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A Derby of mixed emotions

It should have been a glorious day in Louisville; a big boy named Big Brown won the 134th Kentucky Derby, overcoming a poor starting position and running away with the victory.

Unfortunately, it was the story of the big girl who finished behind him that overshadowed his special day. Eight Belles collapsed and had to be euthanized just after running a spectacular race of her own and placing second. She had broken both her front ankles. A horse might survive one broken ankle, even a front ankle, but it needs to have one good front ankle to balance on in order to stand. With both front ankles impaired, there was no choice but to put the filly out of her misery.

The loss of any horse during a race is tragic. To see a horse who had just run her heart out to a spectacular finish at one of the most prestigious races in the world go down and have to be euthanized is especially so. Her runner-up finish most likely would have made her a serious contender for the Preakness, and the thought of a rematch between her and Big Brown would have generated some good hype for the event. For me, it brought back way too many bad memories of the tragic end of the great filly Ruffian, who also gave her all to win and paid the ultimate price for it. It will be hard to watch the rest of the Triple Crown this year without thinking of what might have been.

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