Favorite Big Brown, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, won the 134th Kentucky Derby in an impressive show of strength and stamina, with a deliberate, powerful charge from the final turn. Tragically, after running a superb, courageous race, the big filly Eight Belles (left, above), who came in second, broke both front ankles while pulling up and had to be euthanized on the track where she fell—which surely brought back to many people in the racing world shocking echoes of the brilliant and still much-lamented Ruffian.* Big Brown, who became the first horse to win from the 20th position since 1929, won going away, with little sign of fatigue. In fact he had so much energy left over he even tossed his rider after the end of the race.
Track personnel try to hold down Eight Belles after the 134th Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 3, 2008, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both front ankles following a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. (Photo credit: Brian Bohannon, AP)
The sad fate of Eight Belles is a great tragedy that marred an otherwise fine race, and our condolences go out to her whole team.
*At the link (The 1975 Mother Goose), watch how she's just loping along the backstretch (around 1:00), then watch her come alive just past the half-mile post and turn on the burners, at about 1:13. And then that finish, when she gains ten lengths on the field in the last quarter. What a totally magnificent runner.