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A possible solution to the "Eight Belles" problem in horse racing

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by 93Devil, May 5, 2008.

  1. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I was talking to a buddy who I consider to be pretty darn kn owedgable on horses. Not horse racing, but horses, and I asked him about what happened this weekend with Eight Belles going down.

    He had a suggestion that I have not read or heard before, set an age limit in horse racing.

    He said horses are raced at far too young an age and their bodies are not ready for it. He added that a two-year-old is the equivalent of a teenager, and their bodies are still growing. This stress on the legs, which are still undeveloped, causes many of the injuries (four horses in one week at one track, right, Moddy?) that we are seeing.

    At four years old a horse is mature, and he added that many horses keep their same speed at four as they would at two or in their first year.

    The down side is that it costs more to raise the horse for two extra years, so obviously this idea would need policed.

    Just an interesting viewpoint, and I am hoping a poster with a lot more background than myself can shed a little more information on this suggestion.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to move this to a board where it will get more commentary than it might here.

    It is not a crazy suggestion.
    Actually, a 3-year-old is like a teen-ager. A 4-year-old is like a college senior. That's why the best 3s don't usually compete well against the best 4s.
    The allure of the Triple Crown races, and money that goes along with being a TC race winner, may indeed push some horses to do more than they are ready for at that age.
    I'd be willing to accept no racing until 3, with limits, and Triple Crown races for 4-year-olds.

    Yes, Devil, four in five days at the local track.
  3. ondeadline

    ondeadline Active Member

    <a href="http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/eight_belles">This is what PETA says that relates to your point:</a>

  4. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link.

    PETA is just so extreme. I think they yell so much it just sounds like white noise.

    Maybe another group can champion this as well? Who? I don't know.
  5. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    No Kentucky Derby until they graduate college.
  6. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    I've actually heard this from a trainer before.
    The number of 2-year olds hurt (and put down) is probably higher than what anyone knows because of the number of small tracks where racing is taking place and where announcements to a crowd of 35 people isn't necessary.
  7. ink-stained wretch

    ink-stained wretch Active Member

    Another factor is the breeding. I would bet the vast majority of this year's entrants are out of Native Dancer. All flash, no structure. Greedheads and blood lines will kill off another sport.
  8. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    There should be some requirements made to introduce sturdier bloodlines into the thoroughbreds. Yes, it would mean a slight loss in performance, but if the greatest two minutes in sports had to become the greatest two minutes and five seconds in sports, I think it would be worth the effort.
  9. Stoney

    Stoney Well-Known Member

    If it would make a difference, this seems like a completely logical and reasonable change to make--just up racing's age requirements one year and make the Triple Crown races for four year olds instead of three.

    The only downside to it I see is financial: having to pay for an extra year of care and feeding before you can start making money off your horses. But in our greed-driven society that might be just enough to ensure the change is never made.
  10. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Interesting that you mention that. I think people are starting to come around to the idea (if ever so slowly) that breeders may actually be hindering the evolution of thoroughbreds in a way.

    If you look at the winning times of Triple Crown races over the years, they are not going down. Their performances simply aren't improving the way one might expect, or the way, say, humans are improving in track and field or swimming, for example.

    I think Secretariat still holds the 1 1/4-mile record some 35 years later.

    Part of that may be that thoroughbreds are becoming inbred. If they mated horses outside of a certain bloodline, breeders may think they are losing certain attributes of that bloodline. The gamble is that they would be introducing other variations that may or may not improve performance. With all the money at stake, they're willing to dance with the devil they know rather than risking bad variations "polluting" a strong bloodline.

    All this inbreeding may be eliminating a lot of the variations that lead to the growth/evolution of a species.
  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    I say, let the quarterhorses into Churchill Downs! They'll smoke those thoroughinbreds.
  12. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    I'm sure Sonny Vaccaro will come out against this any moment now.
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