Lessons not learned

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
–  George Santayana

Apparently the connections of the recently departed Go Between failed to get this memo. 

After the Grade 1-winning Point Given horse died in his stall following a cardiac episode, The Blood Horse reports owner/breeder Peter Vegso said the horse would be cremated and no further tests would be conducted to explore the cause of death.

With all due respect and condolences to the horse’s connections, this is not the thing to do.

In a post-Eight Belles world where every high-profile Thoroughbred death is put under scrutiny, people are going to raise questions about what caused Go Between’s heart to betray him.

Before I go on, let me state that I am in no way accusing anyone in the Go Between camp of any wrongdoing. Let’s get that out there right now.

However, there are people and groups (starts with a “P”, ends with an “ETA”) who live for days like this so they can leap out in front of the nearest camera and cry “inhumanity.” The only way to silence these rabble rousers is to provide clear documentation stating that what happened to Go Between was due to natural causes and nothing else. Opting to close the book so quickly leaves too much room for people to make up their own stories.

To understand why this is important, we need only to look back at everything the connections of Eight Belles went through this summer following his star filly’s breakdown. Trainer Larry Jones even cited the public’s treatment following the race as a factor in his leanings toward retirement. Granted, his horse broke down on the biggest stage of them all and not in the barn following a workout, but in the end they are different roads to the same destination.

Now imagine the firestorm that would have erupted had Jones and owner Rick Porter not decided to schedule a detailed autopsy for Eight Belles. People would have accused them of pumping the horse up with enough drugs to give Keith Richards pause whether they had done it or not. Getting the tests done may not have gotten the naysayers completely off their backs, but it helped.

Again, I am not making accusations. I’m just looking out for the best interests of Go Between’s connections and ask them to consider the examples of the past before sending their horse to his final resting place. It may cost a little more now, but just think of the stress it will save in the long run.

A few other spare thoughts…

– My most recent Haiku Handicapper entry breaking down the Eclipse Award nominees made Raceday 360’s “Best of the Wire” list. This could very well be the most exciting thing to happen to me in 2009.

– Am I the only one who is looking forward to Da’Tara’s stallion career if only because someone will inevitably name one of his foals “Da Bears?”

– A question I posed on Foolish Pleasure‘s blog and will ask you as well: Does Rick Porter/Fox Hill Farm recieve any owner Eclipse buzz if Eight Belles had not broken down at the Kentucky Derby? Also, will people take that (and the potential PETA backlash of giving Porter the award, even a year and a half later) into consideration if Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire go on to put him in the discussion in 2009? 

– I’m going to keep my “Photo of the Year” poll up for a little while longer. Be sure to get your vote in if you have not already. If anything else, cast a vote to break the tie between the two leaders (or get your friends together and vote for a new leader!). A link to the nominees can be found above and below the poll, as well as a few posts down from here.

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6 Comments

Filed under Commentary

6 responses to “Lessons not learned

  1. Well, it was a tough call between “The Champ” and “Rolling Start,” but I had to go with Curlin. Sentiment won out over art. And this post made it into “Best of …” as well — you’re starting 2009 on fire.

  2. Amateurcapper

    I’m so in agreement with you on the transparency issue. However, it seems that the “outsiders” in the game (read: horseplayers and/or horse racing enthusiasts) are more concerned about it than the insiders. I’d think Mr. Vegso, who not only owned GO BETWEEN but also bred the horse, would find the cost of the autopsy small potatoes considering his horse earned almost $3 million. It’s not an investment he makes to profit by, but it’d be a vital education tool for all of horse racing to benefit from.
    Congrats on making the Raceday 360 site.
    On the owner of the year…Fox Hill Farms has had great success over the last two years, EIGHT BELLES included prior to her demise. It looks like a third straight big year can put him in the running.

  3. I’m with you on the Go Between issue as well. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t want to know if there was or wasn’t an underlying medical issue.

    And speaking of owners as candidates for 2009 Eclipse, I gagged when I read Joe DeVivo’s masterful piece of propaganda for butcher Michael Gill over at the DRF: http://www.drf.com/news/article/101031.html

    Talk about the quintessential poster child for the ethically-challenged.

  4. Freddy

    What about the cows-literally millions are killed everyday for food purposes. Yet, there are no “save the cows” outcry.? Why? a few horses die, but what about the cows.

  5. mibredclaimer

    Jessica,
    Thanks for the vote and for putting me on the “Best of…” list again. As always, I am glad to see you enjoy my posts.

    I was rather surprised it took this long for someone to vote for the Curlin picture. I figured the name recognition alone would have at least drawn a few votes.

    Amateurcapper,
    I fully agree that Go Between should have more than paid for the cost of his own autopsy. I understand it is hard to justify spending that kind of time and money on a dead horse, but it could save a lot of headaches later from a PR standpoint.

    Also, I never thought about it from an educational standpoint, but this would be an intriguing case study.

    Foolish Pleasaure,
    Ah, yes. I remember Mr. Gill from T.D. Thornton’s book “Not by a Long Shot.” Can’t say I’m a fan of him either.

    Freddy,
    I believe you have missed the point here. This is not a “save the anything” post. As someone who raises horses, I am very familiar with the “shit happens” way that things can, and do, go. Sometimes horses just up and die.

    What I am concerned with is that the connections of Go Between (and the entire racing industry) could face scrutiny for being too hasty in shipping the horse to cremation without further inspecting the cause of death.

  6. Turk

    Good post. I think they should look at the underlying cause and release it to the public.

    It’s a thrill making Best of Wire….I’m sure you’ll make many more.

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