Remembering a Great Filly

Share your thoughts and memories of Eight Belles in the "memory wall" below. She was a great champion in the making; she will be missed.

In honor of Eight Belles, consider donating to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc or another Equine Charity. Donations to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc in memory of Eight Belles go directly toward prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.


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Denise S.

I was watching the Kentucky Derby, Saturday. What a great race! But my heart fell to the ground after seeing Eight Belles laying on the ground. My heart goes out to all the people involved with her. It was a tragic loss. I thing the horses should be wearing some kind of support wraps on their legs. Of all the equine doesn't have them. My daughter barrel races and does speed events and wouldn't run the horse without them. And she is a veternarian.  It may not prevent all injuries but I believe it could help. I really want to attend a Derby someday but now I'm not so sure I want too. These equines give their everything for our enjoyment. At least we could try to give them something in support on their legs. A horse that young, the legs are still developing and what they do, has got to be some of the reasons whey they breakdown. I just thought I'd send my opinion and idea. Again, my condolences to the Eight Belles and company. And congrats to the winner. Hopefully he can do it this year. Got my fingers crossed.

06 May 2008 8:45 AM
Sandi Z.

I watched the race Ruffian broke down in. I quit watching racing after that - until Funny Cide.  Now I've seen Pine Island, Barbaro, Mending Fences, George Washington, and Eight Belles. The good things like Funny Cide and Smarty Jones got me watching again. Now I'm thinking I need to turn away again. Can seeing a triple crown winner be worth all this? I guess that makes me a "bleeding heart". The comment "oh that's just a part of racing" seems so hollow.  If this is a part  of racing, does it have to keep being a part of racing? I know once they break a leg it's too late. Is there some kind of intervention possible before that point? If I thought the powers that be in racing were still looking, it would help.  But turning a cold shoulder is not enough.  Maybe racing deserves to loose followers. Think about it.

06 May 2008 8:47 AM
Sandy N.

With the loss of Eight Belles, yet another major race day was marred by tragedy. We saw Chelokee and the filly breakdown on Derby weekend. The last four Breeder’s Cups have had breakdowns, the most recent ones being George Washington, Pine Island, and Fleet Indian.

One has to ask, why so many breakdowns in the U.S.? What is the impact on racing fans? Have we drugged horses for so many years that the gene pool is weakened?

As an industry, the comment “That’s racing…” doesn’t cut it any more. We need answers and solutions if this sport is to survive and the athletes, who put their lives on the line each day, are to thrive. I can guarantee you that if the fatality rates were proportionately as high in football as in racing, the sport would be banned.

There is still another issue that is not getting enough attention, the fate of retiring and injured horses on the lower end of racing – the claimers. These horses have fought their way through dozens of races, several owners, and declining careers, only to end up like Cappucino Kid, on his way to a Mexican slaughterhouse before being rescued in the eleventh hour.

I have been an avid fan of racing for years, but I am increasingly disheartened by the accidents and the lack of retirement planning for these heroic athletes. More frequently I find myself watching Standardbred racing, where breakdowns seldom happen.

06 May 2008 8:48 AM
Diane I.

I live in Maine where there are few people who follow thoroughbred racing.  It gets lonely out here, especially when tragedy strikes, as it did today.  I watch horse racing every day on HRTV and TVG, and every time they go to the post I ask the gods to make it a safe race.  I am not religious, so I pray to all the gods.  The last two years have been tough--Pine Island,  George Washington, Barbaro and always distant memories of Ruffian. Friday was tough with Michael Matz's horse Chelokee.  I just wanted the Kentucky Derby to be without injury.  Not to be.  Immediately I asked myself why I watch thoroughbred racing.   As soon as the horses ran under the finish line my daughter called me to say what a great race Eight Belles ran and how proud we were of her.  Two minutes later we were on the phone again wondering why we watch horse racing when things like this happen.  We always question running two year olds, especially with a big horse like Eight Belles.  In the end, we recognized that we love our dogs, our cats and the horses we have owned, one of whom lost her life after suffering a broken leg from a kick by another horse in the field.  We recognized that we would never trade the joy that each and every one of these animals brought to our lives.  We recognized that animals have brought us such companionship and happiness in our lives that we would continue to follow the sport. But, at the same time we hope and support continued vigilance and research to lessen these kinds of catastrophic injuries.  We never forget the horses, who are not famous, who  give their heart and soul in the sport of racing.  We mourn the loss of Eight Belles and urge the entire industry to search endlessly for better answers to lessen these catastrophic injuries and in so doing honor Barbaro, Ruffian, Pine Island, Eight Belles,  and the thousands of other horses who have given their all and lifted our spirits.  We especially send our most heartfelt condolences to the owners, trainer and jockey of Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 8:50 AM
Carlene Nusbaum

I was cheering for Eight Belles since she was the only filly running in the Kentucky Derby only to be saddened by this tragedy.  She really did run the race of her life and she will always have a place in my heart.  My sympathies go out to the trainer, the owners and all who played a part in her racing career.

06 May 2008 8:50 AM
Melissa G.

This year I watched my twelfth Derby with one of my good friends who is a big sports fan in general but had never taken any interest in horse racing.  I explained many things to her about the Derby from graded stakes earnings, to jockeys to why I thought Colonel John was at a disadvantage despite his stellar track record on synthetic surfaces.  I told her that the Derby experience would mean a lot more to her if she picked a horse to root for.  She agreed and picked Eight Belles (I picked Tale of Ekati).  Into the stretch both of us were cheering hard for Eight Belles.  Being a veteran of Barbaro I knew what was coming when the camera showed the stricken filly lying on the track after her courageous effort.  After answering every question my friend asked me about the Kentucky Derby and racing the only one I couldn't answer was, why did such a magnificent horse die?  We will still be great friends but I don't think we will watch the Preakness together.

06 May 2008 8:50 AM

You gave us such a thrill. You gave us your all... We will forever keep you in our hearts. God Speed "Belle"

06 May 2008 8:50 AM

What a beautiful horse and bless her for running so hard to come in second.  We will always remember the valiant effort she gave until the end.  We would have loved to see you race again and the memory of you running for your life will always be with us.

We will see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

06 May 2008 8:53 AM
Lexie C

Eight Belles was such a beautiful filly.  She was outstanding in the Derby running her heart out and beating 18 males.  For a few precious seconds I almost dreamed she might catch the big guy. No matter.  She is a true chamipion.  I don't think I will ever forget jumping up and down and screaming so hard when she came in second behind Big Brown.  It was so short lived.  Her fall and death hit me so hard as I know it has everyone especially her connections.  I won't ever forget her.  RIP sweet girl.

06 May 2008 8:54 AM
Randy in Lakeland

The greatest sport in the world I lived for 45 years. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows were displayed all in one minute. I miss the highs but not those lows as shown Saturday.

I know all about it as a wonderful gray filly was 10 minutes from being a champion at Belmont Park Breeders Cup but it was gone in a minute as something spooked her and she flip over injuring her head. She died 5 days later in her stall at Belmont Park barn 31.

My heart go out to Larry Jones and Tom Porter for their lost because it hurts as I have lived it.

06 May 2008 8:55 AM
C. M. Zawalich, Newburyport. MA

Up through an empty house of stars,

Being what heart you are,

Up the inhuman steeps of space

As on a staircase go in grace,

Carrying the firelight on your face

Beyond the loneliest star.

Farewell, gallant spirit.  You were a true Thoroughbred.

06 May 2008 9:07 AM
Catherine Owen

I think this was a bizarre incident, but weird things happen when you are asking two and three year olds to push their limits.

Eight Belles was a big, growthy filly that pushed herself to the extreme. Obviously she had tremendous heart and drive. Obviously she was not ready for the task. Big Brown is a bruiser and nobody was going to catch him on Saturday. I truly think he is phenomenal and will be hard for anyone to catch over the next 5 weeks.

But Eight Belles gave it her best. I think she was running on adrenaline at the end and (in my mind anyway) most likely sustained an injury to one ankle in the stretch drive---which was one brutal dash. She and the rest of the pack looked like those racing greyhounds trying to catch "Lucky". She continued galloping out, injured it further and then hurt her other ankle trying to "save herself". These horses will keep trying to run no matter what, that's what they are bred to do. Not all jockeys have the luck/strength/tenacity of Edgar Prado (when he pulled Barbaro up). A lot of the time, these horses hurt themselves and just keep "flying" on heart and adrenaline, the jockey may not realize it until "reality" crashes in. It is not fair to place blame on Gabriel Saez.

In fact, its no one's "fault". And that is probably the hardest thing to accept about this. The filly was loved and well-cared for and everyone thought she had a shot at the Roses. NO ONE in her connections ever dreamed of this. I think the people around her are good people and Larry Jones is best known for his prowess with fillies and mares, he is one of the best when it comes to running "the girls". I honestly think if soundness had been an issue with the filly prior to the race, they would NOT have run her. Her connections are very intelligent and well-respected. And after the very public and long-drawn out Barbaro ordeal, horse racing itself did not need another "black eye" on NBC Sports on a Saturday afternoon.

But, no one could have predicted this. Breakdowns occur around the world on a daily basis, both during races and in training.  They just aren't so public as this and Barbaro was.

06 May 2008 9:20 AM
Sharon Polk Smith

May there be a field of sweet clover in Heaven for her.

06 May 2008 9:28 AM

She was such a gorgeous filly... I will never forget cheering, out loud, "She's going to come in second!!!!!!!!"

I will never, ever forget Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 9:29 AM
Susan Monaco

My heart fell when I saw that poor filly on the ground. I knew instantly.....she was dead. I love horse racing but have always believed that it's not they are pushed too hard (as PETA wants all to believe), it is that they are pushed too soon.  I've been a firm believer that racing can continue, but should be delayed until 3-4 years of age when these beautiful creatures have a chance to have their growth plates fuse and their bones strengthen. Yes, there are some trainers that push too hard (hey, every industry has their abusers), but the problem lies in not taking into account that the thoroughbreds bound for the track grow at a faster rate than horses bred to remain as family pets. Race horses are given supplements and outstanding feed and their growth spurts are phenomenal. Unfortunately, they are not given the chance to develop propertly before they are stressed with the rigors of training and racing.  Let racing continue for the beauty of it and the fact that many of these animals do indeed love what they do; but please give them the chance to develop to avoid these tragedies.

Eight Belles you will be remembered along with Barbaro.

06 May 2008 9:31 AM
MJ, Simpsonville, SC

I'm sorry Belle.  You didn't deserve this ending.  Like Barbaro, there was a higher purpose for you.  You will always be missed and loved.  My deepest sympathies to you, your trainer and owner.

06 May 2008 9:32 AM

I was, as all who watched, shocked to see the breakdown of this filly, who had seemingly had a great day.

My heart goes out to those who loved her. However, this is becoming too common in racing, and attention should be paid to more by way of prevention. I am not convinced this conclusion was not preventable. She deserved better. Enough said.

06 May 2008 9:34 AM
Deby Campana

Alot of people can't get past the sadness regarding Eight Belles.  Myself included.  I still have a hardtimte regarding Barbaro and I have followed Chelokee since his 3 year old campaign.  It's very upsetting to see a horse breakdown let alone be euthanized on the track.  I feel that i have to reach out to these owners who make serious money on their horses.  I read about Cappuchino Kid being rescued.  Don't these owners have a game plan about retirement after racing or breeding?  It makes me want to play Lotto everyday so I can buy a farm in upstate NY for a retirement horse santuary that would not just be for Thoroughbreds.  Owners need to please think about their horse's futures.  It makes me sick every time I think about Ferdinand. I hope you put this on the site so other people can read and think about it.

06 May 2008 9:36 AM

Eight Belles ran her heart and her life out on Saturday.  She proved she belonged in the race with the boys.  I'm heartbroken at how it ended.  

What to do with the heartbreak?  Press and hope for changes and innovations in the sport to make it safer.  And, perhaps even more importantly, go save another one.  Beautiful Eight Belles is gone, but somewhere there's a Thoroughbred leaving the racetrack who doesn't have to die.  Send something to TB Friends, CANTER, or ReRun in her honor.  

06 May 2008 9:42 AM
Cassandra, Grove City, OH

My heart is breaking...again.


Go For Wand


Pine Island

Eight Belles

06 May 2008 9:50 AM

I'm heartsick over the passing of Eight Belles. She was a magnificent beauty who did not deserve the ending she got.  She finished first in my book.  I just wish I could stop being so sad for her and her connections.  I can't get though a single day so far without thinking of her.  :(

06 May 2008 9:50 AM

I was very saddened to see Eight Belles go down after the Derby and the end result was tragic.I thinks the track surfaces maybe where the answer is in preventing this from happening.When Earnhardt died Nascar has been focused on keeping the drivers safe.The best way to honor these great thoroughbreds is making the changes so future mishaps with such heart wrenching results do not occur.I hope Eight Belles was told how much she was loved and how great she was.

06 May 2008 9:52 AM

She was beautiful, poised beyond her years, and had the heart of a champion. I can't imagine watching another race after being so thrilled over her wonderful effort, then to see her gone in the blink of an eye. Is anything worth the loss of such a magnificent, innocent creature? Belle, you will love on in all of our memories, and your spirit runs free still. Rest in peace.

06 May 2008 10:02 AM

It was truely a sad day. It was a  tragic loss.  Horses end up being like children to us. Watching them grow up we see there querks and know there personalities and when something like this happen our heart breaks. My heart broke and when I heard of Eight Belles's break down I wept. In a situation like this people need not think about how she died but celebrate how she lived. Eight Belles was a magnificient horse and I will remember her forever. I know horses break down in the sport and it is very very sad. I called my mother after the race not to talk about Big Brown winning because he was the horse I was rooting for but to see how she was holding up after the break down. I got her on the phone and she was crying for Eight Belles.Eight Belles ran a great race and is now in a better place running through green pastures with the great race horses of past. She knows we love her and that we did not mean any harm. She knows that all we wanted was to admire and appreciate her as she ran beautifully down the track.  

06 May 2008 10:10 AM
Jared Squires

Eight Belles was the greatest three year old filly I ever saw race, which is somthing considering I have been a serious fan for more than 30 years.  I do most sincerely hope that her death will not be in vain, but rather, be used in a POSITIVE way to promote change in our industry.  While there are many strong opinions on dirt vs. synthetic surfaces, and further, while there are other factors (over medication, breeding for speed, etc.) which contribute to catostropic breakdowns, I believe it is time that the leader of the racetrack industry (Churchill Downs) to "act" or "lead" and make the surface switch.  The larger issue is not whether one prominent trainer/owner is for or against synthetic surfaces, but rather, whether our sport can be saved from the terrible negative perception of the public that is fostered when horses breakdown on national TV (Barbaro, Pine Island, Eight Belles).  I have great respect for Bob Baffert and Nick Zito as trainers, and I am open minded enought to listen to any trainer who does not blindly follow the party line, as it were, in favor of synthetics.  No doubt we are still in the middle of a learning curve when it comes to synthetics (less breakdowns but an increase soft tissue injuries).  But when compared to the public relatins disaster that has occurred in our sport, the dissenting opinions are simply unavailing.  Unequivocally, the easiest (and quickest) thing that can be done to lessen breakdowns is to make the switch to a synthetic surface.  Now is the time to act, as our industry is risking the elimination of a whole generation of fans if we sit around and "collect data."  It is my hope and desire that Eight Belles be remembered for ALL that she contributed to our industry; that is, her brillance as a race filly AND as a tipping point/catalyst for change to softer surfaces.      

06 May 2008 10:11 AM

Rest in Peace girl.

 You were a truly amazing animal!

 Love You......

06 May 2008 10:12 AM

My heart goes out to Eight Belles.  I am so sorry this happened to you.  You did such a wonderful job at the derby.  I am so sorry your life was cut so short by such a terrible tragedy.  I have thought of you countless times over the past few days, and will continue to do so.  

06 May 2008 10:12 AM

Three beautiful horses in much greener and happier pastures. Ruffian,Go for Wand, Eight Bell.I will never forget them.

06 May 2008 10:13 AM
H. Andress

I agree w/ Susan.  This sport is simply asking too much of immature skeletal structures.  Wait one more year and these breakdowns and heartaches will lesson.

Please hear us all of you horse racing business owners - we want to support the sport, but not at this price. Please reconsider.

06 May 2008 10:21 AM

I had the opportunity to see Eight Belles run at the Fairgrounds 01/21/08.  Mr. Jones himself walked her around the paddock and I could see how special she was to him.  I feel blessed to have seen her.  My heartfelt prayers go out to all her connections and Gabriel, keep your head up high.

Eight Belles, say hello to my dad.

06 May 2008 10:22 AM

Nearing the end of the Derby it was obvious that Big Brown was going to win. (TC finally??) However I was just as excited to see Eight Belles coming through the pack and taking over 2nd-we were all yelling "look, the filly is gonna be second"  As she crossed the line she was running gamely with her ears pricked, doing what she loved doing-being a racehorse. That is how I will always remember Eight Belles. Rest in Peace, sweet girl-you will never be forgotten.

06 May 2008 10:23 AM

Eight Belles,  We have lost a true champion many years before your time.  I will always remember your great derby, always be haunted by your tragic accident. I've heard Kent Desormeaux say many times that his mount "gave me his life today", not meaning that literally but figuratively.  You did that for your trainer, your owner, your jockey, your groom, and us, your fans.  

May you run in heaven's lush green pastures with Barbaro, Pine Island, George Washington, and the thousands of other horses who gave their life on the track.

06 May 2008 10:24 AM

Eight Belles was a true champion and had a bunch of followers that thought she could win the Kentucky Derby. Going into the Kentucky Derby and trying to become the fourth filly to win the Run for the Roses was a challenge in itself. She ran the race of her life racing against the boys and she beat 18 other horses. When I seen her laying on the track, my heart just dropped and it brought back memories of Barbaro from a year ago. I also had seen Chelokee and George Washington break down and it just horrifies me. Eight Belles will be missed by all and my prayers and thoughts go out to Larry Jones, Gabreal Saez, and the owners of her. RIP sweet girl. You were the best and nobody can take that from you.

06 May 2008 10:28 AM
Mint Hill Farm

It's very unfair of PETA to pass judgement in this situation. First of all they are extemists that are not rational and they rush to judge in a lot of case. In addition they are not horse people. Furthermore, there seemed no indication watching Eight Belles coming down the stretch many yards before the finish line, that something was wrong. Things happen to horses that can go unexplained, which makes it even harder for all that love them to accept. Eight Belles will always be remembered for her heart and beauty. I can only imagine how heart broken her connections are and my sympathies are with the entire Belles family.

06 May 2008 10:32 AM

No one is at fault for Eight Belles' death, in fact I commend her jockey and trainer for doing such a great job with her. Horses will break down no matter what.  Horses die after kicking their stalls or even being led to their paddock (like Saint Liam).  

What the industry needs are sound, durable stallions.  Why must we breed only for speed?  More than anything, this is what needs to change.

So instead of letting this tragedy hurt the sport, we need to remember the great filly for her heart and accomplishments, and use this to finally convince breeders that soundness is just as important as speed.

06 May 2008 10:33 AM
The Alpha Mare

I was there on Saturday.  I experienced her immortal spirit as she blazed toward the finish line while I screamed her name, wailing like the Banshee.

Eight Belles' death nearly killed me.  But not before my heart—my very soul—swelled with pride and ecstasy.  I thought I was going to explode as she roared toward home, nipping at Big Brown's heels.  

She ran her guts out.  She ran down 18 male horses.  An Amazon, a Warrior Woman, a Goddess--a living, breathing, obsessed-with-winning  Diva.   The mighty Azeri cheered  in her stall.  Winning Colors neighed her approval from her heavenly perch.   As Eight Belles breathed down Brown's neck, she spied the pantheon just up ahead.

And now--as horrible, as sad as it is--contrary to what WE think, she IS in her rightful place, in that pantheon.   Elysian Fields, the heavenly racetrack: running against Seattle Slew, Alydar, Go for Wand, Ruffian, Secretariat.   Eight Belles didn't die before she'd established herself as a Great Horse.   And, having done that--she ran, on four perfect legs--Home.

I love you, and will miss you, beautiful girl.  God rest your soul, Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 10:35 AM
Ida Lee

Beautiful Girl Eight Belles.  Rest in Peace.  Though you're not here with us anymore, I will always remember you racing your heart out and giving us the thrill of seeing you flying past all those boys. What a Rush!!! What a Champ !!! What a Loss!!!

06 May 2008 10:39 AM

Anabolic steroids - makes them have too much ability, over and above what there bodies are designed to handle!!! How about a National Racing Authority that has authority (not just in name), like Japan, and the implementation for these trainers of three strikes and you are out (as far as medications infractions)? These three things would be an improvement on safety immediately, and make the 10 second two year old under training a thing of the past. Theses animals could develop the way they are supposed to, not hyped up on synthetics that screw up their endocrine system and hearts for the rest of their lives.

