|Cuban Devil, April 27, 2014, prior to the 5th race|
The 5th Race
back legs chained and shackled
winched up into the trailer and
transferred to a refrigerated truck
until arrangements are decided, if they hadn’t been already. because it happens.
bones break all the time I am told.
not a hush
a line grows to place bets, the sixth race, simply delayed
just enough time for another beer
the party has too much momentum
to stop for such things. to care for such things. call to the post is near.
the trumpeter neatens his red velvet coat and tails
I asked an unshaped man, eyes locked to the racing form
“which one was it?”
“its just the way it goes” and he stepped aside
disappearing sideways through a slim crease in the paddock crowd
monday I found the race results in the paper
Cuban Devil, raced outside, broke down on the turn
and was humanely euthanized
it was the only epitaph there would be.
Last Sunday was the first time I ever went to the track; it was the first time I saw a live horse race. I went to see the horses and take photos, not necessarily to see the races.
Besides the Triple Crown, I really have no interest in horse racing.
Prior to the race, the horses were walked in a ring so everyone could see them. Each horse was led around a mulched circle a few times with its handler, and then the horse was “saddled” and the jockey jumped on, and the horses were walked around a few more times before heading to the track, and to the starting gate.
I randomly took pictures of some of the horses as they were being walked, including one of Cuban Devil.
We didn’t see Cuban Devil’s accident on the turn, as the inside track is walled by privet hedges that blocked most of the view from where we were standing. It was also far enough away that we couldn’t make out all that was happening, but we could catch a few glimpses.
From where we were we saw the horse limping and a horse trailer pulled by a pickup and another car driving to the scene. I watched the horse fall and then the horse trailer was backed up towards that spot. Kath and I knew what that meant.
There are injuries in every sport- athletes get concussions, torn ligaments etc. Last year a basketball player for Louisville snapped his leg in two during the NCAA tournament. Injuries are a part of sports, and horse racing is no different. The exception is that humans can heal from most injuries while horses can’t. A broken leg is fatal to a horse – even all that was done for Barbaro still could not save him.
What struck me though was by how cold the process seemed – especially that the crowd never quieted, but partied just as if nothing was happening; the dead horse didn’t matter to the crowd or the bettors, although I have to believe it did to someone. Some one had to have loved that horse. The only announcement that came was that the 6th race would be delayed a few minutes.
The entire incident still bothers me, foremost that the horse had to be euthanized, but also because I think that Cuban Devil deserved better from the crowd -a moment of silence, something said…something to show that his life mattered.
Note: Cuban Devil’s grandsire was Sunday Silence, winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.