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135th Kentucky Derby

 Today is the 135th Kentucky Derby. I have conflicting emotions about horse racing and the Triple Crown. I like tradition, and the Derby is a part of my tradition. My mom’s side of the family is kind of WASP-y so some of those traditions have trickled into our lifestyle. I have a lot of fond memories of watching the Derby at my grandparents house, betting on horses (I picked the one I thought was the prettiest, my mom picked the one with the best name… etc.) and trading stories with my grandfather. He loved to tell me about the great horses of the past such as Secretariat, Seabiscuit, and Whirlaway. 

Would I love to go to Kentucky and play dress-up and drink mint juleps and sit in the boxes like a lady? Yes. Not gonna lie. Would I like to be a groom at Churchill Downs in charge of the health and happiness of these incredible athletes? Most definitely. Would I like to go be a cheap-ass sitting in the inner lawn on a blanket with a cooler full of beer being rowdy? Hell yeah! (My dad did that back in the day, holler)

But the Derby is tarnished for me and for all the people-created fun and fancy experiences I think, “is it worth it?”

It really isn’t. Too many horses are abused, neglected, and killed in the horse racing industry for this one big event (the Triple Crown as a whole) to be worth it. If the industry was able to shift and non-human athletes were treated with the same ethics as human athletes then maybe. A lot of crap goes on in the human world of sports as well; steroid use, pushing people beyond their limits, eating disorders, etc. But in the end, nobody says “oh she broke her ankle/is past her prime/has a heart condition and can’t run anymore? Might as well send her to auction where she’ll probably be bought by the kill buyers and sent to slaughter.” THAT is what happens to MOST race horses. Even the ones with good bloodlines who might have been bought for thousands or millions of dollars, sometimes it happens to the best of them. 

It all comes down to money. Until it DOESN’T, I can’t support this industry. PLEASE if you can donate to CANTER. CANTER stands for The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses

If you’re interested in finding out more about horse rescue, or the horse industries in general this is a GREAT blog! http://fuglyhorseoftheday.blogspot.com/

Alright, below is a blog entry I wrote last year that I wanted to re-post. I was really pissed at the time, so it’s not that well written but it gets my point across. I might add more later. I just hope nobody breaks any bones, dies, or has to be euthanized in the races today. 

Death By Capitalist Culture – written May 3rd, 2008

In the past three days I have shed a lot of tears. Unashamed and certainly warranted, though not necessarily understood by others. Why? Well I’ve cried for Deborah Jeane Palfrey who appeared to have committed suicide at her mother’s home after being sentenced to up to 55 years in prison for running a “high-end prostitution ring”. Today I cried when the three year old filly, Eight Belles, was euthanized on the track at Churchill Downs after coming in second in the Kentucky Derby. Why wouldn’t people understand my tears? Well, for one I had no personal attachment to either woman or filly. I didn’t know them, or anyone who did. For a lot of people that’s enough reason to not get upset over things. I can understand that, but I’m not wired that way. I tend to empathize with the world.

Why did I cry for them? I cried because nobody should have to resort to suicide. I cried because I’ve been there, I’ve believed it’s the only way out of the pain and confusion this world can bring. I cried because it might not have been suicide, someone (or several people) might have been so afraid of the information she had about them that they were compelled to take her life away. Though really, she was going to prison so essentially the justice system already took her life away, they needed to take her voice away. To ultimately silence her for their own security. Either way, this should never have happened because she should never have been given that sentence. Hard criminals who actually hurt people are given more lenient sentences than that. I cried because our culture-civilized capitalist society- continues to be allowed to suppress and kill. Nobody is free, stop fooling yourselves!

I cried because we continue to destroy anything for the sake of money. A 17hh three year old filly was pushed beyond her body’s limit. Two of her fetlocks (ankles) were shattered after she gave her all in a strenuous “prestigious” race. She was a BABY, her bones were not done growing! Yet we push these horses for the glory and flash of “tradition”. Not to mention the millions of dollars. No of course we can’t wait until they’re matured, of course we have to start working them under saddle as yearlings! Make money now, who cares if they’re broken down at five years old? Horses are dispensable. Just buy another one!

So when are the masses going to wake up? Sex workers don’t hurt anybody, in fact more harm is done to them on a regular basis. Thoroughbreds are living complex creatures with intelligence and personalities who happen to be able to run fast. Why don’t we, as a culture, find a way to appreciate their entire beings instead of simply treating them as machines? I’m sure you can find a way to continue to gamble and make money without ruining millions of animals in the process. 

We deserve better. We’re all connected. Whether or not you are a sex worker, know any, have contact with any, whether or not you work in the racing industry, ride horses, or have ever even been around them… harm done is harm done to all. It permeates throughout the collective consciousness and everyone believes it’s just the way it is, nothing can be done about it. 


Things can change. We are the change. And no this is not an Obama campaign. Think for yourself. Question everything. Align yourself with whatever you believe and do something!


Eight Belles

Eight Belles



Eight Belles before she was euthanized

Eight Belles before she was euthanized

  1. May 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I too feel a bit conflicted about the Derby. There is so much glitz and glamour surrounding it that I think sometimes people forget about the horses and how much they have to endure in THAT race.

    There is no doubt that I believe thoroughbreds just love to run. It’s like huskies and other northern breeds who were born to run. But I think there is a right way of doing it and a wrong way. People want so much instant gratification that they forget about building the foundation.

    Horses and horse racing is a BIG industry here, and it is sad that in the end, it does come down to money. It never seems right whatsoever.

    • 700stories
      May 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      yea I totally agree TBs love to run. And many horses love to jump, I know horses (all different types of breeds, even a clydesdale!) who i’ve seen loose in a ring with jumps set up and they voluntarily play and jump them. I wish the sport was about partnership and healthy competition, not greed.

      The reason Eight Belles broke her fetlocks was because they weren’t done GROWING. She was 17hh at 3 years old, so she wasn’t even fully grown. I wish we didn’t race BABIES!!!! But people are so set on short cycle of weaning and selling by 6 months, into training as yearlings, racing by 2 for the big time at 3… they’re broken by 5! And it’s not just the TB racing industry, this happens a lot on the Quarter Horse circuit as well. 😦

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