Racing is NOT doing enough to create safer conditions for the horses, and subsequently, for the small men who ride them. The amount of callousness and disregard for life for the sake of pure ego, is truly horrific.

06 May 2008 10:39 AM
Loretta T.

I have been a horse racing fan since Secretariat won the triple crown. Then perfection came in the name of "Ruffian". As fate would have it, she was gone in what seemed like an instant. Horses love to run, in the wild or on a track. Eight Belles was all heart, determination and a strong will. We will never get to see how truly great she was. Eight Belles has made us all cry, for her pain, her breakdown, and for what could have been. She runs free now, out of pain, in Heaven's pasture. What a truly remarkable stable there is in Heaven! Rest in peace Eight Belles. The "Bell" tolled too soon for you, we will always remember your race of a lifetime.....the time your life was given to race. Love you forever!

06 May 2008 10:39 AM

I was overjoyed that Big Brown won,but when i saw Eight Belles lying motionless on the track after,i was sick with grief. I knew the minute the camera landed on her how badly she was injured and what her fate was to be. I too think that by raising the age of horses eligible to race,we could prevent this.We could also prevent injuries like Barbaro's,Eight Belles and Chelokee's if Churchill Downs switched their surface to a synthetic PolyTrack surface from dirt...My heart goes out to Eight Belles,and i have to admit..witnessing something like that turned me off from racing...RIP Eight Belles..we love you

06 May 2008 10:46 AM

As a person who has worked for Larry and Cindy Jones, I know that

Eight Belles was well taken care of. They would never send any horse to race if there was any chance of injury to the horse or rider.  They truly are great horsemen, and they do not deserve any criticism they are getting.

06 May 2008 10:50 AM

I have been watching horse racing for most of my life. I will never get used to seeing a beautiful animal have to be destroyed. As I sat there watching as she was being put down, I thought to myself why do I do this.  At that point I said no more. But I have this great love of the horse.  I am so sorry for all the people who loved Eight Belles.  She was truly a great champion.

06 May 2008 10:53 AM
Pamela L

I'll never forget the TV spot showing Larry Jones exercising Eight Belles. She seemed such an intelligent, happy filly and was obviously much cherished. To see her lying on the track was devastating.

I began crying before the Derby, a feeling of premonition coming over me. I said prayers for their safety, like so many. I can only surmise that the death of Eight Belles will have a higher purpose. Public outcry at the sight of beaten horses being whipped and great equines asked for so much too soon WILL win out. Racing should wake up. No animal lover or, as they say "pet parent", will watch a sport that kills horses. Make some changes, in the name of Eight Belles and Barbara and so many others before it is too late. I love racing and don't want to see it banned as cruelty.

06 May 2008 10:54 AM
Charlene Freeman

I was at the Derby with my daughter.  We both had Eight Belles in our wagers and the joy of collecting was totally extinguished by the loss of this beautiful filly.  She gave her all for her owners and trainer and for all of us watching her.  Our hearts were saddened and it was the only flaw in an otherwise perfect weekend trip.  Hopefully the Derby will someday only be open to colts and also lessen their entry allowance to 14 horses.  Even though Eight Belles showed that she was as good as any colt - it wasn't worth losing her. Eight Belles, rest in peace, know that you are loved and will always remain in the hearts of all race fans.

06 May 2008 10:54 AM
Thomas R.

There she was in all her splendor, the big gray magnificent filly, in the red and white silks, number 5, strutting her stuff in the paddock.  For many it was love at first sight, for me a continued love affair. She was so very regal and had a certain grace about her. Could she fulfill her destiny? Eight Belles was her name and she was about to embark on her greatest challenge.  What an incredible and exciting sport!

Yet, sadly as much as I love Horse Racing and all the excitement it brings, I find it increasingly difficult to watch these races from start to finish.  Accidents and breakdowns are part of this game, but life and death issues put so much more on the line! In Kentucky Derby 134, Saturday, we saw the filly, Eight Belles give her life in a gut wrenching ,runner up performance.  Just like memories of Barbaro and the past 2 Breeder’s Cups with George Washington and Pine Island, Saturday was a sad day.

I do acknowledge the advancement of Equine Surgical procedures and the many wonderful people committed to saving these incredible animals.  The Barbaro saga really brought this to the public forefront.  Much that is positive is taking shape in this sport.

Still, each time a horse is euthanized, my heart breaks that much more! These noble, beautiful, graceful and powerful creatures have always shown me that on earth, heaven does exist.  Yes, I am an avid Horse Racing enthusiast but what I really love is the horse. Of all sports, the heroes I embrace are horses. They give everything, so pure and innocent, with no hidden agenda or thought of tomorrow.  I followed Eight Belles quite closely this year, reading everything I could find on this proud gray filly. She was my favorite, the horse I wanted to win the Derby. I was rooting for her every step of the way and was ecstatic with her second place finish to Big Brown. Shortly after her crossing the finish line, and breaking down, I thought of her lying on the track, frightened, confused. Fortunately, Euthanasia was quick! Question after question, heartbreak, tears and sadness engulfed me.  What  a price to pay for giving so much of herself?

What now? I will move on and in time chose a new favorite. My hope is that breakdowns and injuries become less prevalent and that the strides the industry is making start hitting pay dirt. I will keep alert to ways the public can help, and continue to donate and support horse charities. I do however, expect to be saddened again. I will watch these races with the realization that death is just a footprint away. It is the harsh reality of this sport and the price you pay for being a fan of this game. The horse can only hope for a healthy, successful race career so that retirement or breeding are options.  Just as Eight Belles gave so much, I too will give my heart to other horses .

Finally, I just wanted to tell you Eight Belles, you looked absolutely stunning in the Derby. Thanks for being my hero! Rest in peace.

06 May 2008 10:54 AM
Susan C.

Like many racing fans and owners I watched Big Brown power to the finish line, and thought we have a horse destined be a Triple Crown winner. I watched

Eight Belles cross second and thought how much heart she had, what a beautiful,

game filly. This feeling of exhilaration was short lived, as catastrophe

unfolded. The day, like so many classic races before will forever be shrouded in sadness.

We focus on synthetic surfaces, on steroid use, everything but the truth.  

Perhaps we have bred our blood lines too perfectly, perhaps its time for the

Jockey club to meet with breeders and strengthen the legs of our horses, by

introducing a hardier breed into the thoroughbred lines. I for one would gladly

sacrifice a second or two of speed for less injuries, less sadness.

Secondly, perhaps we need to consider starting our horses one year later.  

Giving their skeletal system one more year to strengthen could only help.

These catastrophic breakdowns, drive new fans away from the sport we love. It even illicites doubts as to my own love of the sport. My deepest heartfelt regrets are extended to the connections of Eight Belles, she gave her live for two minutes of our entertainment; but has really left us a lifetime of mourning for so many fallen athletes. We owe it to our horses to find a remedy, whatever that might be.

06 May 2008 10:56 AM
Lori U.

I have been following horseracing since 1971 and have seen every triple crown and championship race on television since then. After viewing Saturday's Kentucky Derby I couldn't help but to feel sickened at the sight of Eight Belles lying on the track afterward.  It seems that every couple of broadcasted races a horse gets killed. George Washington in the Breeder's Cup as well as the many before him and now Eight Belles in the derby. I don't plan on watching the Preakness or Belmont because I doubt my stomach will be up to it.

I'm also a horse owner and ride hunters & jumpers, so I'm familiar with leg injuries. This filly was clearly injured coming out of the final turn,  you can see her bobble and shorten stride then the jockey hits her with the whip after that, it's so obvious. I was surprised she made it to the finish line. Take a look at Eight Belles stride coming through the stretch, she appears to be hopping on her front legs. In other words, both of her front legs look as though they are hitting the ground together. A horse does not run in full stride with both front legs hitting the ground at the same time.  You can tell she is either completely exhausted, injured or both. That's the last horse race I'll ever watch.

06 May 2008 10:58 AM
Pam F.

The beginning of a new racing season....and the gods exacted their pound of flesh early on.

I know that I will hear many times over in the next few days that this is a barbaric sport...that we force these animals to run, and that they will never watch it again. My answers remain the same as they have for years.  We watch it because we are awestruck by the beauty and the pageantry..and the knowlege that these magnificent creatures have this deeply embedded in their souls. They are born to run...and nothing can take that out of them.  It's what drives them, from the moment that they are born..their "Raison D'Etre"...reason for being. A thoroughbred's legs may break...but their hearts cannot. We saw that clearly illustrated yesterday.  And, WILL watch it again. If the love of the Sport of Kings is in your heart, you will be compelled to. If it isn't, then pick up your toys and go on home.

 Thank you Ed McNamara, our local news reporter for your great coverage.  Thanks to Big Brown for running a great race...and thanks most of all to the filly who slammed it home to all of us. She did her owners, trainer, jockey, all the rest of us,as well as herself proud. She showed us the reason to keep coming back to the track.

  Goodbye, Eight Belles... magnificent job....well done!!

06 May 2008 10:59 AM
Susan W.

As a long-time fan of thoroughbred horse racing , I was thrilled to see that racing at Churchill Downs for the day of the Derby was going to be a successful day, with all jockeys and horses having a safe trip, but then absolute and unexplainable tragedy occurred.

I could not believe what I was seeing on the television screen.  As a write this letter, tears are in my eyes.  I don’t know Mr. Larry Jones, I never met Eight Belles, or know her connections, but my heart weeps for all of them, and especially for Eight Belles.  

Once again, the eyes are on the sport of thoroughbred racing to change their ways, to make things better.  Everyone keeps mentioning the synthetic surfaces as the save all for this sport.  Maybe the change to a synthetic surface will provide some benefit and provide relief from such horrific and senseless tragedies like this from occurring, but I am not optimistic that will be the case.

In my heart, I don’t believe polytrack, cushion track, or any of the synthetic surfaces are the answer.  Significant changes need to occur in the sport of thoroughbred racing and now:

1. The overall philosophy of the sport needs to change.  The sport has become too much like a business, with the main piece, a majestic living animal, the horse, paying the price much too often

2. The medication rules, regulations, and penalties need to be developed, standardized, communicated, and strictly enforced, with tough penalties, financial and other.

3. The breeding program needs to change: less horses being bred and horses bred for stamina, not just speed.  Owners and breeders need to assume responsibility of the horses when the racing days are over.

4. The training and racing regiment and asking these horses to go so fast so young, needs to change.  The racing programs need to offer more races that are longer.

5. The claiming game needs to change so that horses that should not be racing at all are not racing.

I am sure tragedies will still continue, but at the moment there are just too many catastrophic injuries occurring too often.  It is becoming more and more difficult to be a supporter of this sport.  

06 May 2008 11:00 AM
Lauren L.

PETA needs to stay out of situations they know nothing about.  Attempts by them to suspend Eight Belles jockey, Gabriel Saez, and revoke the $400,000 second-prize money that this gallant filly earned in the Kentucky Derby, because she was "doubtlessly injured before the finish of the race" are quite possibly the most ridiculuos statements I have ever heard in my life.  I'm glad that the racing people that actually would make these decisions have more sense.  However, I'm deeply concerned that casual fans are going to be turned against the Fox Hill Farm team by these ignorant words.  Classier horsemen than those that make up the FHF team cannot be found anywhere.  To make this already very difficult time for them harder by issuing such uneducated accusations is sick and wrong.  Anyone with sense at all can see that Eight Belles hit the wire full of run, with a completely normal stride.  You can see the instance she breaks stride, a full quarter mile after the wire, a SINGLE stride before she falls.  She galloped out with her ears pricked.  Horses for Dummies describes a horse with pricked ears as "happy and/or interested."  Horses with broken ankles are not happy or interested, nor do they make it a full quarter mile before falling.  She was doubtlessly not injured untilt the second before she fell, and PETA are doubtlessly idiots.

06 May 2008 11:02 AM
Susan M.

The 2008 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs delivered a weather-perfect day to the second largest crowd ever to fill the stands for the “Run for the Roses” as we again hope that, after 30 years of waiting, the racing gods will smile on one truly gifted colt or filly and give us our 12th winner of the Triple Crown.

The good news? Big Brown actually lived up to his favored status with an explosive run, carrying him to an impressive victory.

We thought the racing gods HAD actually smiled, and that that same smile extended to a beautiful, elegant filly outrunning 18 other colts to come in second.

Then it happened. The Bad.

A stumble perhaps? A misstep maybe. Most likely, exhausted legs that were just too weary to carry her one more stride. She was down, never to rise again. She, quite literally, “...didn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Racing fans will remember another catastrophically-injured filly named Pine Island and her “Go For Wand” tumble when the Breeders’ Cup was last at Churchill Downs. Another filly was injured in that same race. Both of them stood there in agony for far too long, especially the second filly, as they, their trainers and the vets waited for the Kimzey Horse Ambulances to navigate through the crowds.

To be injured as was Eight Belles is just plain ugly...just plain bad.  But Churchill did a better job this time. They learned from their mistake. Not one, but TWO ambulances rolled up and surrounded her immediately, even as it was being determined that she could not be saved. The means and the manpower were there in quick time this time, keeping the filly from a lengthy period of suffering.

The first Saturday in this May could not have been more beautiful. The race could not have been more beautifully run. Big Brown showed himself the true favorite with a triumphant run. But so did a filly named Eight Belles. She was a champion before the race, and she was a champion after the race.

But she died in the effort. The only consolation, the only “better,” was that this time, Churchill Downs did not fail her.

Run with the Angels, Eight Belles. And Rest in Peace.

06 May 2008 11:03 AM
Sharon S.

As tragic as the death of Eight Belles was, maybe her death and the public outcry across the country will finally be a wake up call to the thoroughbred breeding industry.  Even the likes of the Jim Rome Show on ESPN tonight were saying what I have for years:  They only breed for speed and have created a weaker breed.  And the argument about there being more tracks and more races to fill today doesn't apply.  The industry can "put their finger in the dike" with these synthetic tracks, but they're ignoring the real problem.

In the good old days of racing, horses ran more, and they raced longer.  Seabiscuit, crooked legs and all, raced thirty-five times as a two-year old and raced until he was seven.  Phar Lap was run several times A WEEK.  Today on Good Morning, America, Jeanine Edwards said a horse cannot run on a fractured leg.  In the 1958 Belmont Stakes, Tim Tam fractured a sesamoid at the quarter pole, finished in second place well ahead of the field, and went on to a career at stud.  All this is not just my opinion.  It's there in the black and white of Past Performance charts.

We are hearing about breakdowns more than ever - that's the world of media invasion we live in.  They flock to sensational stories like vultures over a dying animal.  Horse racing is dying right now, and the vultures are circling.  I hope to God the industry leaders will wake up and do the right thing.

06 May 2008 11:04 AM

She was beautiful, and gifted.  She had every right to run the derby, and was my personal choice for second. She was another super filly.  What happened is sad, and opens eyes, but she had every right to run. No one is at fault, but perhaps we can learn from this disaster.  My best to her owner and trainer.  

06 May 2008 11:05 AM

I've been into racing since I was 3 years old and I made my first trip to the track with my family.  That's a longer time ago than I care to admit.  The Kentucky Derby, the Breeder's Cup -- these were leading items on my "things to do in my lifetime list."  Not anymore.  For a sport trying to revive its failing fortunes, having your marquee events turn into spectacles of animal death and dismemberment is probably not the way to go.  And all of the memory walls and romanticizing of the death of a gallant creature like Eight Belles does nothing.  

06 May 2008 11:05 AM

 Just want to let Rick, Larry, & all of the other people who loved & cared for Eight Belles, how truly sorry I am for their tragic loss. I was really pulling for her to win the Derby. She ran a awesome race & she didn't look to me like she was straining at all. She seemed to be running with ease, like she was enjoying the run. I have followed Rick's horses for awhile & I really believe if there had been any chance for her to pull through he would have done whatever he could for her. I have always been impressed with the care and love he has shown all his horses. Thanks for showing the world that there are owners out there who really love & care about these horses.

 I quess, like everyone else, I ask myself where or what is the problem. Personally I believe its in the genetics. Why is it that the great ones that were run in the 20's,30's,40's & 50's were able to last so long at the track & they were run hard & often. I always thought it was be so thrilling to own & race thoroughbreds, but I think the emotional toll would be to much!

06 May 2008 11:06 AM

Once we get by the hurt, let's take a good hard look at the breeding practices in the U.S.  Speed does come at a price and is this price too high?  With documentation of bone size becoming smaller and weaker, shouldn't we take a look at expanding the gene pool and once again breed horses for soundness and not just speed.

Eight Belles was a magnigicent animal and should be remembered as that, but her legacy could be the watermark to a brighter future for the breed.

06 May 2008 11:09 AM
Rachel H

I never knew Eight Bells. But I watched a lot of her races on TV. What a beautiful filly she was. I was shocked when she went down. I cried when they gave the bad news. But I will remember what a wonderful and beautiful filly she was.

Rest in peace beautiful girl.

06 May 2008 11:14 AM

I was happy that Big Brown won the Derby. I was proud of Eight Belles's effort. When the camara switched over to her lying on the track motionless I knew her fate was seeled. May she rest in peace and run forever with the greats. We will never forget you grey beauty.

06 May 2008 11:16 AM
Evan N.

I've followed this beautiful filly since she broke her maiden at deleware and ever since then i've had the highest expectations of her. She delivered every time she hit the track and by the way she moved you could tell she loved nothing more than running that oval whether in the morning or afternoons.My heart goes out to all those who got to spend time around her and got to know her personality,likes and dislikes. To larry jones' family, you guys took care of her better than anyone could have imagined and did right by her every step of the way.I'm positive the porters miss this great one and I can only hope her memory lives on forever. To gabby Saez, Keep your head up, keep riding hard, and always remember that everyone points a finger looking for someone to blame. You are not in any way reponsible, and i wish people out there could understand the pain and agony you must be going through as well. To the filly I never had the pleasure of meeting but stole my heart from day one. Eight Belles you were a great friend, companion, daughter and sister. You will forever be remembered by this fan as a great horse, one whom god had a different plan for. We miss you Eight Belles.


06 May 2008 11:38 AM

My heart aches and the tears flow.  I'm so sorry for your loss.  She was a special filly.

06 May 2008 11:39 AM

What great things can be said about Eight Belles that hasn't been said already? You gave us your all, your life, and I'll never forget seeing you fly down the stretch, 18 boys behind n your wake. Run in peace. My heart goes out to Gabe Saez, Larry Jones, and everyone who was connected with Eight Belles. It was no ones fault, and they shouldn't be treated as such. I'm truly sorry.

06 May 2008 11:55 AM

For me, EIGHT BELLES was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby, bar none.  The running of the race saw her boxed in and stopped more than once when she finally got a clear shot she took of after Big Brown like a rocket, he had the first jump.  With a clear run they would have been head and head.  We know she was tough, how would he have handled being looked in the eye?  My deepest sympathy to all concerned with this GREAT CHAMPION, you made the right decision to give her the chance she was bred for and pay no mind to the idiotic criticism from people who have no understanding of racing and the rapport, love and mutual respect shared between horse, trainer and most owners.  This performance following her other prior victories makes her in my book HORSE OF THE YEAR 2008.  

06 May 2008 11:56 AM
Team Ivytree

The Kentucky sky will forever shine a little brighter because her star has joined the Ages....and while we are poorer from this great loss, we are richer for having known her in the first place. Run freely on in the Light, gallant darling girl. We will never forget your noble heart.

"I am fire and air, my other elements I give to baser life."

Antony & Cleopatra.  

06 May 2008 12:01 PM
Adam A.



06 May 2008 12:01 PM
Walter Gene Haggin

3 Year old fillies are not physically mature enough to run with colts in the 20 horse free for all the derby has become.

06 May 2008 12:01 PM
Robert O

First of all, My heart goes out to the Jockey, Trainer and Owners of eight belles.

Most of all ( PETA) are the Morons of the world, they know absolutely nothing about the sports and are trouble makers. They need to go away and get a life!!.  

I saw the race on T.V. I said this cannot be happening again. My wife and I go to the Preakness every year. I was there for the Barbaro race at the Preakness it happened right in front of us. Its not a good thing to see. I cant imagine what the owners of Eight Belles are going through.

But, I have to agree with most comments above and the horses of old ran there butts off for many years before stud duty. Because they where breed the proper way.

The industry needs to take a step back in time and rebuild for the future and forget about speed.

The problem I see is everyone is trying to recreate (Ruffian). what they dont understand is Ruffian was a natural who kicked the crap out of every horse in her way. Ruffian was not a robot built on drugs & medication.

