It has been three days since the tragic events unfolded at Churchill Downs took place, wherein Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both of her front legs. Between PETA polluting the nation's airwaves (both on radio and television) and the aftermath from the perspective of Larry Jones and other associated with her, this story has gotten some serious mileage and a wide spectrum of opinions have been offered.
Well, here's where I'll put in my two cents on this matter.
If you read my user profile, you will find that I come from (and currently reside in) Saratoga Springs, New York, home to the Saratoga Race Course. As such, I make sure that horse racing gets a mention several times a year, including the 36-day meet in late summer. It was essentially the only time I put horse racing in as a diversion from baseball and auto racing in my Armchair Weekend in Review features.
To the citizens of Saratoga Springs, the track drives the local economy during the summer season, bringing in thousands of visitors from across the country – I may have exaggerated a bit, but just to give you a general idea. Now, unlike some of the residents of the Spa City, I am not a horse racing savant (I'll wager that many of you out there will be glad). While the Eight Bells tragedy has turned some people off of the sport, there are some who will still continue to watch it on TV and/or go out to their local tracks this summer to see it in person, as will yours truly once the 2008 meet begins in late July here in Saratoga. Until then, the sport will consider how to make sure anything like this doesn't happen again at any track in the United States.
One can only hope that this sport can ultimately come out of this tragedy in better shape, even two years removed from Barbaro. As a life-long citizen of a town raised on horse sense, the negative effects could be virtually devastating in the long run.