I don't know about anyone else, but I think PETA should find something else to complain about. Wanting to suspend Gabriel Saez, the jockey aboard Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, is ridiculous.
The passing of Eight Belles was extremely tragic, and as a horse racing fan, I never want to see something like that happen. But, for PETA to say Saez knowingly pushed the filly to her death... that claim is completely unfounded. Vets at the Derby say there is no way Eight Belles could have suffered her injury before the race ended.
Think about what PETA is claiming... If it happened as those radicals suspect, than this horse was running on two broken ankles. Yeah, not very likely.
The injury occurred when the horses slow themselves down after the race. During that time, the jockey stands up (sorry, I don't know if there is a more correct term) to relieve the weight from the horse. If those ankles were broken before the race, there's no way she would have made it that far.
I've been around the track enough to know that trainers, owners and jockeys all love the horses. I've seen that love first-hand at the Saratoga Race Course and at horse farms in the area. I know that fatalities happen, and the most current stat I've heard since Saturday's tragedy is 1.6 deaths per 1,000 races. If you factor in that there are probably an average of 8 horses per race (I'm guessing on this one), that's only around two deaths per 8,000 horses.
You have to remember, these jockeys are putting their lives on the line to ride these great athletes. I've seen three jockeys fall during one race. It happens a lot, and it's dangerous. I can be lethal.
Why would a jockey risk his life to ride a horse with broken ankle? It just doesn't make sense. PETA saying that, "Saez didn't have any regard for Eight Belles," is like saying he didn't have any regard for his own life. A statement like that is crazy or stupid, and in this case, probably both.
But there has to be someone or something to cast blame on, right? Yeah, they're trying to find something, because God knows it can't just be an unfortunate accident.
It's the whip! If PETA wants to talk about the whip, fine. It's been used in horse racing forever, but if they want to try to change something, that would be a much better place to focus their attention.
The horse was a girl! The fact that people are now saying that a filly shouldn't have run in the Derby is just as crazy as PETA. Rags to Riches beat the big boys last year, and Eight Belles obviously could have done that this year.
Too much racing! Lastly, I've heard people say that they should spread the Triple Crown races out. Normally, horses have at least a two-month rest period between races, but to win the Triple Crown, a horse must endure three races in just over a month. That's kind of the point, though. It's hard to do.
No more horses die in those races than at any other time. Besides, changing it would take all the integrity, history and drama of the Triple Crown.
Stop trying to find a reason, PETA. It's a tragedy, and one that will always be remembered by horse racing fans... but that's all it is.