She was a true champion, Lets bring the true champions back to the race tracks.

06 May 2008 12:05 PM

you did such an amazing job, we're all so proud of you.  RIP beautiful.

tell Barbaro I miss him.

06 May 2008 12:05 PM

Very sad about the filly. I do agree these horses shouldn't compete until they are at least 3 years old. I also think the Reiners, Western Pleasure riders, etc. shouldn't be competing horses at 2 either. BTW, 2 eventing horses were euthanized at the Rolex 3-day event this last weekend. As for PETA, they frighten me with their ignorance of horse behavior. Those whips don't even have lashes and are used for steering since the jockeys don't have their legs on the horse's sides. Horses move away from pressure, and reins are fairly inadequate for accurately steering a running horse in traffic. If the whips were upsetting those horses, they'd easily buck their tiny little riders off instead of running. PETA could find better causes... like the horses sent to slaughter.

06 May 2008 12:07 PM

My condolences to Larry Jones and his crew. Eight Belles was a wonderful filly and I know they loved her deeply. I viewed the movie First Saturday In May which featured him and his family and there is no doubt in my mind that Larry feels that these horses are part of his extended family.The fact that he would get up on her in the morning to gallop her and bond with her, surely made it even harder to deal with.

Larry if there is a heaven; she will be waiting for you there.

06 May 2008 12:08 PM

My heart goes out to all those in connection with Eight Belles.  Her death is one of grace and beauty and should be remembered as such.  I believe that these horses genuinely love racing and so it should be seen as her dying with love.  I am an animal lover as well as feel a deep connection to these thoroughbreds. They put their hearts and souls into that track and should be honored as such. There is no one to blame for this tragedy and should be something that unites us with our love of these magnificant beasts and how much joy and happiness they provide for us. I take solice in knowing that Eight Belles has joined the greats as ruffian, pine island, barbaro and all of the hundreds of horses that have lost their lives on the track, they are now free and we must honor the beauty in that.

06 May 2008 12:10 PM

I was asked to comment on the breakdown of Eight Belles at work on Sat.My co-workers can't spell racehorse,but they asked me because I'm an old racetracker(groom,trainer,owner).My comments were as follows "You hope when you breed and train racehorses that you can bring out all the talent and heart that they have.She layed her body down and gave it everything she had" I wish I had owned or trained a horse with one tenth of the heart she showed that day.Please remember her in that light And to her connections,you were so lucky to have known her.

06 May 2008 12:18 PM

Eight Belles , what can be said , you made a good account of yourself , bravo to you. You are now resting with all the other great horse's from racing past.

You must of been some kind of filly

for your owners to start running you in September of your second year and run you every month thereafter. Maybe it was all that wear and tear that finally caught up with you in the Derby, your tenth and final race. May you now Rest In Peace , unfortunately , it took someone superior to realize , enough is enough, time to come home, you've given enough of yourself on planet earth. There are greener pastures where you are now. RIP

06 May 2008 12:22 PM

it hurts to see things like that happen. Eight Belles had A LOT of heart. It isn't the jockey, trainer, owner, or connections fault. people are blaming the jockey and the race. she gave no indication of being hurt.

It was not the race, that's for sure. Everyone can agree with me that she was catching Big Brown effortlessly, ears pricked and all.

Humane Society and all those people should go and hound the lower ranks who drug their horses to run. These big time people don't need drugs to make a horse good. they can BUY a good horse that can win.

My Heart goes to Gabe and Jones and all of Eight Belles' connections.

06 May 2008 12:27 PM

Beautiful Belles, you had an amazing spirit. These are the times that make it tough to be a race fan. You crossed the wire ahead of the best three year old colts in the country with your ears up, begging to go proved that you belonged in the toughest race there is, and that you loved every second of it. I don't know why this had to happen to you, but I know that somewhere, somehow you're still running with your ears up.

Rest in peace, darling.

06 May 2008 12:31 PM

Eight Belles, your spirit is free, you were a very strong girl..  I'm so sad to know your life was cut so short..  you were worth so much more than that.  I hope the memory of you will bring changes to the horse racing industry and more safety to future racehorses.

06 May 2008 12:33 PM
Jo Ann

Eight Belles (like Ruffian, Go For Wand, Barbaro, etc.) are the truly great horses.  They have so much will to win that they run harder and faster than the usual 'joes'.  Unfortunately for racing, the great ones are the ones that the non-racing world get a chance to see, and then scream foul.  In one article, it was stated that Eight Belles was put down to save the viewers and the crowd from their agony.  Belle' pain and chance of survival were all that were considered, and humanely, she was put down.  I have lived and loved Thoroughbred racing my whole life, and will continue as long as there is a breath in my body.  The connections with Belle did what was right for her.  A video click prior to the Derby showed Mr. Jones on Belle breazing, and he had trouble getting her to pull up.  Hugs to all connections.  And to those of you who continue to condemn racing... get educated.

06 May 2008 12:36 PM

Eight Belles went out the way she whould of wanted to. Yes to early but she gave her life to show the world just what kind of heart she had. There are tragities in every sport, that's what brings people closer to the game and let's people truly understand how remarkable she was. All I can say to Eight Belles, is thank you for making me fall in love with you and the greatest sport in the world. I can't wait to see you again some day.

06 May 2008 12:50 PM
Pam S.

I have shed tears while reading all the comments extolling Eight Belles' heart and talent, and the calls for changes in breeding and racing, and I want to add my voice to both.  

We all know that these equine athletes' fragile legs too often don't support their muscularity and their competitive spirits.  We know that the sight of magnificent animals suffering gruesome injuries at showcase events will never translate to the increased fan base needed to sustain the sport.

With changes, I think racing will survive, as it has survived the high-profile tragedies of Ruffian, Go for Wand and Barbaro.  These shining stars are gone, and the fleet, smoky heroine Eight Belles has joined them.  I and all fans of the Thoroughbred call on the breeding-racing complex to work together to promote not only record auction prices, the growth of betting handle and racing's "biggest days," but most importantly equine health and welfare.  

The Run for the Roses, with its tradition and glamour, represents the dreams of all who are connected to these charismatic animals.  At this year's renewal, a dream and a life ended up in the dirt. The image is disturbing and I want to forget it, but I can't.  RIP, Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 12:51 PM
Rechelle D

Eight Belles was a great filly who will be missed!  She gave one great final race for us to remember her by!  Quit with all the whining about things that aren't directly related to REMEMBERING this great filly!  This isn't the time nor the place for it!

To Eight Belles' connections, my thoughts & prayers are with you during this difficult time!

06 May 2008 12:58 PM
Catherine Owen

I'm going to say it one more time, this filly was loved and well taken care of.  Larry Jones is a good trainer and Gabriel Saez is not at fault.  None of these people deserve any blame whatsoever.  

06 May 2008 12:58 PM

Belles you were a beautiful, beautiful girl in mind, spirit and body.  May your death not be in vain.  Let it be the catalyst that finally forces horse racing to take a long, hard look at what has become and make the changes it needs to bring it back to glory.

All the slots in the world will not save thoroughbred racing.  Only the love of horses and racing and right now it's very hard to love knowing your heart may very well be broken over and over.  

RIP sweet girl...

06 May 2008 12:59 PM

Though I'm no expert in the world of racing, I do know that thoroughbreds are one of the lightest boned breeds out there.  Take a look at other breeds that compete - jumpers, hunters, cross-country, rodeo horse's - all of them have heavier boned legs.  It's like asking a ballerina to run a marathon over a course track.  Her legs are trained to dance not climb mountains.

Because these horses are started out under the age of two to train to race and then are considered to old to race after 4, the animals are raced as babies....(18-mos -3 yrs)

Unfortunately every individual who participates in this sport in anyway, shape or form condones this.  

After much reading I've come to realize only the best horses in racing are the ones older than 5...

Unfortunately we only acknowledge the juveniles as being the greatest.

Don't get me wrong there will always be those that stand out, but they are the exceptions.

Eight Belles' breakdown was a freak accident and I'm happy to note that before she's cremated a thorough exam is being done.

The best way to combat this is to change the thought process on breeding....Do we want fast horses or living horses?

We All Play A Part!

Thanks All

06 May 2008 1:00 PM

Ok, this is a memory wall..not a place to USE this poor sweet filly's tragedy to bash on horse racing.  Yes, there are many problems that need addressing but please, have some respect.

My heart goes out to all of her connections...

Rest in Peach beautiful free at the Rainbow Bridge! <3 Will never forget you!

06 May 2008 1:09 PM
April B

I too was rooting for Eight Belles against the boys and was screaming in joy that she was second to Big Brown in the Derby.  It broke my heart to see her lying in track helpless.  This was supposed to be the best Derby in last 20 years and now it will be overshadowed by the tragic unforunate death of a great filly.  After reviewing the comments above, I do believe that they should not allow horses to race until they are at least 4 years of age when their bones are more fully devolped.  There should be more research into equine medical treatment to help critically injured horses.  If a dog breaks both of its legs, we do not immediately put it to sleep.  I will still be a fan of horseracing because freak accidents do happen and for all the horses that are active in racing, there is just a very small percentage that this happens to.  

Eight Belles will be remembered as one of the greatest fillies of all horseracing!

06 May 2008 1:10 PM

Has anyone looked at the loss of colts in this attitude? is it just fillies?  Should we wait a little longer for maturity? Is it the genetics have we looked at all of the aspects such a terrible loss for everyone concerned my sincerest sympathies to the whole industry upon the loss of thiss heroic animal.

06 May 2008 1:15 PM
Anna Seals

I also witnessed this tragedy at the kentuck derby.  I question myself everyday as to why i keep wathcing.   but seeing smarty jones up close at three chimney's farm keeps me hooked.  My heart goes out to Eight Belles and her conections.  I would be overcome with grief if this had happened to one of my horses.  Rest in Peace great Filly!!!!  You will always be remembered by me for your greastness, not your trageic ending.... anna seals

06 May 2008 1:22 PM

oops, that would be Rest in Peace sweetheart!

06 May 2008 1:24 PM
Marc R

Gate to wire, Eight Belles ran the race of her life. Sadly, her life ended with the cheers for that peformance still filling her ears. Though death came far too early for the brilliant filly, a legacy  was born from her tragedy -- a champion who laid down her life stretching her natural talents to their ultimate limits. Though one finished in front of her, she earned a measure of respect perhaps greater than the one who banked the winner's share.  To her trainer, owner and rider who had insight into her abilities, which most fans saw only for a span of 2:01 4/5, thank you for that glimpse of greatness we would not have otherwise experienced. Your courage and sporting character are a treasure to the game.            

06 May 2008 1:31 PM

very sorry to all those connected with her, but she will live on forever in Derby folklore as the brave filly who finshed to the undefeated Triple Crown winner BIG BROWN, may she rest in peace.........

06 May 2008 1:54 PM
Susan Nunes

It was a terrible tragedy, and I know all of her connections feel devastated by the loss.  Unfortunately, we have a sector of the public, the animal rights mob, who want to exploit this in order to ban horse racing and all other animal sports to further their insane agenda of no domestication of animals because of "ethical" reasons.  They are despicable and need to be outed.  Will the racing industry challenge these liars head-on?

06 May 2008 2:00 PM

Belle was my first pick, BB my second. Though she technically finished second on paper, Belle was a winner. Her death has sickened me, brought me to tears. I'm still crying. She was a filly for the ages.

RIP Belle. I love you, and I miss you.

06 May 2008 2:15 PM

As horse owners we do not ride yearlings but many race horses are started before their 2nd birthday.  That does not give ample time for the bones to mature and develop properly.

My heart goes out to her owners and the people that loved her. Maybe she can force change in an industry.

In loving memory let us make this change!!!

06 May 2008 2:20 PM
Fred B

You are what this sport is about and you old girl, all heart & class.

We will tell our grandchildren about the unbelivable effort saturday! And you EIGHT BELLES will live forever a champion....

06 May 2008 2:27 PM
Jesus Ignacio

Big Brown a monster horse,Eight Belles a masterful filly,i'm proud of her!!!.From Kentucky,America,to Andalusia,Spain,the usque ad coelos et usque ad inferos magic of the Derby has touched my heart.Long life to the sport of the kings!!!

06 May 2008 2:29 PM

Such a tragedy. Eight Belles was destined for greatness, a Breeders Cup entry to be sure.  Unfortunately she will now be remembered by most as the filly that broke down at the Kentucky Derby. But to those who follow racing, she was much more than that, and her memory will be cemented by the racing history she achieved in her short career.  The industry needs to take a hard look at itself and do what is necessary to stop these catastrophic events. Stop the excuses -- the world is watching.

06 May 2008 2:32 PM
Judy B

It is greater to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Thank you Eight Belles, Barbaro, Pine Island, Go for Wand, Ruffian, etc, and my own personal lost love that none of you have ever heard of, Secret Defense, for that chance to love.

06 May 2008 2:32 PM

Eight Belles will be remembered, a winner and champion, she did "run the race of her life" quite eloquently I might say.....she now roams with Barbaro and others before her......They will not be forgotten....but in our hearts.

06 May 2008 2:42 PM

I have been devistated since the moment I saw her laying on the track Saturday on TV. This filly was destined for greatness and I makes my heart ache. I can only hope that she is in heaven running with Barbaro, Ruffian, Three Degrees and all the other beauties. God bless her and her connections. Rest well, beautiful girl.

06 May 2008 2:43 PM

To the connections of Eight Belles I offer a prayer of peace and solace.  You were given a wonderful gift in Eight Belles and she returned that gift one hundred fold.  I thank you for sharing her with us.  

06 May 2008 2:43 PM


06 May 2008 2:44 PM

Eight Belles - determination, talent, heart, blessed with everything that makes a horse a champion.  

06 May 2008 2:44 PM
Afleet Treet in Auburn, Washington

Beautiful Belle....

We will miss your beauty and free spirit so much but know that your are up there running and challenging the very best right now. Give all those who passed before you our love and never forget what a true champion you are...

Taken from the movie Dreamer, the following quote seems only fitting for such a beautfiul filly....I hope I can one day meet you at the Bridge and do just that!

You are a great champion. When you ran the ground shook. The sky opened & mere mortals parted. Parted the way to victory. Where you will meet me in the winner's circle, & I will lay a blanket of flowers on your back.

Fly like the wind beautiful may be gone but you'll NEVER be forgotten.

06 May 2008 2:53 PM

What a bittersweet Derby it was.  Everyone in Louisville was pulling for Big Brown, the UPS hub being here.  Seeing him thunder across that finish line was spectacular, only to be followed by the heart sickening spectacle of watching Eight Belles fall to the ground after such a harrowing run right behind Big Brown.  Like so many before ... she gave it her all.

I love horse racing, but I love horses more, and as the trainer so aptly put it, this happened for a reason, and perhaps that reason is change!

Here's to a lovely horse with the heart of a champion.

06 May 2008 2:55 PM

I don't know much about horse racing, just love to watch these beautiful animals. I always choose my horse, not by standings, but just by the one I like best out of all of them. I chose Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, I can't say why it was just a feeling when I saw her. She was a beautiful animal and she definately had a lot of heart. I am so sorry for your loss.

06 May 2008 2:59 PM

First Barbaro who stole our hearts with his courage, then George Washington--who had NO business in that race or on that surface, now Eight Belles.

There are a hundred reasons why she broke down. Surface, inbreeding, weary legs, who knows.

None of it matters. Peta has no business pointing fingers, it won't bring her back.

To the Jones camp, I am heartsick for your loss.  I know what it's like to see that empty stall in your barn.  

Hang in there and remember what joy that girl brought you!

06 May 2008 3:00 PM

Our hearts ache over the Eight Belles tragedy.  She ran her heart out and fought until the finish.  She's a true champion and we'll never forget her valiant effort.

God Bless You, Eight Belles & Thank You!!

06 May 2008 3:06 PM

I was rooting for Eight Belles and she was one of my picks. She displayed the highest virtues possessed by a Thoroughbred: courage, perserverance, and an intense will to compete. She was for me an equine heroine. I shall miss her dearly, and will always love her.

Rest in peace, lovely lady. You have taken your place with the racing immortals.

06 May 2008 3:11 PM

The loss of Eight Belles on Saturday was about as tragic as it gets...I couldn't help but be reminded of another filly, who years before had impressed me so with her athletic ability that I remember her still to this day--Ruffian.

Condolences to her owners and to all in her barn.

While there may not be an obvious reason for why this happened, perhaps it can help to fuel the argument for starting colts (and fillies) later to allow them to develop further and to race with less possibility of injury...If there was ever a time for change in the Thoroughbred racing world, please let this be it!

06 May 2008 3:12 PM

We watch it because we are awestruck by the beauty and the pageantry..and the knowledge that these magnificent creatures have this deeply embedded in their souls. They are born to run...and nothing can take that out of them.  It's what drives them, from the moment that they are born..their "Raison D'Etre"...reason for being."

I disagree, Pam F.  Yes, it feels good to them to run because they're given the most nutritional food and exercised to the point where they're jumping out of their skin and have to let it out somehow, but they wouldn't feel that way if they weren't deliberately put in that position. When they're put out to pasture for the 20-25 years of their life that they're not running, they adjust just fine.

Yes, some will battle it out on the track and really want to win, but they wouldn't know anything about racing and wouldn't miss it if they weren't introduced to it by people who's make goal is to make a ton of money off of them.  

I've loved horses and racing since I was little, and even fulfilled a dream and worked on a track for awhile.  

But I'm starting to dread watching races anymore.  It should be fun, not worrisome.

When you can't even enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby anymore, something needs to change.

06 May 2008 3:29 PM

This was my 51st Derby and by far, the saddest Derby I've ever seen.  Every year I wish for the horses to get around the oval in one piece and return safely to their barns.  This year, one stall was empty.  Eight Belles tried her heart out and gave her heart to heaven a few minutes later.  We have lost another beloved horse, but Rainbow Bridge has gained a sweetheart.  I'm so sorry she won't be around to thrill us any longer.  I hope Big Brown wins the Triple Crown.  With his red, white and blue silks, America needs a boost right about now.

06 May 2008 3:35 PM
Debbie A. Madden

Eight Belles was my favorite, and she ran a GREAT race. My heart broke for her when I saw her down and heard what had happened. She was a beauty and a Great Filly.

06 May 2008 3:35 PM

People who love horse racing are not cruel. We truely love it. It gives us goosebumps, it gives us hope, it gives us joy. We love the horses and we grieve when one gets injured. Horse racing has helped America through tough times in the past and now it is time for the fans to help the sport. Whatever changes need to made to make it safer for the horses and the jockeys must be brought into law. I think the best thing to do for the industry is to have it regulated on a national level not just a state level. Let's get together and have a commission just like football and baseball and make the rules we need to protect the animals that give so much to us.

06 May 2008 3:50 PM
Chris Taylor

eight belles was a great filly that I personally traveled to see at Fair grounds and Oaklawn park.I feel honored to have seen her run in person.To all of the conections of Eight Belles i deeply appologize on the lose of a female warrior who had a big heart for racing and doing what she loved.PETA needs to back off cause the horse was well loved and taken care of.Larry and Rick wouldn't have put anybody on her that would abuse the animal.You will be missed Eight Belles. WE LOVE YOU DEARLY

06 May 2008 3:53 PM

I started watching horseracing a year ago after Barbaro's death, and the truth is I am from a little country called Denmark in Europe and the first time I saw Eight Belles was in the Fantasy stakes, what a race, my favorite for the Kentucky Derby was Big Brown but she ran just in to my heart, and I knew she would do great, but not that great!

I saw the race in the night because of the time difference, but next morning when I started my computer went in on Bloodhorse I began crying one of the most beautiful horses in this world had to be put to sleep because of to broken ankles. She reminds me of my dog, who when she wants to do something she does it, and most of the time better than expected.

Rest In Peace girl, and in danish

Hvil I Fred Min Pige<3<3 you will be missed by me forever<3<3

Love you<3 and in danish

Elsker Dig<3

06 May 2008 3:53 PM
D Upham

My heart goes out to the owners of this beautiful horse.  I just wish they would make a rule about not racing these horses until they are at least 4 years old.  Maybe letting their bones develope first might help with some of these problems.  I also agree with the writer that recommended leg protection.  I go no where without it on my horses.  My prayers are with you.

06 May 2008 3:55 PM
Gogo Fan Kyle

Some people are saying that Gabriel Saez is at fault for the breakdown and ultimate death of Eight Belles, but I believe that it oould have happened even if a jockey like either Garrett Gomez or Edgar Prado was on her. Also I'm sorry for the connections of Eight Belles including jockey Gabriel Saez, owner Fox Hill Farms (Richard Porter)and trainer J. Larry Jones.  

