Most years I watch the Triple Crown Races over and over again.
Not this year. I was prepared to see if Barbaro could set a hot pace through the mile and 3/16 and run away from the field like he did in the Kentucky Derby. He was clearly antsy and eager to run before the race, more so than any of the other horses in the scant field of nine. (The only other one who looked ready for the fast sprint race was Bernardino, but he was less combative.)
Once the horses were in the starting gate, Barbaro burst through the barrier before the starting bell, delaying the race a few minutes until they could assess that he was all right. He was fine, and was reloaded to the gate.
They were off!
But when all eyes should have been on the front runners, with Like Now setting a fast pace and Sweetnorthernsaint breathing on his shoulder, the focus was on Barbaro, who was fought to a stop (he wanted to keep on running) by his jockey, Edgar Prado -- because in the first brutal acceleration, Barbaro's right hind leg broke (the jockey on the horse behind him heard it crack) and then as he continued to try to run, broke the leg in a second spot.
Bernardino won, but all I can see in my mind is the footage that shows Barbaro trying to make that foot work while Prado hauls him to a stop. It looked like a rag on the end of a horse-leg, flopping in horrible directions sure to give horse-lovers nightmares all over the world.
Totally unrelated to the early break from the gate, they're saying. But right after he'd burst through the barrier on the untimely break, my son-in-law said with conviction, "Pull him! If he was my horse I'd pull him from the race until I knew he was all right!"
Ah, if they could have listened to my son-in-law, John, Barbaro would be sound tonight.
Congrats to Bernardino, and his owner and trainer, but what a sad and lonely win.