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Eight Belles Rings Emotional Toll

May 4, 2008

For the first time in 30 years of following two year old thoroughbreds in sales and training, I abandoned their progress during 2007. Even after they turned three, in January this year, my passion was not with who was running and maturing in the late winter and early spring prep races.

Finally, last Monday, encouraged by a visit from my friends Ross and Ronnie of the Derby Museum, I decided it was time to get serious about a Kentucky Derby selection. A filly, they mentioned, was running. She was gray. I loved her name. Instantly Eight Belles, over a friendly dinner conversation, became my favorite. How easy was that?

We laughed as I told them about my 100 point opening score with EQUINES in a current Scrabulous game. “Just drop $100 on the filly and be done with it,” Ronnie teasingly suggested.

When the post positions were announced, I ran a little digit summing exercise with the letters of her name. I was fascinated when both the numerical pattern and her draw for post position produced the single-digit five. I also checked the historical report for my genealogy index. Amazingly there were eight women named Belle in my Louisville relatives’ line.

Truth be known, my actual handicapping skills have sometimes left something to be desired. Maybe it was time to go with a seemingly perfect alignment of signs?

I played her. I watched and cheered for her. I was stunned when she didn’t survive the gallop out and never returned to the barn.

I am not a brave better so I am thankful for the $10 win ticket I now have as a treasure. But I have to tell you, the $30 across the board became the toughest ticket I have gone to cash, ever.

Eight Belles CJ newspaper story and red rose

This may be the sport of kings. This surely is a game of fragility. My heart tells me that I need no further signs to know it is time, once again, to give these young thoroughbreds a rest.

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