06 May 2008 3:58 PM
Kathleen Pickett

Rest in Peace, Sweet Girl. My heart is broken - I loved you so.

06 May 2008 4:04 PM

It was a tragic accident but I don't think it would've mattered if she ran the day before. She was talented and her second place is not overlooked. These racehorses are being taken care of every second of the day. They don't run unless there connections think he/she is able to run well. Accident's happen. Why don't they make a big deal about other horse sports? The Rolex had TWO horses put down. I haven't heard about that yet......

06 May 2008 4:15 PM
VGP Shelby NC

Now Ruffian has someone to race against. I can just see the both of them running their hearts out. Hey girls, take turns winning your races. Ruffian and Eight Belles. Together forever, racing as they so loved to do.

06 May 2008 4:15 PM

To those who loved Eight Belles...She stood beside your bed last night, she came to take a peep.  

She could see you were crying, you found it hard to sleep.

She whinnied to you softly as you brushed away a tear, "It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here.....

It's now possible for me to be so near you everyday.

I say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

Eight Belles is gone in body but will always remain in spirit....she will always be loved and sorely missed.....

06 May 2008 4:16 PM
Kim M

As a child I saw Ruffian, and thought I'd never see her likes again.  I believe that Saturday I did, and just like Ruffian, Eight Belles' story ended too tragically and much, much too soon. We will never know what greatness EB might have attained - but we certainly saw her reach greatness on Saturday. The final irony of this tragedy is that Eight Belles died the day after Frank Whitely - Ruffian's trainer. Rest in peace, Eight Belles and Mr. Whitely.

06 May 2008 4:19 PM

She was amazing, racing toward Big Brown like a dark thunderhead. Now she is gone. I cannot help but hope that in her passing we will treasure our equine companions and make sure that none end up suffering in a slaughterhouse death. For her, Barbaro, Lost in the Fog, Pine Island all the ones who serve us day in and day out, make sure they all have a retirement home.

06 May 2008 4:29 PM

I have been in racing for many years and sadly there is no specific explanation.  My heart goes out to everyone involved with Eight Belles.  I know what it is like to come back and sit in that empty stall and weep.  Eight Belles you were a champion and loved by all.  I only hope horse racing learns from our lost heros and will now start to make much needed changes.  Not one thing will help these horses but everyone coming together and making major changes will save horse racing and it's champions.

06 May 2008 4:30 PM

After three days my heart is still breaking at the loss of this beautiful filly Eight Belles.  She gave her all for the Derby.  I don't think that she was about to let those boys beat her and 18 of them never got the chance.  I yelled for her every step of the way and when I thought that she just might pull off the win I was jubilant.  And then came Big Brown.  That broke my heart to see him pass her but I think that made her dig in even more.  Little did I know that I would be in tears a few minutes later.  Everything seemed fine until they came on the broadcast and said that something had happened to Eight Belles in the backstretch.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing and then a couple of minutes later came the heartbreaking news.  I turned off my TV and sat there and cried.  I will never forget how beautiful Eight Belles had looked flying down the homestretch.  Not a foot on the ground.  Now she is up there running with the greats like Ruffian, Go for Wand and most recently Winning Colors and Sharp Cat.  Rest in peace sweet girl.  We will never forget you.  

06 May 2008 4:36 PM
Patti OLeary

Eight Belles was stunningly beautiful and full of heart. As a horse owner and lifelong equestrian, I've experienced the loss of many great horses and it is always a heartbreaking experience. Our horses are our family and we love them whether they are backyard ponies or superstar race horses. My since sympathy is with Belle's owners, trainers, grooms...with everyone who knew her and lived with her and loved her. It was a privilege for us to even have those moments of watching her. God bless her.

06 May 2008 4:37 PM

Eight Belles was a great filly,and deserves everything she got and more.I was so happy seeing Big Brown blow away the field,until I saw the Ill-fated filly on the ground. I had always been a fan of her,and she will forever be with me.

Rest In Peace Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 4:37 PM

The time is NOW, racing. Not in 5 years, not in 30 years, NOW. Do something NOW.

06 May 2008 4:40 PM

My heartfelt condolences go out to everybody associated with Eight Bells, I was watching the derby & my heart dropped. I'm currently attending college to become a Large Animal Vet. and I own horses of my own and this was just a freak accident, one of those things that just happen nobody can explain.The ONE thing people need to take in consideration is they are putting these horses on the track WAY to young,you can't ask this out of a 2 year old or as they say 3 year old without these types of things happening their still growing bones can't take that kind of pressure without bones breaking & there is so much breeding for speed they are breeding out of the horses the best things, such as bone structure,& the all out conformation.Lets all quit pointing fingers and speak out for the horses.

06 May 2008 4:43 PM

I have been and owner for many years and have lost many horses. It is time we all get together and make the changes needed. We need to get the drug rules changed and let them run on oats and hay like they did many years ago. Eight Belles gave her all and ran her heart out because she was bred to do that,they don't know anything else so we need to protect them.Hopefully something good can come from this.

06 May 2008 4:44 PM

Eight Belles - beautiful spirit, magnificent, elegant lady! Watching you run was a gift to all of us. I can't believe your day of glory ended with so much sorrow. You left us too soon. Photos of you fill my cubicle at work. I can't seem to stop looking into your unforgettable eyes and wondering if you'll ever know how much you will be missed. Perfection in motion - that's what you were. Now, you are among the of the brightest ones in the heavens. Beautiful Belle - you will always hold a special place in my heart! You are a champion!

06 May 2008 4:56 PM

I think that this can be used to bring a change in the age which horses are trained and started. I have been riding 20+ years and would never dream of riding a 1 or 2 yr old of any breed. Horses need to be allowed to mature before they are stressed in races.

06 May 2008 5:05 PM

My deepest sympathies for all of Eight Belles Conections. What a great filly, and what a trajedy. While I believe the Derby field should be limited to 12, I can find no place to lay the blame for Eight Belles accident. It was simply a horrible accident. She was truly loved by her connections and received the best of care. The worst aspect of this sport is that sometimes the unthinkable happens, and a bone breaks. To blame the sport is ludicrous and cheap! I think we will see many changes with the advance of synthetic surfaces, something no one is truly knowledgable about yet.

In spite of the tragedy, I will never forget this race! She whipped the other 18 boys asses! Butt good!  I knew there wasn't time for her to catch Big Brown, but I haven't screamed at a television like that since Secretariat won the Belmont!

And don't take away from Big Brown! He has been great so far, and deserves the accolades

06 May 2008 5:15 PM

"Beauty in motion" is what it says on your horsehat and indeed you were. Now you are running with Ruffian and all the other greats.

06 May 2008 5:20 PM

Before every race I watch, one of the things that goes through my mind besides the speechless wow factor while staring at these majestic creatures, is "I really hope that none of them gets hurt."  I am sure you can all relate to how quickly my emotions went sour and I can honestly say the remainder of the evening and the past days every time I see a photo of Eight Belle, becomes saddened.  I really hope the industry continues to take steps in the direction that will provide a venue for these thoroughbreds to continue to wow us, but with us looking at their best interests to do so safely.  Finally, I think it is appropriate to mention again that Eight Belles finished second in a ridiculously huge field of 19 other colts.  And it was a very very impressive second considering Big Brown's hugely impressive victory and who is rightfully considered a freak among the boys who realistically could win then all.  In my mind, Big Brown aside, Eight Belles' showed talent that may have showed us she could have done the same.  

06 May 2008 5:20 PM
Jim Chehardy

There is no magic solution to the problem that occurred last Saturday at Churchill Downs when Eight Belles, was galloping out after her magisterial second-place finish when she sustained her injury and she collapsed on the track after fracturing bones in both front legs.

When I first came on the race track in the late forties and when racing was truly racing and not a money factory for the gaming corporations, we raced 7 to 8 months a year with an average of 8 races per day with race meeting usually lasting between 60 and 90 days. With travel involved it was not unusual for a horse to only start 8 to 10 times a year.

When a horse started having problems we turned them out on a farm for a number of months and when they returned from the farm it took at least 90 to 120 days before they hit the entry box.

With the money carrot dangling from the allure of casino gambling they are back in the entries most of the time in 30 days.

I worked for Mr. Marion Van Berg who I personally though was the best horseman on the planet and his theory was colts and gelding should run together and filly and mares should run together. I am sure other great horsemen may have a different opinion, but as a man who likes to bet a duct it or two, I would bet most horsemen would agree with Mr. Van Berg.

How much more money would Eight Belles would have been worth had she won the Kentucky Derby. I am sure Larry Jones, as a horseman would have preferred to run the filly with her sex. When most trainers make it to the top of the game after many years of busting their buts with cheap claiming horse, they tend to listen to the person who is paying the bills. Of course if you stand on principal and tell the owner that you will not be party to such foolishness, then you can count on going back to the bottom rung of racing in a hurry.

Please understand that I am not of the sentiment that the filly Eight Belles broke down because she was running with the boys. I am of the persuasion that you have to play the percentages and running with her own sex would have had been a less stressing performance.    

So until we start racing mechanical horses and I am sure that’s not to be, there are some things the industry can do to miniaturize the tragedy of what happen last Saturday at Churchill.

The all-weather track for all racetracks is a starter. Medication should be use as preventive measure instead of a patch to get the horse back in the entry box as soon as they can. Medications such as Clenbuterol should be legal closer to race time to help horses breath better, instead of having to stop your dosage so far out from post time that its close to being useless.

The game has left us on both fronts. Years ago track owners were individuals that understood the game and put their patrons first instead of the bottom line. On the backside you served a long apprenticeship before you apply for your trainers license and you had to prove to the stewards that you were deserving of a license.

Experience is needed on both the front side and back side. A college degree surely is needed in the accounting department. Hard work and experience is needed in most other departments. I have learned that when a man with money meets a man with experience, the man with the experience ends up with the money and the man with the money ends up with the experience.

All racing writers both print and electronic should have to live on the back side of a racetrack for 6 months before they start inflaming the public with rhetoric they know knowing about.

Lets hope that Eight Belles did not die in vain and the calamity of it all will help find a better way for the industry to survive.

Jim Chehardy

06 May 2008 5:28 PM

Once again, a magnificent Thoroughbred has died while racing for human sport. And once again, racing shrugs it off with comments like, "that's racing." Well, it shouldn't be. We are talking about lives here. Yet these animals continue to be bred for speed and not for durability. They are trained and raced too hard at too young an age. All for the almighty dollar. Eight Belles did indeed run the race of her life. But the price she paid is unacceptable. And as slowly as racing moves to try to make racing safer for all involved means that many more horses will die or be injured - literally running for their lives.

06 May 2008 5:38 PM

We will miss you dear filly. You can run like the wind on the wings of Angels now.

06 May 2008 5:40 PM


06 May 2008 5:40 PM
Becky G

It is sad to loose a filly with such great heart!

I always wonder if the foals were started under saddle when their bones were more formed, say 3 or 4 instead of 1 or 2, if there would be such tragic losses. Condition them slowly instead of pound them early.

06 May 2008 5:49 PM
Denise R

She trusted people and ran her heart out for them. She was big and young...and a filly with the heart of a lion. May she not have died in vain. Please someone help change the industry. I'm not saying don't run horses. I'm saying don't race them so young and have laws, testing, and protocols in place to better protect these horses. Now with the slots at so many tracks, I fear that more TB's will die needlessly. I will never watch another race as long as racing remains as is. RIP sweet filly...

06 May 2008 5:59 PM
Susie Bowie

I went to the sportsbook here in Las Vegas NV just to bet on and watch Eight Belles run and to wish her well. I will never be the same after watching the events unfolding like a horror movie. Eight Belles, May I meet you some day in heaven and put my arms around you. All my love to you.

06 May 2008 6:09 PM

 On Derby day I went from total joy (I picked the top 2 winners!) to total sadness.  My heart goes out to the owners,all involved with her training and racing and to all the other fans of Eight Belles.  Yes there are problems involved with this sport but to  place blame on the jockey is totally off base and unfair.  She will race on in our memories and in our hearts.  I hope that both Proud Spell and Big Brown go on to win their respective Triple Crowns - that would be the best tribute.

06 May 2008 6:22 PM
Love Lost


You stole your way into my heart and brought joy each time I saw you.I know you had the best of care and lots of love from all who were lucky to be connected to you.THANK YOU for the joy you brought me.

TO the people who have laid blame on all who have had their hearts broken at the tragedy of Eight Bells SHAME ON YOU. Changes do need to be made.But things will only get better if all work together.You need to educate your selves so you know what you are talking about.

TO the folks who owned and worked with this great filly;THANK YOU for sharing her with those of us who wern't so lucky.


06 May 2008 6:38 PM

1) End 2 yr old racing

2) Get serious about uniform drug rules (Bans-No tolerance just like human athletes) in all states and uniform drug testing--All horses pre-race--Random, unannounced drug tests at all racetracks

3)Get stats together on breakdowns--fatal broken out from non--over time--last 30-40 years. Is breeding the culprit? Have injuries really increased? Certainly trainers treat their horses as if they were more fragile nowadays--Way less races--Way further spaced out. If true: What can be done to improve the breeding stock for stamina/soundness?

4) Keep studying polytrack--Do they improve the stats? Difficulty handicapping cannot possibly do as much to drive away fans as these horrific tragedies

5)I really balked at it when suggestions first came out about spacing the Triple Crown out more--But if necessary due to the facts--Maybe it should be done at least temporarily until soundness has been reintroduced in the breed

06 May 2008 6:39 PM
Dr D

Eight Belles, you will never be forgotten. Your name joins the illustrious list that includes Pine Island, Exogenous, Go For Wand, Ruffian, Lamb Chop, Dark Mirage, La Prevoyante, and more.

We, the people, want uniformity in racing medications. We, the people, want provisions to care for these athletes after their racing careers.

06 May 2008 6:40 PM
Lisa in Colorado

Eight Belles: Run fast and free with all the other great ones in equine heaven. You ran a great race in the Derby and belonged there. You are loved and missed.

06 May 2008 6:45 PM
Junior Gators Racing Stable

My heart goes out to all of those who are in the family of Eight Belles, from all of here in Central Texas our heart goes out to you!  

We know your love and devotion doesn't go unanswered, these animals bring us joy each and everyday!  May you and all of those around you find peace in the midst of the storm!

06 May 2008 6:50 PM

Goodbye beautiful Belles~the world lost a champion filly, but heaven welcomed a new star!  

06 May 2008 6:51 PM

What a beautiful filly - Horse racing is a beautiful sport that makes the thoroughbred so special.

They are God's creatures and for us to love & admire on earth. Thank God for these amazing animals and giving them to us.  Horses love to Run - and these owners and trainers & jockeys are treating them as if they were Kings & Queens. You don't need worry about the racehorses for abuse.  Please look at the Animal Shelters & the animals found without homes & food.  That would be much better for all.  God Bless

the Horses!!!

06 May 2008 7:03 PM
Gr Eight Belles

RIP Eight Belles. My condolences go to her connections. How many horses do we have to lose in order for the industry to change? Over the years I have watched the breakdowns of Barbaro, Mending Fences, Go For Wand, Pine Island, Fleet Indian, Fanfare, George Washington, Teuflesberg, Chelokee, Ruffian (through videos) ... RIP baby Eight Belles. Run free.

06 May 2008 7:10 PM
Lynne Veitch


06 May 2008 7:17 PM
Dana - California

I have made it a point to watch the Kentucky Derby every year since I was 10 years old (1970).  I also start looking to pick my favorite a couple of months before the race.  This year I fell in love with Eight Belles.  She won my heart along with her last 4 races leading up to the Derby. I have owned horses all of my life and even though I have always owned Quarter Horses, there is something about these beautiful racing Throughbreds that makes your stomach turn flips when you see them run.  The pain I felt when they announced Eight Belles was down could not have been any greater than if she were my own. That sweet little lady will remain in my heart as does Barbaro and many others that will forever hold a special place in my heart and soul.  My deepest sympathy to Rick, Larry and their families. And to Eight Belles - Rest softly on the clouds of heaven and race swiftly with the wings of an angel. You are loved and missed.

06 May 2008 7:22 PM

I am deeply saddend by this tragedy. I bet on her to win actually she was the first horse that wrote down to bet. My mom who died of cancer 2 years ago, always bet on a gray horse or a filly that ran. Being that she was both I bet on her. I have cried many times over this. Being from Kentucky and having horses of my own and I couldn't imagine losing one of them. I know that this hard on everyone.  Remembering Barbaro, he was another great horse that I bet to win. I hate that this happened.  My prayers are with everyone that was involved with her. She put her heart into it and proved that she was a great champion.

We'll miss you Eight Belles!!!!

06 May 2008 7:23 PM

Eight Belles didn't choose to die on Derby Day, but she chose to fight to the finish. It's tragic but fitting that she died on the track, the place that she was bred for. Legs wraps wouldn't have prevented her injuries,I think she stumbled from exhaustion and just

never recovered herself. She will be remembered as the horse with the most heart that day, and showed that girls rule! God will most certainly bless Eight Belles  

06 May 2008 7:35 PM

Beautiful filly, I was awed by your glorious presence as you trotted along the track just days before a tragedy that shook our world. I will never forget the glow of health and contenment that radiated from your powerful frame. You, Eight Belles, were the real deal, a Champion. You will never be forgotten.

06 May 2008 7:39 PM
L. Wilks

I am only a small time barrel racer from Alabama, but my feelings and love for our animals are as large as anyone elses.  My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.  Anything like this just isn't fair, but we have to remember all these precious animals are only on loan to us from above, and they are His to call home when he chooses.  We just have the pleasure of loving them while they are here.  God Bless and prayers are with you on the loss of your Great Filly, Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 7:40 PM
G. Pantle

Farewell to a brave, courageous, and spectacular athlete, Eight Belles.

In her memory, may the racing industry do all that is possible to ensure the safety of the horses from birth, to the track, and through retirement.

06 May 2008 7:42 PM

I first saw Eight Belles on a ESPN telecast (don't remember which Derby prep race it was, might have been the Ashland.  Anyway, they did a clip on the 2 fillies that Larry Jones trained.  How could I NOT notice Eight Belles.  She was gorgeous (and not to mention gray)!

When I saw she had a chance of winning...I started cheering.  20 years since the last filly (may you also rest in peace Winning Colors).  How cool would that be if she won!  

Fate shows you sometimes why things aren't meant to be.  This one was way too close for comfort.  

06 May 2008 7:50 PM
Jim &amp; Terry in Wisconsin








06 May 2008 8:10 PM

RIP my beautiful girl.  We love you and you will be missed.  Someday we will meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.

06 May 2008 8:14 PM

Eight Belles was the ultimate Thoroughbred, the pinnacle of the breed.  She displayed every trait that breeders strive for:  courage, determination,intelligence,speed and the will to win. May she rest in peace with the other great ones.

06 May 2008 8:19 PM
Linda O.

What an amazing filly.  As I was watching the Derby, I was jumping up and down screaming with excitement as Eight Belles ran in the stretch run right behind Big Brown.  I was so proud she came in second ahead of 18 other talented colts.  Then in minutes it was over with a beautiful athlete being destroyed.  I was heartbroken.  It is an unfortunate part of racing and will continue to occur unless some limits are put on racing - like waiting until horses are older, limit the length and number of races in which younger horses compete.  Reading the other comments - I too wonder why the legs are not wrapped/supported in some way.  Also, the money that is made on these animals - trainers, owners, breeders,etc. - should have something in place for these wonderful creatures after their racing career is over.  They give their life for our enjoyment and should be treated better when they can no longer perform.  There are several Thoroughbred Retirement facilities across the country, but most rely on donations to operate.  There is plenty of money in the racing industry to care for all these horses or find them loving homes.  My daughter rides and competes in hunter/jumper shows.  Several of the horses at the farm are "off the track" horses who have become great  jumpers and wonderful companions.  When I look at their pedigrees and see the great horses in their lineage, I am amazed. I am happy they were lucky enough to come to our barn and be loved by some great girls.  I have visited Old Friends in Kentucky and had the privilege of meeting Michael Blowen.  He is an amazing person who adores his charges.  He and others at the farm work tirelessly to bring these wonderful champions home.  

The thing I believe needs to be looked at is breeding.  There should be limits as to how many Thoroughbreds are bred each year.  Maybe that would lessen the amount that don't make the racing cut.  

Besides caring for our 4 legged champions, there needs to be more benefits for grooms and injured jockeys.  The people closest to the horses are their grooms.  When Lava Man's groom was injured, I was so happy to hear Doug O'Neill say he would have a job with him the rest of his life.  Also, racing is a cutthroat business for jockeys and if they get injured and cannot ride, they do not get paid.  I am glad to see something finally being done about that as well.  

The majority of people in the racing business are in it for the love of the horses.  These losses hit them hard.  

