1st\NW Quadrant The Approval Matrix
LeaderEight Belles, with Gabriel Saez up, crosses the finish line in second place to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby. The filly broke both front ankles. - JANET WORNE / Lexington Herald
A filly based at Delaware Park, Eight Belles had just finished second, 43/4 lengths behind the favorite, Big Brown, in this country's biggest horse race. Galloping out a good quarter-mile after it was over - part of the normal throttling-down after every horse race - Eight Belles went down because she had suffered fractures in both front legs. A bone had broken through the skin on her left leg.
She was euthanized immediately on the track, before her trainer even knew she had been injured. His voice cracking, trainer Larry Jones later described how a shook-up [jockey] Saez had told him afterward, "Larry, they put her down." Jones said he didn't comprehend what the jockey was saying, thinking Saez had misunderstood the situation.
"I said, 'How do you put a horse like this down?' Jones said. "Man, usually, they try to save them."
But Jones said he quickly got to his horse in the equine ambulance and saw the severity of the injuries.
"I checked her for myself," Jones said. "There was no decision to be made. She did not need to suffer - and she didn't suffer." -- Philly