threat to our racing scene...

Wherever you are this weekend, have a good ride and stay out of the way of roving reptilian beasts.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Horse is Bomb Proof - Literally!

Life as a New Yorker in our post-9/11 city is normally (and perhaps surprisingly) quite free from extraneous worry about terrorist activity. New Yorkers are legendary for their ability to pick up and get moving again after even the worst of catastrophes, and the City's resolve to live unfettered by the shadow of potential terrorist activity is an idelible part of her character. It was, therefore, an unsettling shock for NYC residents this past week when a bomb was discovered simmering in a white SUV parked smack dead in the middle of Times Square. Though the bomb did not explode, and the man responsible was apprehended in the knick of time, it served as a reminder that our City is never going to be truly safe. That NYC is as safe as she is however, is by virtue of the tireless commitment that our firemen and police people undertake to keep her that way every day. We owe our calm, comfortable lives here to a swath of watchful eyes - and, as reports, a few watchful hooves as well.

Yesterday the NYPD honored Miggs the police horse, a 15-year-old equine member of last week's impromptu bomb squad, for remaining calm and performing his duties fearlessly even when faced with the smoke billowing from a bomb-packed vehicle. As his human partner Officer Wayne Ratigan reported, "Usually horses are afraid and run where there's smoke. But Miggs did what he was supposed to do. He's proven to be a bomb-proof horse."

A bomb-proof horse for a fear-proof City. Sounds like a fitting match to me. Kudos to Miggs, and everyone involved in preventing last week's bomb scare from becoming anything worse.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kings of the Derby

I really loved watching the Kentucky Derby this year. Though I was remarkably nervous leading up to it, as horse after horse was pulled, scratched, or euthanized due to injuries or training issues, once the day of the Derby arrives I can never hide my excitement. My boyfriend and I donned our Derby best, sought out a posh party in the heart of NYC, and watched the race go off in style, with Kentucky inspired drinks in hand, and large, cumbersome hats on head.

It was a both an incredibly exciting Derby this year, as the horses battled it out in terrible weather with mud slinging everywhere; and an incredibly historic one, as Todd Pletcher broke his 24 horse "Derby drought," and Calvin "Bo-Rail" kept to the inside on Super Saver to come from behind and win his third Derby in four years. When Borel promised Pletcher on camera after the race that he would take the Triple Crown this year, I doubt there was a person assembled who didn't believe he could very well make that magic happen.

It wasn't until I read this article at the Paulick Report however, that I really got a warm feeling about this year's race. In it the author recounts every jockey's response to the race, from Jose Lezcano, who rode Ice Box to second place, all the way down to Tom Amoss, who came up dead last on Backtalk. Though I would naturally have expected those comments to be euphoric and praising at the tops of the placings, and then quite a bit less so as they went down into the loser's ranks, every single jockey praised his horse and its effort, regardless of whether they placed or lost. And that to me was a real signal of how much the people closest to horse racing truly care about the animals and the sport. It was also a valuable reminder that even though TB racing industry is riddled with bad press and bad mojo at times, there are so, so many people in it who love what they do and the horses they do it with. And hopefully that will always prove to be a powerful counterbalance to racing's darker sides.

Congratulations to all of the Kings of the Derby this year, and now it's on to the Preakness!