My condolences to Eight Belles owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, and anyone else involved with her.  

Rest in Peace beautiful girl!

06 May 2008 8:27 PM
Square Peg Ranch

I was out on a trail ride with students when the Kentucky Derby ran this year.  Upon our return to the ranch, I rushed inside to watch the replay of the race on my computer.  Big Brown owned the race from start to finish and showed the world that we may have a true phenom on our hands.  No surprise to me who has admired the colt for some time.  The real treat was watching the valiant filly Three Belles chase the colt down the stretch as the other horses tired.  I emerged from my office to tell my students that Big Brown was "the real deal" and that the only horse to be brave enough to give him chase was a fantastic dark gray filly named Eight Belles.  I was gloating as I brushed my own haughty OTTB mare Gigi.

"Um, Joell, I guess you didn't see after the race" one of the mothers said with veiled eyes.

I held my breath "No, what happened?"

"The filly broke down after the finish and had to be destroyed."

I couldn't speak.

After the girls left, I dragged myself back to my office to get the whole story.  Sure enough, I found a news story with a photo of the filly, lying on the track with racetrack personnel holding her head the way you do when you need the horse to stay down, because their legs are destroyed and you have to deliver mercy as quickly as possible.

I've been there.

For two summers, I drove that van that followed the races and carried the veterinarian armed with splints and the case of the lethal injection.  Each race, I'd drive the vet around behind the last horse just praying that we wouldn't be needed.

Every morning, I ran from barn to barn riding any horse that somebody would pay me to ride.  I was tough, I was brave, I was scared all the time.  I lived with fear and excitement in my belly every moment.

I've defended racing for so many years now that it's almost automatic.  I know that the animals are pampered and revered.  I've seen first hand owners that "love their horses" and are dedicated to, if not caring for their horses for life, at least to finding them homes when their careers are over.  Sadly, these owners are the exception and not the rule.  What is not exceptional is a horse that loves to run, lives to sprint and craves the race.  There are lots of them.

Gentle reader, let me disabuse you of a few notions:

   * Eight Belles' jockey never hit her in the last 1/16 mile of the race.  She was not going to catch Big Brown and her rider knew that.  He urged her on with 5 whips between the 1/4 pole and the 1/8 pole.  Less than most of the other riders chasing the filly.

   * Eight Belles ran a gutsy race that she was well qualified for.  She was much the best of the remaining 19 horses in the race who were 19 of the best 3 year olds in the world.

   * The track surface of Churchill Downs was maintained as meticulously as humans can manage a track.

What I also know is that I immediately left my computer screen after reading the story and ran into the stall of "Will Daisy Do" a recent arrival to Square Pegs.  Like Eight Belles, she is a beautiful 3 year old Tb filly.  In her racing debut, she suffered a fracture of her tibia.  Unlike Eight Belles, she's going to be okay with a bit of rest and a lot of patience and retraining.  Daisy is the sweetest filly at the ranch.  She snuggles anyone who will stand next to her and will breathe sweetly into your neck and then offer you her big pink tongue to pull and scratch.  There isn't a daylight hour that goes by without little girl squeals coming from Daisy's corner of the barn as she tugs at the shoelace or the jacket hood of some visitor to the ranch.  You have to see it to believe it.

Like you, I'm struggling with what seems like a senseless death.  I'd love to find someone to blame, rout out the greedy forces that caused her demise and feel vindicated. But perhaps more senseless are the horses that don't make names for themselves at the track and end up at slaughterhouses. For the twelve OTTB's at Square Pegs, they have a home no matter what.  It helps.  It makes the world of difference to those dozen. I had to stand in Daisy's presence and celebrate the fact that she was safe and loved.  That she would never have to prove herself again on the track.  She was alive and that was enough.

I don't think that the question is about the relative safety of racing.  Surely, the recent deaths in 3-Day Eventing that are covered in the horse magazines make us question all of the horse sports -- and we should.  What happened to that fantastic filly is a tragedy not only for the millions of people watching as for the owners, trainer and his staff,  for racing and certainly for the filly herself.  She died doing what she was bred, trained and loved to do.  If you have seen coverage of her prior four races, you will see the same grit and determination she showed in the Derby.

The tragic death of an athlete in her prime always calls us to value what we have and to acknowledge that life is precious and very, very fragile.  Nothing we do will bring Eight Belles back, nor Ruffian or Go For Wand.   I wept for all three.  Each a giant who put her life on the line against the boys, against the odds and each inspired me to be not only a better horse-person, but a better athlete and a better woman.  And if you disagree that these three fallen gals aren't athletes to be revered, take note that Go For Wand  was voted one of the top 100 Thoroughbred horses of the century and Ruffian was voted among the top female athletes of the century by Sports Illustrated.

While this isn't the perfect poem to close with, it's close:

A. E. Housman

To An Athlete Dying Young

THE time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,        

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay,  

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut

Cannot see the record cut,

And silence sounds no worse than cheers  

After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,

Runners whom renown outran

And the name died before the man.  

So set, before its echoes fade,

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,

And hold to the low lintel up

The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl's.

06 May 2008 8:28 PM

I can not remember when I didn't love horses and racing. I still love horses, but after the Derby I know I can never watch a live race. (I actually had my husband record the race so I could watch later if no jockey or horse got hurt.) I am still crying over the news of Eight Belles. I know that the Father will not forget her. He does not forget one sparrow that falls. She flew away home. It is still so sad. Who knows how long she pushed on in pain, only to fall and die.

  Breed for strength and stamina for a change. Maybe PETA goes too far, but someone somewhere needs to do something positive for these horses.

Watching these beautiful horses die on the track is heart breaking. Seeing Barbaro's breakdown was absolutely one of the most gut wrenching hurts I have ever felt. The Preakness and now our Derby and the Breeder's Cup too. I don't think I will be watching or betting races ever again.   God bless you Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 8:29 PM

Eight Belles- So many people love and miss you! You were truly amazing and I will always remember you! I'm sure you are in an amazing place right now! You really did go out in glory, doing something you truly loved.

RIP Eight Belles! I love you!

06 May 2008 8:31 PM
Deborah Thomas

Eight Belles was a real champion.  She was my 2nd choice to win the Derby, after Big Brown.  She reminded me so much of Rags to Riches, who rallied to win the last Belmont.  It was so sad to see her break down on the track, but the blame cannot be placed on the sport.  Her trainer, Larry Jones did a fantastic job of training her and all of her connections were behind her all of the way.  It was clear to see that she thoroughly lived to race and loved her job.  Eight Belles will be remembered as a champion for the fine job she did!

06 May 2008 8:38 PM
Irene Castle McLaughlin

My family has been involved with horses and supportive of racing for generations-my granfather was an owner and a steward at Arlington Park- and I have been a horsewoman my entire life. I have always loved the horses and am realistic about the risks inherent in all equine activities, but have developed ambivalent feelings about "the industry" as racing has changed. I remain hopeful that the serious issues in racing will be addressed because otherwise I'm not sure it has a viable future.

If Eight Belles on top of Barbaro, George Washington, and all the rest isn't enough to prompt industry leaders to face up to the task of re-structuring the industry, what ever will be? There have been countless studies and recommendations bogged down by the short-term interests of the status quo.

A "memory wall" is a step forward from the days when racing publications preferred to acknowledge catostropic injuries as little as possible, but please, someone, follow this up with some meaningful studies and action. Simply repeating the familiar rhetoric and reassurances that trainers love their horses while denying there are legitimate concerns about the effects of recent trends on horse welfare gets us nowhere. Individual owners and trainers cannot solve the complex structural problems that have developed, such as racing horses younger and faster and then sending them to the breeding shed.

The gallant Eight Belles and all the thousands of anonymous horses running for day money at third-tier tracks deserve some forethought about the conditions that govern their lives, not just tributes to their passing. Lets make it mean something better for the future.    

06 May 2008 8:55 PM
russell maiers

I have commented on several articles about Big Browns great win and Eight Belles tragic death, as well as what needs to be done to make racing safer.


I have finally watched replays of your race number 5 and I was totally in awe when I saw you have first run on the leaders, nearly steadied twice, go around to the outside, and the Big Brown 3 lengths in front. I now realize you had it. With no traffic troubles, you my friend, would have had 5 lengths when he made his run and yes he would have had to catch you. We both hope the Big Brown wins the Triple Crown right Eight Belles? But I saw what I saw on the replay and now I know what you have known all along. Great race our gracios lady, EIGHT BELLES  

06 May 2008 9:06 PM
Julie K

I didn't see the race, but caught the tragic incident the next morning. I got chills and tears all at once. Even thinking about it now makes me want to cry. If this doesn't prove our equine companions desire to try for us, I don't know what does. Please go out and hug your horse(s) today!

06 May 2008 9:07 PM
Betty McInerny

I am a thoroughbred owner with partners, and lost my colt via a breakdown during a race @ Santa Anita Park in January 2008. My colt's injury was the same as 'Eight Belles,' but only one ankle was severly broken, and he had to be immediately euthanized.  Words cannot express the heartfelt sorrow I feel for the owner of that wonderful filly. I know the pain that one goes through losing a great horse!  I was hoping she would run in the Kentucky Oaks, and worried for her safety in the Kentucky Derby.  People should not blame the connections of 'Eight Belles.'  She was well taken care of and loved.  An error in judgement was made in her running in the Derby, but no-one can deny the great show she gave us.  She is a true champion and will be missed!  Hopefully, changes will be made in this 'Sport of Kings' to keep ALL the horses safe when they race.  Maybe 'Eight Belles' is just the filly to help this change take place in racing.  Rest in peace, beautiful 'Eight Belles.'  You will surely be missed!

06 May 2008 9:23 PM

Like many of you, I wonder about my allegiance to thoroughbred racing. I grew up with it. Exercise riding, etc. my best friend is still a trainer on the KY-FL circuit. Now, I rehab her former racehorses, mostly the geldings, for trail riding. This weekend has been beyond heartbreaking for me. I absolutely LOVED Chelokee last year. It goes without saying that I really liked Eight Belles and her chances in the Derby. I never thought either horse would be subject to breakdown. I am heartbroken. I will say this, I want breeders to be more responsible regarding soundness issues. Tracks to be less interested in fast times. In the end though, I don't want to be the person who doesn't know about Eight Belles life, and death. Or Ruffians. Or so many others. The only thing I think is more tragic then the loss of these horses is not knowing them. They are out there, whether we turn away or not.

06 May 2008 9:26 PM

Just wanted to say thank you to Eight Belles for the thrills--she is a champion!  Plus, look at all the pictures of her racing (in all her races) and of her training---SHE IS SMILING IN EVERY ONE!!  I know, horses supposedly can't smile---but SHE DOES!!  Luv ya girl!!  DREAM ON!!

06 May 2008 9:37 PM
Theresa Lyn

I just keeping about her...and Barbaro,George washington and all the horses who have died. I just pray they are happy and free now... I cry whenever i think about them. I hope none of this stuff is true about the jockey and all of that... I hope not, its just sad , she was gorgeous and a real champion , a true fighting girl.. she was something , that Eight Belles, she was really something...

06 May 2008 9:39 PM

Perhaps the Racing Industry might consider retiring the Triple Crown when Big Brown wins it in June.  Then, inaugurate a new Triple Crown starting next year - only, this time, for 4 year-olds.  Horses at age 4 would make the Triple Crown more exciting.  The extra year's growth and experience would no doubt make them less susceptible to injury.  

06 May 2008 9:50 PM
Mike from Ossineke, MI

Eight Belles, we are so proud of you.  You gave us all you had, you are a true champion. We will miss you alot.  The race you ran in the Derby was unbelievable, you beat 18 other guy horses!  Big Brown ran great too, I think you would have beat him down the road in another race.  Rest in Peace great Lady, run free with Barbaro and Ruffian.  

06 May 2008 9:57 PM
ponygirlup Las Vegas

all i can say is, i m heartbroken that this spirited & beautiful girl ended her life so tragically. a winner to the end.

my sympathies to all who knew her.

3 cheers for belle, barbaro, and all those who ran with hearts of gold. i wish racing could be / would be safer. these champions (every one in my mind) deserve it!

06 May 2008 10:13 PM
Elaine in Indiana

First and foremost, my most sincere condolences to all of those involved in the training and care of Eight Belles from owner to stall mucker.  I have watched the Kentucky Derby since before Secretariat won the Triple Crown.  I still have newspaper clippings from that incredible season.

My heart stopped when I heard that Eight Belles had been injured and then euthanized.  Just ten days prior to the race, I had to have my own horse put down from an apparent stroke.  He was about 25 and had been rescued about five years before I took over his care. He took care of me on the trail and we trusted each other.  I know he is running green pastures with that fine filly today, along with all the other noble creatures who have gone before them.  

There are probably many things that could be changed to improve horse racing.  This is not the place to air those debates.  I hope that the days and weeks to come see progress in that direction.  

Now is the time to remember a fine example of a wonderful horse and honor her efforts and memory.

Happy grazing and tell Max I really miss him.


06 May 2008 10:21 PM

Sincere condolences to all of Eight Belles' keepers and friends. We understand the emptiness in your hearts. To you, dear filly, we can only hope that you found some comfort in your final moments in the strong hands and soothing voices of those who came to your aid. Our thanks to them. Time will never dim the tragedy of this day, nor will it dim the greatness of your heart. May you rest in peace.

06 May 2008 10:31 PM

I am hoping that Belles' death is not in vain.  I am glad that, as a result of her very visible breakdown, there is a lot of spin on the perils of this sport.  With all the talk about 'great athletes' and the pros/cons of being one, we cannot lose sight of the fact that horses do not have a say in whether or not they want to volunteer to be raced, or shown, or jumped, or whatever.  Their talent, if they have it, leads to a tacit of consent, and it should not.  Yes Eight Belles was a willing racer, that was obvious.  But did she know the risk.  Was anybody able to explain to this spectacular filly the fact that she could be badly injured?  Let Eight Belles' death not be in vain.  Racing should be safe for horses.  There is much to much emphasis on running very young horses.  No coincidence that they're referred to as "colts" or "fillies", rather than mares or geldings or stallions.

I watched that filly run a beautiful race.  Like everybody else, I mourn her passing.  That poor nice young animal, to have her life cut short that way.  It might have been a freak accident; and yet it might have been forseen, if there were enough checks and balances to lessen the odds of this happening.


06 May 2008 10:36 PM

Saturday was a day of celebration and a day of great sorrow. In the matter of a minute we a horse racing community experienced both of these emotions. Eight Belles represented the best of thoroughbred breed-looks, athleticism and the rarest of traits which defines a true champion heart.

A true champion she was, the image of her crossing the line in front of 18 of her male peers is a feat we should all remember. Although that was her last race, the fact is it is now our race to make sure that champions like Barbaro, Ruffian, George Washington and Eight Belles sacrafices weren't in vain. It is our responsibility to insure the safety of both the equine and human athletes involved in the sport we all love. Eight Belles gave us all she had and it is our responsibilty to give her all that we have-

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Eight Belles connections.

06 May 2008 10:37 PM

Her stellar perfomance gives meaning to the tragedy. She was a great filly and should not be forgotten."When everything's made to be broken I just want you to know who I am." My heart goes out to Larry Jones. He is a great trainer and should not have to go thru such intense scrutiny. To those opposed to horse racing I ask you to let us mourn the loss of Eight Belles and fight your fight another day.

06 May 2008 10:40 PM

Such a great filly. To try so hard and run second to a superhorse. Any other year she would have won. It was so moving to see the relationship Larry Jones had with her. My heart goes out to all involved. God bless her.

06 May 2008 10:52 PM
melissa dietz

You were a beautiful horse - breathtaking to look at. A champion and thoroughbreds are made to run - God didn't give you the best of legs to stand on, but he sure did make them pretty. You gave us your all whenever you ran. May your spirit live on in horse racing. loveyou forever 8 belles

06 May 2008 10:54 PM
Heather from Saratoga, NY

I wish that those who are quick to judge and question the connections of Eight Belles see that it from a horseman's perspective.  These people WERE doing the right thing and they shouldn't doubt themselves.  As much as we hate to see them, breakdowns happen - the best a horseman can do is to pick themselves up and somehow carry on.  As a future horsewomen, I can only hope that the industry takes a long look at itself and tries to correct.  Also, breeders to to be more responsible in their breeding - let's start to more classic winners, rather than fast three year old retirees.  The time of another champion may be upon is and I hope everyone can appreciate it for what it hopefully will be.

06 May 2008 10:54 PM
Appaloosa Lover

I'm always afraid to watch racing because I'm terrified to see wonderful, brave horses break down and have to be destroyed.

These animals not only love to run, they will do anything their humans ask of them.  I have four Appaloosas.  Any of them would jump off a cliff if I asked.

Hopefully a better life for future race horses will be the true legacy of Ruffian, Barbaro, and Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 11:11 PM

Tell Ruffian and Go For Wand hello for me.

06 May 2008 11:11 PM

My heart is broken.

06 May 2008 11:15 PM

Michael Matz summed up the horrible situation with Eight Belles appropriately,  "The good ones try harder." And Eight Belles proved she was a very good one. She fought with determination, courage and heart to try to catch Big Brown and broke down as a result of that. It has nothing to do with the track surface at Churchill Downs, the accusation of the jockey's neglect, the fact that she was a large 17 hand filly racing against colts. She had the heart of a thoroughbred, never thinking of quitting, running through pain until it was too late. Please think of her as a gallant champion.

06 May 2008 11:15 PM

Eight Belles has a huge, giving, glorious heart. (I say "has" because she has surely carried it with her to the next stage of her life.)  

Eight Belles must be using that heart to serve some higher purpose, beyond running the grandest race of her all-too-short life.

In honor of her huge heart, perhaps we should each examine our own hearts and ask ourselves if we are as noble and purely motivated as she is. If we give of ourselves to others, for others' benefit and not our own, as unstintingly as she did in the Derby and off the track. If, indeed, we are fulfilling our highest purpose.

06 May 2008 11:18 PM

Goodbye, Eight Belles....

Our hearts ache over the tragic, painful injuries you had to endure, even if for a very short while....after giving your best, after making your people so proud of you, after winning second would have been cheered and graced with flowers after your victory, you would have been showered with even more love upon returning home....but your unexpected misfortune put a sudden end to your promising young life....what happened occurred so devastatingly, there was not even time to give you comfort, or to say could not have known your life was ending, but surely you felt relief from the terrible pain in your shattered limbs....and now you have drifted away from us....and you are gone....

Goodbye, Eight Belles....we love you so very much....

06 May 2008 11:39 PM

Oh what a girl! She made us all proud. She showed the boys girls can do whatever they can. What a beautiful, talented creature. There is something about a horse that is mesmerizing and captivating, and then to see the talent and heart of a TB is incredible. They are born to run and compete but we are responsible to keep them as safe as possible. This incident does not appear to be human error but oh how heartbreaking for every horse and horse racing fan. You my fair beauty did a great  job and was a prime example of a true champion. May your days now be filled with being a true unbridled spirit. You will never be forgotten and always loved dear, Eight Belles. Now in memory  of Eight Belles let's all do our part in helping with care of these gorgeous animals whether it be donating your time, money or are able to give one a home after their racing careers are over. May you always be happy in horse heaven, Eight Belles.

06 May 2008 11:58 PM
Horse Hugger, WI

Eight Belles was one of the most beautiful thoroughbreds I've ever seen. Ever since Go for Wand broke a front leg on the track I have been unable to watch a live televized horse race. Never would have preceived bilateral fractures. My condolences go out to all of Eight Belles people. What a tremendous loss, extremely saddend. Eight Belles is America's horse.

06 May 2008 11:59 PM

As many have already stated, I was absolutely thrilled as Big Brown won the Derby as I believe he is the first horse in a while capable of winning the Triple Crown (assuming his hooves stand-up). This feeling was soon destroyed with Eight Belles breakdown.

I have been involved in Thoroughbreds for the past five years and purchased my first horse last year.  I do not know if I can continue to support racing with the seemingly never-ending increase of breakdowns. Until I see an honest attempt to stave off breakdowns either through less importance being placed on breeding strictly for 2-year old breezes, implementation of synthetic tracks, or a unified drug policy with teeth that works I do not know if I can return to this sport. If anything comes of this tragedy I hope it is through some honest attempt by the regulators to bring change.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the whole Eight Belles team as I believe that they never meant any harm to come to Eight Belles.

07 May 2008 12:08 AM
Alexander Ragtime

Had Big Brown scratched (for any of a number of reasons why horses get scratched) Eight Belles would likely have won the Derby, and may still have suffered her life ending injury, just as it had unfolded on Derby Day. Then what...? The fallout from such an occurance would be unimaginable--perhaps the death knell of racing, itself. Thoroughbreds need not give up their lives to entertain us--stop breeding to unsound lines! Frankly, I've had enough.

07 May 2008 12:13 AM

As alot of you have mentioned, I watched as Ruffian was beating Foolish Pleasure, before breaking down. Contrary to the main article, this is not a rare occasion. My opinion is that it is strictly a money thing. I think it is time to go back to square one and reconsider what is important...finishing the race with a healthy horse or watching as as a horse runs it's heart out and dies for the effort. Eight Belles gave all and more to run this race and died for it. I think I will no longer watch  horse racing. All I pray for now is that all come home and no injuries. It is not worth watching. When I was a teen-ager I worked for a racing stable (grooming and hot walking) and I did not like the sport then.

I thing it is time to slow down and re-think training and bone density, and also I disagree with running an immature horse (at two for goodness sakes). I am sick after the Derby. I know it is a tradition but changes need to be made. As someone said..why do we need another Triple Crown, if it means the death of a good horse. My heart goes out to all the Thoroughbreds that have died giving their all. May all the Thoroughbreds run and play at the Rainbow Bridge never to feel pain again.

07 May 2008 12:34 AM
Vicki Atz

Fly with the angels sweet baby. Eight Belles you gave us a thrill, you gave your all, your heart, your entire life. All gone in a matter of minutes. Your glory was fleeting, rest in eternity on your laurels. You will be missed and you'll never be forgotten. You stole my heart. Tears of sadness for me saying goodby. Run in glorious fields, run in the wind , free and beautiful and strong ! Forever young ! Love, Vicki

07 May 2008 12:36 AM
Vicki Atz

Rest in peace angel. You are a winner. You ran your heart out. Never to be forgotten. Love, Vicki

07 May 2008 12:42 AM

Sweet Beautiful Belle....

You are a true Champion.

You gave your all right until the end.

You captured everyone's heart and then they were broken.

You will not have died in vain, as you have opened the eyes of those that let you down in life...

and if they are wise, they will make it better for the ones that follow.

You don't have to run anymore sweet girl.

Go the baby that you never got to be.

07 May 2008 12:59 AM
Patty and Sven the horse

As the owner of a Thoroughbred that was never raced, is 21 years old, and is still competing in Dressage, I have a love of the breed I can't describe. To see these babies raced, and ultimately break down kills me. Let's race them older, stronger and wiser. PLUS with "big horse" bones. Not baby bones. We do not have to abolish the racing industry. Just temper it with better breeding controls and a bit more common sence and love for the horse than the love for fast money.  

07 May 2008 1:51 AM
Norma Jean

That darned Rainbow Bridge is getting awfully crowded! I prayed, right before the start," please, I don't care if I don't win a dime, Dear Lord keep them safe." Well, It didn't work. I won WPS on Belle, but I'll never cash this ticket. I'm so tired of crying, worrying: I feel like an idiot. It's like a train wreck, you can't look away. This is Horse Racing ~ heartbreak & tragedy. But I love this sport, these gorgeous animals. Please, please let some real change start happening. Not only with the racing industry but for the horses after racing. Everyone on here has finally let me know I'm not a crazy person, crying when a horse is injured or worse euthanized. I was beginning to think no one else was like me! Barbaro~ I cried for weeks. I have all of the books on him but can't read them ~ I cry.... As for PETA, they do some great things, but they need to stick to what they know, and Horse Racing "ain't it." God Bless Larry for loving Belle as he did, it was very obvious. To all the connections of ALL the Horses, please see to the Horse AFTER their career in racing is over. And continue to research all the ways to make the sport safer for both Horses & Jockeys. It hurts my heart so much to witness these incidents, I'm just heartbroken. Please don't let these wonderful animals die in vain. Make it mean something.....

07 May 2008 2:31 AM

This is a beautiful filly who was lost too soon. The ESPN feature on her before the race was AWESOME. To the connections - the loss of those special horses leaves a mark, whether the world knows their name or not. She'll be remembered.

07 May 2008 3:24 AM
Donna from Massachusetts

I am an avid horsewoman and also a holistic veterinarian.

I have not been a big fan of the racing industry because I feel that that horses are started way too young, pushed too hard, and given too many drugs (no matter what the industry "experts" say.)  

I am a dressage enthusiast and the golden rule is to allow the horse to mature and develop his abilities slowly, never pushing.

When I think of Eight Belles, it saddens me to the depths of my being.  Yes, unforseen accidents happen in any sport.  I know she was loved and given the best of care by her humans.

The racing industry has to take a good look at itself, make some serious changes and become more an advocate for the horse.

Eight Belles, I love you, great filly, I hope you are prancing in the heavens, free of earthly encumbrances.

07 May 2008 4:00 AM

I was so thrilled to see Eight Belles come in 2nd, she ran the race of her life, but the euphoria did not last when I saw her down. I was hearbroken. She was such a beautiful and couragous filly, a true lady. She ran her heart out at the Derby and will be remembered as a heroine. She will go down in history. She is up in horse heaven now with Barbaro, George Washington, Pine Island, and all the other champions. I just hope that we continue to look for ways to prevent these types of injuries from occurring because horse love to run and they are the most beautiful animals I have ever seen. My sympathies go out to the Eight Belles team. You could see the love that Larry Jones had for this horse and my heart goes out to them all.

07 May 2008 4:07 AM
J. Spangler

Eight Belles showed the amazing talent, and especially heart, that proves an inspiration to us all; human and horse.  

May her terribly untimely passing provide an impetus for the incredibly "broken" sport of horseracing to make some major changes for the betterment of safety for both horse and rider.  I am an avid fan.  However, to see the industry continually shoot itself in the foot is disheartening.  Reading KHRA's comments/response makes it ever so clear how terribly stubborn the industry has become.  Continued research on synthetic tracks, a move to racing derbies at the age of 4, and modifications to the whip in the sport are obvious needed improvements.

The industry's over used, and ineffective, response of "it's part of the game" is unacceptable and will only continue to draw people away from horseracing.  KHRA's comments prove that the biggest obstacle to a florishing horseracing industry is the industry itself.

You will never be forgotten Eight Belles!  God bless you!

07 May 2008 6:39 AM
Mike from Ossineke, Michigan

Two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness is too hard on the horses.  Three weeks between the Preakness and Belmont is not enough time either.  4 weeks between each leg of the Triple Crown should be mandatory.  I think it is dangerous to run a 3 year old coming out of his toughest race of his life, 2 weeks later in the Preakness.  I sure hope nothing happens to Big Brown like it did Barbaro in the Preakness.  Give these horses some proper rest during Triple Crown races.  We love you Eight Belles, rest in peace girl.

07 May 2008 6:54 AM

You were a beautiful girl, EB, and we are heartbroken. Godspeed.

07 May 2008 7:01 AM

God speed Belle - rest in peace.  You deserve it. Have a great breeze with Barbaro

07 May 2008 7:52 AM
Rebecca Raleigh, NC

I hope the tragic end and the reactions of "fans" doesn't take away the splender of Eight Belles' run.  She finished in glory, let it be.

07 May 2008 7:53 AM

Sports injuries are always difficult to watch. In all sports there are injuries. I have seen injuries in Football, Hockey, Car Racing, Gymnastics, Boxing. Shall I go on. But yet I hear more out cry for the injury (and some times death)for animals than I do for people.

Dignity for all life needs to be protected. Yet life is messy and death can occur in any of our spectator sports. In a perfect world none of us would have injury be a part of the sports we like to watch.  

07 May 2008 8:10 AM

Dear Eight Belles,

May God and St. Christopher have you in their infinite pasture. May your true spirit be free now that you are out from under the cruel people who used your beautiful body to make money. You were a true beauty of heart and soul and I will not forget your name, your beauty, and your spirit. You and the many other race horses who have died or have been permanently damaged will not die or become crippled in vain. Many of us humans are fighting for changes within, or the complete disinigration, of horse racing. You were loved and will be missed by those who knew your true spirit.


A fan of the beauty and spirit of horses, not horse racing.

07 May 2008 8:17 AM
Ellen Weaver

There are few words after witnessing such a worthy advisary to Big Brown, fall to her knees, as Eight Belles. Horse racing is a gamble from all perspectives. Initially as I sat in disbelief, I swore as I did with Barbaro, I would not watch the remaining Triple Crown races. But my hopes are that Big Brown can pull it off, and give this sport some optimism again. Eight Belles ran an amazing race. And she is and will be missed terribly. Let's all just think that possibly she is running free with all the other amazing racehorses we have had the pleasure to see. And let's all put our thoughts towards safe racing every time a horse leaves the starting gate.

07 May 2008 9:04 AM

Some aspects of racing need some attention: breeding practices (less of it, and more attentive to soundness issues--breed for soundness, not just speed)and more regulating of training and health issues.

I don't remember seeing such frail creatures back in the days of Secretariat and Slew.

Rest in peace, Eight Belles.

07 May 2008 9:07 AM
Robert O

First of all, My heart goes out to the Jockey, Trainer and Owners of eight belles.

Most of all ( PETA) are the Morons of the world, they know absolutely nothing about the sports and are trouble makers. They need to go away and get a life!!.  

I saw the race on T.V. I said this cannot be happening again. My wife and I go to the Preakness every year. I was there for the Barbaro race at the Preakness it happened right in front of us. Its not a good thing to see. I cant imagine what the owners of Eight Belles are going through.

But, I have to agree with most comments above and the horses of old ran there butts off for many years before stud duty. Because they where breed the proper way.

The industry needs to take a step back in time and rebuild for the future and forget about speed.

The problem I see is everyone is trying to recreate (Ruffian). what they dont understand is Ruffian was a natural who kicked the crap out of every horse in her way. Ruffian was not a robot built on drugs & medication.

She was a true champion, Lets bring the true champions back to the race tracks.

07 May 2008 9:17 AM

What a tragedy to a talented horse.  It does seem that we have a lot of breakdowns here in the US.  It makes me wonder if horses are asked to run too early.  They haven't finished growing.  Especially Eight Belles, a 17 hand 3 year old filly that had grown tremendously quick and her bones couldn't hold her huge body.  I love to watch the Triple Crown races but things like this make me think twice.  It hurts me to think she lost her life for our entertainment.  What a brave girl!

07 May 2008 9:41 AM
Lynda H

Farewell to a gorgeous brave girl! I didn't plan to watch the derby but ran into it.  When I saw her on the track, I thought. "She's the one!"  I was thrilled to see her in 2nd place at the end, and could not believe my ears when I heard she was down on the track.  I prayed so hard she would be okay, and when I heard she had been put down, it just broke my heart.  What a waste of a gorgeous filly with so much promise.  After all the other heartbreaking accidents, please, racing industry, make this about these huge hearted horses, and not about the almighty dollar!  These are living breathing beings, not machines! May Heaven be kinder to you, beautiful Belle!

07 May 2008 10:16 AM

Dear Eight Belles , you are with the angels now, you ran your heart out, and you were beautiful to see. Please watch over those others unknown sweethearts on the track everyday, that also give their lives , and  are forgotten so often after their short carrers are over. Please let's all make a donation in her name to places like ReRun, Barbaro Fund and of course the Grayson Jockey Foundation. My thoughts are with Larry Jones, Gabriel, and all the connections.

07 May 2008 10:25 AM

i think eight bells could have been a champion she was a good racehorse  and i will miss her it is sad that she had to be put down.

07 May 2008 10:41 AM

A beautiful fleeting star... Some say Barbaro met you at Heaven's gate and now you are both running free together. This is the only way we can find some semblance of peace and serenity after witnessing the fall of such a magnificent creature.  You gave us your all Eight Belles.  You left 18 colts in you wake.  Way to go girl!

07 May 2008 11:21 AM

How sad!! I prayed before the race, as I always do, that all of the horses would be safe. I thought my prayer had been answered and then they showed Eight Belles. God love her and keep her! I know her connections are heartbroken over losing her. How sad to run second in the Derby and not be able to have good memories of it! Ignore all of the negative things the media are saying, I know as a thoroughbred owner myself how loved and well taken care of these horses are.

07 May 2008 11:49 AM
Connie H

I too, remember Ruffian... Now another fine filly is gone...  At 17 H another year would have made a huge difference in her skeletal maturity...

A fine filly with True Grit~  

07 May 2008 11:55 AM

Deepest, heartfelt condolences to Larry Jones, Rick Porter, Gary Saez and their respective families. Please know that a nation IS supporting you, and knows that the passing of this amazing and cherished filly was nothing you created, wished for, or brought on. Our hearts break with yours, and may time bring you smiles at her memory. To Mr. Jones specifically, we all saw first-hand the astounding relationship you had with your girl (that mesmerizing piece done in the pre-show on Derby Day was the best I have ever seen done), and in those few moments alone, we know--we KNOW--you lost a beloved friend. Take comfort in the fact it was mutual, that filly adored you. Give Proud Spell and extra pat for us all, you are all in our thoughts, and we will never forget your Eight Belles.

07 May 2008 12:43 PM
Jason Shandler


By Lady Cat Powers

After The 'Belles' Have Stopped Ringing After The Tears That I've Cried My Mind Will Continue To Question Why This Beautiful Filly Has Died ~

On A Day Filled With Joy & Excitement

On A Day With A Dream Of A Crown

The Dream Turned Into A Nightmare

When that Gorgeous Filly Went Down

After The 'Belles' Have Stopped Ringing

After Reality Then Sets In

How Do I Stop Tears From Falling

Where Do I Even Begin?

Questions Remaining Unanswered

For A Filly Who Gave It Her All

Who Brilliantly Ran To Be 2nd

Only To Stumble And Fall

After The 'Belles' Have Stopped Ringing She'll Run In The Pastures Above She'll Always Remain In Our Memory As Beauty ~ And Courage ~ And Love

So Silently Now 'Belles' Are Ringing

Is It Only My Ears That Do Hear

The Tolling of 8 Belles So Solemn

Reminding me ~ That She Is  Not Here


Go Run With Ruffian!

(C) RUFFIAN aka Lady Cat

May 3, 2008

07 May 2008 12:58 PM

Eight Belles was doing what she loved to do best--run!  These horses are bred to run and love to do it much like dogs who were bred for certain jobs love to do those.  Would a retriever ever be happy if he couldn't retrieve things?  Horse racing isn't cruel, there are bad things and bad people in everything.  I believe Eight Belles had the very best of care and love from her people, all creatures should be so lucky.  It was a terrible tragedy that her life was cut short.  As to the allegations by PETA that there is too much whipping in racing...there are regulations against excessive use.  That said, I agree sometimes it is used more than I think it should be.  However, if you've ever seen horses in the pasture playing or fighting over who gets the hay you would realize that they are a lot harder on each other than we are with a slap of the whip a few times.  May Eight Belles rest in peace and enjoy racing against her comrades who preceded her.  To see her cross that finish line with ears pricked, you know she knew she did good.  Peace be with her and her family.

07 May 2008 1:14 PM

I remember watching the race and being quite impressed with Eight Belle.  She was running a great race and once she got out from behind horses, she almost looked like she might catch Big Brown. I turned to a stranger standing next to me and said no doubt who the best 3 year olds in the country are. We watched the other colts finishing unaware of anything happening as the simulcast was showing the other horses finishing up. We just got a glimpse of a horse on the ground not know which one because there was no information. When I found out it was Eight Belles I cried, its such a tragic loss. She was a true CHAMPION in my eyes and she went out as such. I had a winning ticket on her but havn't cashed it in. I am keeping it as a memory.  

07 May 2008 1:19 PM
Princess Blue


Eight Belles was destined for glory either way. Had her legs been strong enough, she would have finished in 1st place. It's too plain to see. Had she finished in 1st place... she was destined for glory anyway. One thing for everyone to remember is this; Eight Belles put forth the strongest effort, all the way to the finish line. She fought every step of the way. I stand proud today to have been in that number who picked Eight Belles to win... because in the end... Eight Belles is my winner and I will uphold her name in the highest respect for what she did that day. My utmost condolence goes out to Richard Porter; Fox Hill Farms, Robert N. Clay; Three Chimneys Farm, Larry Jones and Gabriel Saez. Hats off to each and every one of you!

07 May 2008 1:48 PM

Eight Belles reminds me so much of Ruffian and Personal Ensign.  The same heart and drive and ability to captivate an audience.  I watched them race, and watched 2 of them fall.  Larry, Rick and Gabriel, you are all in our hearts, I know that you will shed tears when you walk past her stall.  We will all miss her.  But, she now has the perfect life - she will never again feel pain or be tired, only sheer joy.

07 May 2008 2:00 PM

what a tragic loss a beautiful champion gone you will be forever missed and loved run free beautiful girl. Now you can run with Barbaro, Ruffian, and Secretariat rip sweet girl.  

07 May 2008 2:02 PM
Don V

My sincerest sympathies to Larry Jones, Mr. Porter, and all who were associated with and loved Eight Belles for the tragic loss of such a wonderful example of Thoroughbred greatness and class.  She was and is a champion and I feel badly that her life was cut short for the sport and for the fans.  What heights of greatness would Eight Belles not achieved!!!

I only hope that with her sudden departure, the racing industry would take a long look at the ages we begin training and racing these noble creatures, and change them.  No horse should begin training or race until three years old.

I have witnessed too many break downs of our equine athletes lately, and the industry needs to change.

I am looking forward to meeting Eight Belles when it is my turn to cross the Rainbow Bridge.  May God bless her and all her connections remaining.

07 May 2008 2:14 PM

May you now run in the greenest pastures pain free, the sun shining on you in all your beauty Eight Belles. You will be missed.

07 May 2008 2:27 PM
Big Sis

Please excuse the length of this post. It was something I wrote Sunday evening for my blog and I sent it to my mom, who suggested that I post it here.

I just had to take a moment this evening to write about the terrible tragedy that occurred at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby, yesterday afternoon. It may have been hundreds of miles away, but it was close to my heart.

The Kentucky Derby had always been something of an event in my home growing up. My mother spent a good part of her childhood at the Santa Anita racetrack, perching on the rail, mingling with jockeys, sneaking into barns to peak at champion thoroughbreds. She dreamed of one day galloping a horse along the back stretch at breakneck speeds, a fantasy she played out as she would fly with her horse Dina across the desert wilderness of 1960s Southern California. One of my favorite pictures of my mom is mostly a blur- the landscape around her fading into a wash of colors, the only thing in focus is a beautiful young woman crouched atop her speeding mare, hair blowing in the wind and a smile that seems ready to erupt into a squeal of pure delight.

Despite her passion, however, racing had always remained a spectator sport for my mom. She has had horses off an on throughout her life, mostly as a hobby, occasionally as a means of employment, always content to just be near the magnificent creatures that she loved. The blue grass of Kentucky seemed to be a watercolor dream that we got to share with her once a year, the first Saturday in May, when the TV came on, bringing the championship horses back into vivid color, and she would giddily pore over each entry in the Kentucky Derby.

The yearly event was always something I enjoyed, because I too share in my mom's passion for horses. But more than anything I think I just loved to see her so excited about it. As I have grown and moved away from home, I'll admit, I've missed a few years. But this year was different.

Earlier last year, my mom had the opportunity, for her 60th birthday, to travel to Kentucky. For a few days, she lived the dream. She toured the barns, she walked Churchill Downs, and she attended the Keeneland Sales. I spoke with her on the phone, once or twice during her trip- very briefly, of course- and she sounded nearly breathless with excitement, trying to tell me everything at once, yet hurrying to speak quickly so that she could get off the phone and re-immerse herself in the atmosphere. I couldn't help but smile during those conversations, thinking that my mom sure didn't seem like she had just turned sixty. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Shortly after that trip of a lifetime, my mom stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime. Her name was Tricks, an unassuming bay thoroughbred mare with an elderly owner who was ready to retire. She was a beautiful horse, at a ridiculously low price. A price that became even more ridiculous as my mom started to research her bloodlines, consisting of Thoroughbred racing royalty. It was too good to be true, but there she was, the mount to carry my mom right into her blue grass watercolor fantasy. Perhaps it is true that when you have a dream and the time is right, the whole universe really does conspire to help you achieve it.

And so Tricks joined the rest of my mom's brood, a shining Thoroughbred princess living just down the barn aisle from a moody Tennessee Walker, a goofy Arabian, an elderly Morab, and a middle-aged quarter horse. Tricks was kind enough not to be judgmental, and she quickly found her place amongst the herd as my mom worked just as quickly to find her a suitable mate.

After some months of trial and error, a handsome (and somewhat famous) stallion named Birdstone was courted and Tricks moved away to be with the hopeful soon-to-be father of her foal. Just weeks before the Kentucky Derby, my mom sent me a message with the exciting news- Tricks was expecting! An ultrasound had confirmed that she was with foal.

And so the Kentucky Derby arrived, this time with more excitement in our family than usual, because not only had we set a foot a foot in the racing world, but our little girl Tricks had family running in the race! My mom called me with the names- watch out for Eight Belles- she's Tricks' aunt (sister of her mother) and Visionaire- he's Tricks' half brother.

I watched all of the pre-race coverage, and talked with my mom on the phone while we watched together. Every time Eight Belles would come up, we'd get a little giddy, as her statistics showed that she might really have a good showing. I listened to the commentators make their predictions, and I thought to myself, Eight Belles is going to do better than they think. They just don't think she'll do well because she's the filly and all the commentators are guys so they're just sexist. She's going to do better than they think. I just had a feeling about it.

As the race began, I held my breath, but I was smiling inside. My inner smile turned into an outward grin as the pack approached the final stretch and our little filly Eight Belles- seeming more like a family member to me than just another racehorse- made her move to second. I hadn't expected her to win, but watching her hold that second place just made my heart leap for joy. It was as if she and I had shared in a secret, and I had just known she could do it. As she crossed the finish line taking second place, my heart was galloping right along with her and I cheered aloud, "She did it! She got second! That's my girl!!" I was sure that somehow sweet pregnant Tricks was proud of her aunt and the valiant race she had run against the guys. I was basking in the glow of her accomplishment when Big Brown spooked, throwing his jockey, and the commentator said that a horse was down on the track.

I was immediately concerned, and then they said it was Eight Belles. My heart caught and I strained to see and hear what was going on. I know enough about horses to know that if a horse is down- really down and not getting up- that something is terribly wrong. Still, there was a voice in my head that wouldn't let me believe it could be that bad. I mean, she had just run an incredible race, healthy, strong, beautiful Belles- maybe she just had a sprain, and she's just tired so she can't get up quite yet...? I kept my breathing even and my thoughts careful, even as I heard the words, "heart attack," and "aneurism." Then the news came from a shocked and flustered vet- two broken ankles, had to be euthanized. Two broken ankles? How could she break them both? Euthanized? It took a moment for the word to register. Eight Belles was dead. Less than 2 minutes after a glorious finish and she was now lifeless on the very ground her hooves had pounded moments before.

I collapsed to my knees in front of the television, my hand clasped over my mouth, tears brimming behind my eyes. I just didn't understand. It didn't make any sense.

I waited nearly a half hour before I called my mom. I know from past experience that she wasn't going to be able to talk for awhile after something like that. She would collapse in tears to even hear of a horse being hurt in a book or a movie. And for it to be Eight Belles, the filly that represented the dream she had held in her heart for so many years- I just knew that it would be too much for her to bear. As I reeled from the tragedy of it, I fought with the need to get more information and the aching desire to turn off the tv. Why were all of these people celebrating? Didn't they see what had just happened? Why are they laughing and hugging one another? I was confused with the dissonance between the cheery images on the screen and the shock and pain that filled my heart. Certainly they couldn't be blamed- their dreams had just been realized. But for another trainer, another jockey, another owner and their family, their dreams had just been shattered into a million awful pieces. It didn't take long for me to see that I wouldn't get any more information from the television, and I turned it off, unable to watch the ceremony in the winner's circle. Big Brown will go for the Triple Crown; Eight Belles would never run again.

There are many people placing blame in this tragedy, faulting the jockey, the trainers, the breeders. But at the end of the day, at the end of that race, at the end of the finish line, Eight Belles was a beautiful thoroughbred who ran the race of her life. I know horses well enough to know that they won't do anything well that they don't want to do. And Eight Belles wanted that race- you could see it. Perhaps she didn't plan the ending, but I doubt she would regret it. She will live on in our hearts and our memories, and perhaps in the tiny heartbeat of a little foal whose great-aunt was a true champion.

07 May 2008 2:33 PM


07 May 2008 2:36 PM
Missy Dale

As the owner of a 31 year old, healthy, retired, off-the-track Thoroughbred mare, I am saddened for the loss of such a young bright spirit as Eight Belles. I can only imagine the pain and sorrow her daily care givers, trainer, jockey,and owner must feel.  And I am even more sadddened by the negative press thrown their direction.  Eight Belles, like Princess Diana, left us at the top of her game.  That is always hard to take.

07 May 2008 2:38 PM

That was actually one of the saddest things I've ever seen, right up there with Barbaro's breakdown.  I feel like she would have been the top of a talented class of fillies this year.  My deepest sympathies to her connections, and I hope they get another like her soon.

07 May 2008 2:59 PM

Race horses break down because of the young age in which they are forced to start working underdeveloped bodies far too hard. but anyone who thinks a racehorse is mistreated or ill taken care of is for the most part WRONG...sure there are exceptions to every rule. Race horses get nothing but the best feed and hay and veterinary and farrier care.  you can not expect  high performance  from a horse that gets anything but the best. I am not a big fan of the racing industry only because I have seen too many young animals who suffer  breakdowns and injuries they should not have at such a young age but I would never accuse the race world as a whole to be cruel to theses magnificent animals. horses are designed to work and exercise. we as owners have  our horses too fat and too lazy for their own good. the horses that are working daily and are physically fit will live a much longer life and will suffer less illness and "man made" problems

07 May 2008 3:38 PM
Ryan Martin

I wrote a poem about Eight Belles,

here it is:

RIP- A Tribute to Eight Belles

by Ryan Martin

Tragedy struck the first Saturday in May

as people gathered for the race of the day

Twenty were gathered all in a line

as they all ran together under the sunshine

19 were boys, but there was one filly,

her name was Eight Belles. And when she ran, your spine went chilly

Although she was a filly, she ran like a colt

and as the gate opened, she broke like a bolt!

She wasn't on the lead, but she wasn't far back,

Eight Belles was waiting for the right time to attack

If all went well, she might just be

the fourth filly to win the Kentucky Derby!

At the far turn, Gabriel Saez said "Pick up your feet!"

and she ran and she ran, until could could feel the heat

But there was no way she would catch Big Brown

he was clearly the best, he had run her down

As she finished the race, something went wrong

she'd broken her ankles, and yet she stayed strong

But then came a point where she felt too much pain

so she fell to her knees and the crowd went insane!

They cried, they prayed, they wept, they gasped

and some asked others "Will Eight Belles last?"

Then came that moment where tears fell from eyes

the track vet announced "Eight Belles has been euthanized."

Now one cared that Big Brown had won

for everyone was sad because Eight Belles was done

Why did God have to take her away?

Why couldn't He have let her stay?

She was so strong and always ran great

Before she lost the Derby, she won four straight

But now she's gone, but her memories aren't

For they are still with us, deep down in our hearts

We miss you Eight Belles!

You'll always be in our hearts!

07 May 2008 3:56 PM

Godspeed Belle.....

 May you be running free in the warm sunshine and sweet green pastures.You'll be forever in my heart.....

Keeping Belle's family close in my heart and always in my prayers.....

07 May 2008 5:00 PM

There really isn't anything I can add other than RIP beautiful girl.

07 May 2008 5:36 PM
Heidi H

I would like to offer my deep condolences to all those associated with Eight Belles.  I'm a fan of the Jones' and will continue to be, it is so obvious that they love their horses very much.  I'm heartbroken that this happened to Eight Belles, and to those who loved her. I honestly don't believe for a second that it could have been prevented in her case.  I wish peace and healing for her owner and trainer as well as anyone else who knew her.  She was a champion and will never be forgotten.

07 May 2008 5:43 PM
Beverley C.

I speak from experience, from losing a very promising animal too young and too soon.It'll hurt for a long time, but time will heal the pain and there will come a time when you, Rick, Larry, Cindy and the entire barn family, will be able to look back on their time with Eight Belles and smile, remembering some goofy face she may have made, or something she did that made them smile and laugh, and just the fact that she was what she was...a lovely lady.We're all giving you cyber hugs and lots of love are directed towards you all in this time of loss.

07 May 2008 6:16 PM
Kristi W.

Since this is a Rememberence Wall, this is not the place to mull over the sport.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the connections of Eight Belles.  For the short time I've seen her race, I felt honored to see such a beautiful filly race in the Kentucky Derby.  She was like a supermodel at a frat party.  It was very touching how Larry Jones called her, "sweetheart".  She seemed as sweet as she was intelligent.  Like many I've realized how short life really is.  We miss Eight Belles now and forever.    

07 May 2008 6:41 PM

Sweet Eight Belles, I picked you to win in the Derby.  You gave it your all and now you are gone.  Such a sad ending to a beautiful Princess.  You will always be remembered just like our Barbaro.  May you both run together now in the heavens up above.  RIP dear one!

07 May 2008 7:36 PM

Eight Belles you are the Finest Filly i have ever seen. Nor will i see another like you in my lifetime.

You are the star.

You won my heart.

I will never forget you

Eight Belles... in peace sweet filly

07 May 2008 9:26 PM
Mike from Ossineke, Michigan

I am going to email Churchill Downs with an idea I have to honor Eight Belles.  They should dedicate a trackside bell with Eight Belles name on it and every year before the call to post of the Kentucky Derby, there should be a moment of silence to honor Eight Belles and toll the bell eight times.  The least we could do for her, since she died at the Derby.  Rest in peace Lady Belle.

07 May 2008 10:04 PM

Eight Belles' maturation at age three was truly amazing.  Her Derby run should be viewed as the culmination of a memorable campaign, finishing second behind a possible superstar of the sport.  

The lasting memory: the gun-metal gray filly moving into second place courageously around the turn, shifting down to the rail, and finishing gamely refusing to allow Denis of Cork to close ground.  An outstanding effort by an outstanding filly.

07 May 2008 11:07 PM

Eight Belles you were loved by so many and with us for such a short time.Let's celebrate you and what you accomplished.I will never forget you and you are in my heart forever.These situations are difficult to understand, but I know something good will come out of it.Take care of yourself, Beautiful Eight Belles.

07 May 2008 11:22 PM
Mike P.

Everyone would like to know how to prevent this type of accident from happening.  Of all people the trainer and owner would have never took a shot with Eight Belles if they thought there was ANY problem. Larry above all would never have done anything to hurt this filly!  These horses become family to Larry and Cindy and right now they are suffering and wondering themselves why it happened.  

07 May 2008 11:47 PM

Eight Belles,

You were so beautiful and I am very proud of your magnificent accomplishments.  I know that you are in Heaven enjoying your roses. You'll never be forgotten.

07 May 2008 11:52 PM

My thoughts and prayers go out to the connections of Eight Belles.  She was a beautiful, spectacular filly that showed us all her incredible talent, heart, and courage in the Derby.  She is mourned and she will be greatly missed by many.  Godspeed, Eight Belles.    

07 May 2008 11:56 PM
I Miss you

To Eight The Beautyful Filly I Will Miss SO!! Much You Have Touched My Hart So Dearly I love YOU! BELLE Rest in Peace

08 May 2008 12:06 AM
Sharon and Bob from Massachusetts

We offer our heartfelt condolences to all involved with Eight Belles.

May she RIP. She was beautiful.  She deserved her chance to run with the colts, and we feel she proved how good she was. It's no fault of anyone's that the tragedy happened, unfortunately it does. Having been a longtime racing fan, and also a horse owner I know the heartache of loss. May you all remember Eight Belles as the Champion she was!! Gabriel, Larry, Mr. Porter , remember that you gave her your best as well as she gave you hers.

Our prayers go out to all.

08 May 2008 12:19 AM

I feel certain that Frank Whitley died the day before the Derby so he could go and tell Ruffian her twin was coming, and that he is caring for them now on the other side of the rainbow bridge. I thought something was ironic about the timing of his death on May 2 when I read it, I just did not know what. Now we know. My heartfelt sympathies to Larry and Cindy Jones, et al. I cry daily about Eight Belles and I never actually met her. I can't imagine what they are all going through. Ignore those PETA people. I hope the fans will just walk thru them at the Preakness and just not even acknowledge they are there. Just act like they are invisible. Don't give them the time of day or any recognition whatsoever, not even negative feedback. Keep training Mr. Jones, we need more like you who really care.

08 May 2008 5:25 AM

Thank you for sharing your beauty, courage and spirit with us- you have set an example that is an inspiration to us all.  I know that you are cavorting and running and playing now not just with the other courageous girls like Ruffian and Pine Island and Go for Wand but also with Man O' War and Seabiscuit & Barbaro etc.  I will never forget you. I am humbled in the presence of all of yall's royalty and greatness. Thank you again and love always!

08 May 2008 7:35 AM
Steve D

Probably one of the saddest races I've ever seen. You couldn't help watching her run and grow emotionally attached. In an act of grace in sparing Frank Whitely Jr. the possible flashback of the breakdown of Ruffian, he passed away the day before Eight Belles unfortunate death. Unfortunate for the people tied to Eight Belles and unfortunate for those of us who love horses and wish things like this never happened.

08 May 2008 7:50 AM
Diane G.

My heart goes out to all of the fine people associated with Eight Belles, I know exactly the heart ache you are feeling.  We do everything we can do to ensure that our horses are ready for each race and contrary to all the people that think every horse that races is drugged up to be a monster on the track, most of us would never give our horses illegal substances.  These animals are our income yes, but foremost they are our families, we do what we do because we love the animal.  I grew up with pleasure horses and found a job doing what I love with racehorses and that will never change.  These animals are cared for better than kings and queens in most stables.  We are all getting tired of being tarred with the same brush.  With every business there are bad business men and unfortunately the horse business is no different but in the horse business the public seems to think that everyone is bad and that just isn't so.  They should come out to the track when they have an open house and go down to the stables and actually see how these animals are treated.  I should be so lucky to have someone treat me the way I treat my horses, and every other trainer that I know treats their's the same.  Eight Belles will never be forgotten and her owners, trainer and groom will have a very large hole in their lives now.  Groups like PETA need to get all of the facts and do legitimate research before running off to the press with their latest "outrage".

08 May 2008 9:14 AM

My heart goes out to all the connections of Eight Belles. She went out in a blaze of glory and will forever be a champion in my eyes. I was so happy to see her race and beat all those other colts. She ran her heart out for us.

Peta is wrong to blame anyone in this matter. They just want to get attention. They are a very ignorant group of attention mongers. Maybe we can all do something for Belles and support racing at the tracks when Peta plans to protest. Everyone should come out in support of the racing industry.

08 May 2008 9:16 AM

Eight Belles had heart and courage and even though I never had the privilege of seeing you in person or touching you to congratulate you on your other wins I considered you my friend and I know in my heart your running free from all pain in the most beautiful fields in the heavens and will be loved forever in my heart.

08 May 2008 10:13 AM
Susan A.

I can only hope that something good comes out of this terrible tragedy-something for the sake of the horse. To Eight Belles, I'm so sorry your beautiful life ended so suddenly, but glad you are not suffering, won't ever forget you!

08 May 2008 10:41 AM

Eight Belles, a courageous warrior who can aptly be described as Valiant!!  I know after she crossed the finish line and entered another realm, she was greeted by another courageous filly in heaven, Ruffian.  I think Ruffian will look after her where both will run free forever.

08 May 2008 10:43 AM

She was a bright shining star in a sea of fans. The entire racing world mourns the loss of this brilliant horse Eight Belles and we will all miss her very much!

May the racing industry "get" that this is just "one too many" for most of us, and there needs to be some reform, somewhere, . . . to make this a safer sport. Maybe starting the horses at 3 YO insteadof 2 YO would be a good place to start.  

Would we do nothing if it were jockey's killed so regularly as these beautiful horses are? I THINK NOT! We'd do something!! Right? Well treat it like it were people!! These horses give and give, we're not giving back enough! A better life after racing would be another plus that would go a long way with the public!!

Condolences go out to all of her connections, may they go on to race on safer surfaces tomorrow!

Run Free in Clouds, Eight Belles . . .

08 May 2008 12:23 PM
Bob Q

I have been a horse fan all of my life.  I have rarely missed a Crown Race.  I have owned thoroughbred horses all of my life.  My passion has been race horse rescue.  

For all of those that don't believe these horses love what they do, they need simply to watch a "retired" race horse in an open, flat field.  Their passion for running is amazing.  It never leaves them.  I care for a Cal-bred 23 year old who's name is Stylish Winner.  He still has the passion and arrogance of a Champion.  He looks at you like "do you know who I am"?  It is what they are born, breed and passionate about.  

Eight Belles loved what she was doing.  If she didn't, she wouldn't of been a winner.  You can't make a horse who doesn't love to run, run.  They simply won't.  When they love to run, as did Eight Belles, they give 150% percent sometimes to their own determent.  My heart breaks for her connections and her.  I do find comfort in knowing she died doing what she loved to, run, run.  We should all be so lucky to find such passion in our lives.  RIP beautiful girl, rest in are amazing and made a large statement in your short time on earth!!  

08 May 2008 12:29 PM
Pam S.

So, so sad.  Because she was the only "girl" on the field, my whole living room crowd was cheering for her.  We were thrilled to see her come in second place and then were horrified at what followed.  Such a metaphor for life, though.  A girl if a field full of boys, and although she was second best, it cost her everything.  Gives us something to think about.

08 May 2008 1:23 PM

With a broken heart I wish you GodSpeed, Eight Belles.  Thank you for gracing us with your beauty and true determination. Such pure unadultarated innocence and honesty. We mere mortals can only hope to be a small fraction of what you were in such a very short time. Heartfelt sympathy to all your Connections.  You ran the "Good Race" now rest in peace, sweet,sweet girl.

08 May 2008 2:15 PM

I was going to wait to post a comment but I decided to just let the words flow.  I have watched that race over and over.  On the final turn, Eight Belles pulled her head up and started to slow down a bit.  In my opinion, she hurt one of her legs at that time and jolted.  Go and watch the race.  Look at her on that turn.  Then of course she was hit with the bat to the finish.  I don't think that this was a freak accident.  I feel that she hurt herself on the final turn and of course this was the Kentucky Derby and the money was too high so rather that pull her up, let her keep on going.  All one has to do is watch the replays.  Pictures don't lie.  Watch her throw her head up and slow down on a ever so slight stumble.  OK now for Eight Belles.  I know that what I said cannot bring you back sweet girl but I really hope to God that this wakes up the industry in a big way.  These are only 3 year olds running their hearts out.  Less breakdowns in other countries.  Why?  Because they don't run them as young and they run them on the turf.  What is happening in this country?  Is the greed for speed with breed that important?  There were 18 colts in the winners circle with Big Brown on the first Saturday in May.  Eight Belles did not come in second.  She was the only one that lost.  I am sorry but I love horses and I hate seeing this.  My heartach is still very much in me and very much alive.  I still have tears for Barbaro, Pine Island, Mending Fences, Goerge Washington, my God do I need to continue?  

Please we must start thinking about making some serious changes.  

08 May 2008 2:16 PM

Thank you, Eight Belles, for allowing so many of us to witness greatness. RIP beautiful girl.

08 May 2008 2:19 PM

I blame the media for the major outcry from the public. These racehorses are taken care of better than most animals. Why did the TV outlets show the filly when she was down? We do not show humans on TV who are in a death risk situation. Horses should be treated the same. Lets stop showing the filly breaking down on TV. This does not help future breakdowns. The industry is already concerned with injuries in racehorses, as just a few days prior to the Derby, there were seminars discussing the future of the racehorse, in Lexington. Why weren't there any TV media there showing the industries concerns? These horses are our children. We are not greedy for money. You have to HAVE money to be in the business. A few percentage of people actually make money in the business! They are the lucky ones. I hope that more horseman become interested in the seminars that different organizations have been having.  They will become more educated in the horse, today.

08 May 2008 2:22 PM
Sandi B

Essentially I feel the same as everyone else who has commented.  Today's race horse is so much more fragile than the horses of the past.  Why?  I'm not really sure other than I too feel that they are too young when they start training and racing.  I have one horse, who was bred to race and did race as a two and three year old.  He was lucky I guess.  He could have experienced a breakdown too, being as he too gives his all for me.  I don't know what I'd do if I were responsible for him sustaining a fatal, or even crippling injury.  I would truly feel that I betrayed his trust if I ever put him in such a situation.

08 May 2008 2:25 PM

I taped the race and watched it later, rooting for Eight Belles.  I cheered when she came in second. Then I saw that she had fallen and had to be euthanized. I sobbed for 5 minutes when I heard this. All I could think of is her running her heart out, then being injured.  It saddens me that race horses are treated this way. They're overbred and too heavy for racing at that young age. The only consolation is that she was euthanized immediately so she didn't suffer long.  

08 May 2008 2:35 PM

Eight Belles, Ruffian, Go For Wand,

Pine Island, Barbaro

What a magnificent group is now runing freely across the Rainbow Bridge.

You were all magnificent and gave your all to your profession.

08 May 2008 2:35 PM
Janet Metz

Nothing, including the Triple Crown is worth the death of that beautiful filly.  I cry for her.  She was a baby.  I will never watch another race.

08 May 2008 2:44 PM
Arlene from Maryland

Eight Belles is a tribute to her bloodlines.  She fought hard against all the boys and almost won one of the most difficult races a filly can.  It shows how the instinct to go faster and faster can sometimes overload their physical body.  My only negative is that horses should not be raced at all until they are 3 year olds and more fully mature.

The groups that are banding against the jockey and trainer should concentrate their efforts on helping horses that have been neglected.

08 May 2008 2:53 PM
Annie Lambert, Editor

Horsemen surely realize that Eight Belles crossed under the wire with her ears perked, surely not showing signs of distress. Too bad the humane-iacs in PETA know nothing of what they speak. Thoroughbreds are athletes and unfortunately incure injuries much like NFL and NBA and NHL players do. I hope common sense prevails and officials and others don't cave into those who should be helping abused and abandoned animals instead of seeking the national spotlight for their own glory. Seeking to help dogs, cats and livestock live better lives doesn't satisfy their needs for attention as does attacking legitimate sports/entertainment like, rodeo, circus and racing!

08 May 2008 2:54 PM

We at The Whiffle Tree NYC blog extend our sympathy and prayers to the jockey, trainers, owners, and all who worked with and loved Eight Belles.

Horse people love their horses. It doesn't matter the capacity - from trail riding to barrel racing to jumping to the circus to racing to carriage driving - any horse person feels the loss of a beloved horse deeply. It's maddening and outrageous that people choose this sad time to malign and rail against the very people who lost the most. The blogs are abuzz with calls for everything from suspending the jockey to outlawing horse racing. Cynical sneers and accusations of greed and mishandling abound as these ghouls exploit the death for their own ends.

The fact is, Eight Belles would never have even been born if it weren't for horse racing - she was born and bred to do just that. So the argument is pared down very quickly to an almost existential philosophical question: is it better to be born, live a good life with risks while delighting people - or never to have been born at all? We think the answer is clearly the former.

ALL equine pursuits have inherent risks, as do most pursuits in life generally; eliminate anything with risk, and there would be very little left.

Here's to you, Eight Belles, you were all heart.

08 May 2008 3:07 PM
Pamela P

The racing industry has to change. The general public has become more "animal centric". We care about the treatment of sporting horses. I love the racing and most horse sports. They really do need to let those "babies" grow up at least a year more before starting hard competition.  It was a bittersweet day for all of us who watched the derby.

08 May 2008 3:12 PM

Eight Belles, it was an honor to watch you run. Being able to run with the boys only highlighted your talent and skill!!!

Tragedy, YES!!! Calling for the ban of horse racing, NO!!! I agree that I would like to see 2 year old racing limited or banned to give them time to grow.  Eliminating the industry will hurt many, many, many people!!!

I own an Off-Track Thoroughbred and it takes all I can do to keep her from running too much! They are magnificent and wonderful animals.  

08 May 2008 3:23 PM
Liz Turner

I have been a fan of racing for many years...These horses have such heart, and in this case you could see the will to win as Eight Bells crossed the finish line ears back and trying to finish strong.  You could also see her pegging on her front legs and even before she went down I knew all was not well.

I don't think the blame belongs on the jockey or the owner or the trainer.  They were doing what the industry accepts.  I do think that its time to protect these powerful athletes with sports medicine boots like all other high impact sports for horses.  Reiners, eventers and barrel horses all wear boots.  I compete in some of those events and know that it makes a very big difference.  Instead of disasters, we would hope to at least end up with injurys not so life threatening. I think the industry needs to join the modern world and promote protection for our super stars like Eight Bells who should of been preparing for her next race instead of being buried.

Of course theres other issues like how young we push them, same issues in reining, and yes I do think that we start to young and too many are crippled and never reach their potential.  some thought should be given to starting later.

I wish to finally say that I extend my deepest sympathy to all those surrounding Eight Belles, I know what a terrible loss it is and how deep it must hurt.  

08 May 2008 3:24 PM
Susan King

"Going out in Glory" is hardly the way to sum up Eight Belles short life after breaking both front legs. "Second Place at the 134th Kentucky Derby" is how I would like to remember her, but no, it will be her beautiful pewter color, breaking down, her broken ankles and finally, lifting her head up and looking around, just before being put down. I grew up around race horses as my grandparents were breeders in upstate New York.  Imagine my sickness when a colt out of Native Dancer had to be euthanized because he slipped on some ice coming back to the barn after being let out for a short time.  I quit watching racing after the Ruffian incident, it still makes me sick to think about it.  I came back to watching 2 years ago. Now I don't know if I can watch another race live or on T.V. again.  I grew up riding and showing quarter horses in "timed events" like poles and barrels.  In the 60's and 70's we never had any injuries that amounted to euthanasia-ever.  My mother said they used to "fire up" the horses, i.e. give them injections to build up their muscles, I don't know if this is still a practice today while horses are in training and frankly don't want to know.  But to me it seems that Eight Belles stopped suddenly as if she was directed to do so, thus forcing her weight to shift to the front legs.  I don't believe she was allowed to gallop out at her own speed.  I guess no one will ever really know what happened except that big beautiful gray girl is gone and will be in our hearts and memories forever.

08 May 2008 3:25 PM
Lynn Brown

What a wonderful filly, what heart.  She stood for everything that her breed represents and yet in many ways, that was her downfall...

I've watched horse racing since I was young, not an obsessive fan, just someone who has horses, loves horses, and thinks there's nothing quite as beautiful as an equine in motion.

I feel that the racing industry rules (AND the QH industry, cutting and reining horses) need to be changed to protect these animals better.  Many horses are injured and die at a young age because they're put into training too young, and raced, too hard, too fast and too long before bones, muscles, ligaments, etc. are fully developed.  Maybe something that disallows them to race until a later age, and not be ridden until a later age (like three years for a rider) would help.

Another issue is that the breeders need to re-examine what they're breeding for.  Huge horses with fine bone are a disaster waiting to happen, especially when coupled with being trained and raced before maturity.

I don't think it will ever happen, but I do think it would be in the best interests of the horses as well as the industry, when you have lunatics like PETA around looking for excuses to eliminate all domestic animals from our lives.

Hugs to her breeder, owner, trainer and all else who loved this filly, she had such a kind eye and a big heart, I know this loss must be devastating to all of you.

Lynn Brown

Long Beach, CA

08 May 2008 3:27 PM

There was a few times during the race when she looked to the right and slowed.  At the last turn, she really turned to the right, I remember saying why does she keep doing that, it was like she was trying to get to the outside.  God gave horses a strong loving heart that gives us everything, it's our job not to ask for everything.  She ran hurt and she gave everything.  When you ride you feel everything, I don't know how the jockey didn't know.  

08 May 2008 3:36 PM
Mary H

I was rooting for Eight Belles and thought for a moment she would win the race.  I was heart broken to hear of her injuries and death.  I personally feel the horses are being raced much too young.  There is just too much stress being placed on their growing bones.  All races should be changed so that no horse starts it's racing career before the age of three.

08 May 2008 3:48 PM

Sorry for the tragic loss of a great filly. It is always a thrill to see a filly beat the boys. My sympathy to all of her connections. It is a sad day.

08 May 2008 3:50 PM
susan McKelvey

I watched Ruffian break down. She died on my birthday. I told everyone to not discount the filly this year. I lost a filly named Bella just 4 weeks ago to a broken leg at a breeding farm, a freak accident. When I saw Eight Belles down I hoped for the best, prepared for the worst, but the worst was far worst than i imagined. i'm glad she didn't suffer. She is forever now a part of Churchill downs. Her blood a part of the track. Let us hope her spirit will protect the others who race on in her shadow.

08 May 2008 4:07 PM

"It wouldn't hurt so bad if it wasn't so perfect before."  I can think of no better statement than that to describe how I feel about the gallant filly, Eight Belles.  Hopefully, we can remember her final moments, as the stretch run of the Derby, where she kicked serious colt hindquarter.  Go, girl, go.  I'll never forget you.

08 May 2008 4:11 PM

Tragic loss and my heart goes out to the connections; however,I'm not at all pleased to see the many uniformed outcries from organizations like PETA.

There are problems within horseracing, same as many animal industries - namely overbreeding and drug abuse.

We've raced fillies and colts as young as they do now for years and in the past not seen nearly the number of breakdowns we currently do. So I don't buy the arguement that they are too young.

Additionally, most of the 2 and 3 yos of today carry much less weight than they did years ago. Remember, the great filly Regret, first filly to win the Roses? She was carrying 127 pounds in races as a 2 yo.

There are simply too many horses being bred in the industry and it's killing off the industry as a whole.

08 May 2008 4:21 PM
Melissa Kubecki

When all is said and done as with a young person collapsing and dying from heart failure on a high school field/court the comments from well meaning people without proper medical knowledge is reported 24/7 and is cycled for days in the news.  This does not make their information accurate by it being in the news.  As a horse owner this is a reality check but it is also a call to educate the public that PETA is wrong.  Step back take a moment, take away your emotion and think with intellect only.  In eveyone's life human or animal be accident or long life there comes a situation where something serious/should not happen to the good ones is reality.  Our culture hates it. It tries to find something/someone to blame it on as a nurse I have seen and experienced my share.

Eight Belles I would have been loved to have been PRIVILEGED to own one of your offspring. To the owner, trainer, groom, jockey and their families I am truly sorry for your lose of this wonderful filly. I and my family will miss her glorious running.

08 May 2008 4:48 PM
Andrea W

Peta needs to stop looking at people to blame.  Yes, this is tragic, I have had my eye on Eight Belles through out her career, but this is part of being an athlete.  I believe these horses run because they love it, the ones who don't enjoy it don't make it as race horses.  Eight Belles was an amazing athlete, sadly just like human athletes, injuries happen.  If we think of horse racing on human terms, look at marathon or track runners, they breakdown too.  Lets compare the rate that humans breakdown to the rate that thoroughbreds do, I am willing to say we are more concerned for the thoroughbreds welbeing than our own.  I think we do a damn good job of taking care of our racehorses, yea there is some bad in every good, but I don't think neglect was the case here.  She was an amazing filly, and a life cut too short, she will be imortalized as the girl who beat the boys!!

08 May 2008 4:55 PM

Yes, heartbroken!  Brings back memories of the beautiful, black, big & big-hearted Ruffian.  Two, who were sisters-in-heart. What was to be, yet never was--- What dams they could have been, and on this Mother's Day week, I cannot stop thinking of them with tears--

08 May 2008 4:59 PM

With thundering power they came down the stretch, only two horses in the Race Eight Belles and Big Brown.  While Eight Belles was the better of all the rest, clearly Big Brown was the standout.  

The end came and Big Brown was the winner.  The biggest loser of all was the Fans.  They will never again see this great Filly Run, never see her come past at thundering speed and dominance.  Unfortunately it would appear the death of Eight Belles was just what   Animal Rights Radicals needed to spark outrage. 

08 May 2008 5:01 PM
Kentuckian Forever Changed

My husband and I have lived in Louisville our entire lives and we have watched and celebrated the Kentucky Derby for as long as we both can remember. We thought we had recovered from the Barbaro tragedy until we watched the Derby.  I will never forget seeing Eight Belles lying on the track and the feeling of immediate sadness that overtook us both.  I can't imagine how sad the owners, trainer, and jockey must feel and all of the questions they must have like,"what if we had just done this or that differently."  At least I hope their consciences are such that they are asking themselves these tough questions.  We all know horse racing will continue across the country and the Derby will run again. No one in the horse racing industry will  care that while the Derby goes on, this Kentuckian won't be watching...ever again.                    

08 May 2008 5:18 PM
elayne emard

just like everybody who cheered her on,i was shocked when the tragedy struck eight belles.i don't believe everyone should get all excited about this and focus only on the racing industry.many horses suffer irreparable fractures in all kinds of ways.jumpers,barrel racing,to name a few.we just put done a beautiful yearling.she playfully reared and spun like a top and absolutety shattered her left hind cannon doesn't get any worse than that!she was not pushed by anyone to do what she did.horses are fragile by nature and i am sure that any trainer puts all his(her)expertise in keeping the horse in their care as safe and happy as horse will want to race if he is not fit enough.and please,for those if you that are "against"this and that.make sure that you have all the facts and also realize that it is the racing industry that has brought most research dollars that we take for granted "ie"ulcer meds,wormers,vaccines...

08 May 2008 5:28 PM
Thea Wilcox

I am saddened and confused by the tragic accident that ended the life of this heroic filly. I myself have three sporthorses and they too endure considerable impact to their legs. Still I just can not comprehend what happened to Eight Belles. Did her ankles break when she was running? Did they break from the inpact as she slowed her pace? Was the turf at the Derby just too hard? Was this filly just not physically developed enough? Whatever the reason for this sad event it certainly darkened the spirit of the Derby. Let's look at what we are doing to "our" horses in these strenuous competations, especially in light of the fact that only a week before, at the Rolex, two horses were euthanized as a result of their injuries.

08 May 2008 5:41 PM
Sandie Gehri-Bergman

Beautiful, magnificent filly. Tragic, senseless loss. I will never again watch a horse race or go to the track. I am finished, and sadly, so is Eight Belles and far too many other horses who have met the same fate, giving their all because we ask--no, demand--them to.

While I am not jumping on any bandwagon demanding the racing industry be put out of business, I do believe that changes must be made, and quickly, so that every thing possible be done to ensure the safety and welfare of the very animals that allow this industry to exist in the first place. If something is not done very soon, I can only think that horse racing will bring about its own demise. I, personally, don't know too many people who consider watching a beautiful animal horrifically breakdown and then having to be destroyed a nice way to spend the day.

08 May 2008 5:48 PM
gigi nutter

My heart goes out for Eight Belles and all the rest.  The rest of the noble horses that we not able to walk off the track.  We breed their hearts but it is TIME to think about their young bodies.

I sincerely hope that the racing age will change for the good of the horse, very soon.  

08 May 2008 6:00 PM

The real and only problem that happened here is that the connections knew she was good enough to compete with the boys: however, look at the number of races and purses, grade races she ran as opposed to the money grades of the boys.  Fillies don't make the moneies the boys do.  If she could have gone after the pruse of 2,000,000 by running with the girls that  is where she would have been.  The race shows her distress of overextending to compete with them.  Look at the lugging in at the mile badly lugged in and galloping race horses don't look at the crowd.  Another thing whipping was done to keep her off the rail as trainer said.  They loved her dearly.  It is the money issue of racing discrimination directed toward fillies.  The Oaks only paid a 500,000 purse.  May condition books show a gr III for boys 350000, for girls 175,000--same conditions.  Give the fillies a decent chance and not have to compete with tetestrone strong bones and muscles to make the money and prestege as the boys get.

Another issue is the immature bones being stressed.  EB ran 9 races and Big Brown only 3.  duhhh.

Stop this from happening again by being objective and make it fair for all the horses and owners, trainers.  No one intentionally hurt this animal it is just the way the races are made up and ran.

Change the structure of that and you will see less of this happening.

Condolensces to EB connections and for goodness sakes she earned that second place finish in history--she ran even in pain and had more heart than anyone there--glorify her efforts.  

08 May 2008 6:36 PM
Peg French

To Eight Belles: You had a champion's heart. Rest in Peace girl!

08 May 2008 6:45 PM
Pam W.

In Loving memory of a beautiful horse named Eight belles.You were so happy just to run and race like the wind and then your life was cut to short when you fell and broke both your ankles,I only hope you weren't in any pain for long before they set your soul free!May you be happy and run free across the Rainbow Bridge with Barbaro,Ruffian,and all the other horses in heaven.The day you left this precios earth the horse angels came and lifted you up so you could rest your legs for the journey. Rest in Peace Sweet Angel! Your courage, beauty and spirit will live on in all of us. We Love you and Miss You! Sweet Dreams dear Angel!!

08 May 2008 7:12 PM
Amy J.

Any and all horses that have lost their life in this way is tragic, not just the famous ones. I agree with Eight Belles owner stating that if the technology would have been available to check horses legs for these potential problems, he wouldn't have let her race. Where is that technology? Why is it all the trainers/owners fault? Everyone is at fault by a thin slice. Eight Belles gave her life for something that she enjoyed doing! Why hasn't everyone taken that into account? Barbaro was hurt doing what he loved too! Next thing we know they will be outlawing the Olympics too because people get hurt there too. I don't think that everyone who is being to darn critical of this and all sports have seen the big picture. This is what they were bred to do. If they can't do this then what are they good for?

Eight Belles was a great horse that tried her very best to keep up with the boys. She gave all her heart and it was obvious that she had the mind to do what she had planned. Lets all not disgrace her name and memory with all this hullabaloo that PETA is trying to cause and let her memory and spirit rest in peace over the Rainbow Bridge. She deserves that.

08 May 2008 7:27 PM
Diane in Maine

I am rewriting after reading all these comments about racing and Eight Belles.  It has been several days of reflecting on the experience of losing Eight Elles.  I am amazed at how many people care so profoundly about these accidents, and for those of us who have followed the sport for so long that we remember Ruffian, Go for Wand, Pine Island, Barbaro, George Washington and many more.  I will continue to watch horse racing, but I hope that all of you will continue to press the owners, breeders, trainers, etc. to answers to the questions of age, breeding, retirement and the general health of the racing industry.  Write, continue to care and we can improve the life of the race horse and hopefully keep these injuries to an absolute minimun.

On a personal note--I was a complete fan of Hard Spun and what he accomplished last year.  I thought that based on his race record and durability he should have been Horse of the Year.  I am looking forward to seeing what his youngsters do on the race track.  That is the joy of horse racing.  I also want to say that in no way should the jockey, trainer, or owner be questioned in their absolute devotion to their horse.  No one who knows racing thinks a trainer, jockey or owner sacrifices their prized horse for a race.  That is not the relationship between horse, owner, trainer and rider.  If the jockey felt anything wrong he would have pulled up.  I have done that with horses.  We feel when something is wrong.  There is no relationship which can be compared to that of owner, trainer, jockey and their horse.  It transcends marriage in its intimacy.  Let us honor it and work to make the racing industry as good and gorgeous as it can be.  There is nothing that compares to a beautiful horse doing what they do that no other creature on earth can do-take your heart away. I know that one day I will meet Ruffian, Barbars, Go for Wand, George Washington, Pine Island and many others on the other side.  Let us try to make thoroughbred racing better and worthy of these champions.

08 May 2008 7:47 PM

She was big and looked almost black in her photos.  I'm so glad I have that gorgeous two page photo from the May 3rd Blood Horse to remember her by.  She ran with joy and abandon.  Maybe all those things are what caused me to think of Ruffian.  And now they can run together.  All my sympathy to her connections and to all who loved her.  Rest in peace, Eight Belles.  

08 May 2008 8:13 PM
Felice Vincelette

It is truly sad that Eight Belles is dead. I find it hard thought to listen to the folks when they say she ran the race of her life. All I see is a fabulous, well bred young horse that dead. I share this quote from Henry Beston.

         " We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

I am an equine therapist. I have spent the past 30 years healing horses and helping people learn how to keep sound horses sound. There is no excuse for this kind of indifference in the 21st century. The racing industry needs to take a long hard look at itself.

08 May 2008 8:29 PM
J. L. Hills

I don't know anything about horses. There is just something about the Triple Crown races that draws me to the TV each year.  I look forward each year to those special chances to watch one of God's most perfect athletes.  My favorite Derby early on was 1980, when Genuine Risk, another filly, became only the 2nd to win the Kentucky Derby.  I got the same sense of joy and excitement watching Barbaro.  This didn't seem like much of a Derby this year until I had a chance to see and hear about Eight Belles.  Seeing another filly take on the boys-  beating 18 of them was a thing of beauty.  I spoke to her right through the TV.  I told what a great race she had run as she was coming down the stretch.  It was pretty clear she wouldn't win.  But what a great race.  Saw a horse down on the track.  Couldn't believe it was Belle.  God's magnificent athlete had given just a little more than she had to give.  No one will ever come up with an explanation.  No fault will ever be found (except maybe in the mind of PETA).  Guess there is just a price for the enjoyment we get from just watching these athletes race.  So Belle, you caught my eye.  You were a big, beautiful, joyous, inspiring, courageous competitor.  You put your all on the line and paid the ultimate price.  I do hope your final resting place is right along side another member of America's Horses- Barbaro.  I hope your remains will lie at the site of your most courageous race, Churchill Downs.  To see you was to love you and care for and about you.  You are gone now.  Grieving is hard.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  In those few hours, and the days following, I had that chance to see a "Once in a Lifetime".  And while your story has one of the saddest, most tragic endings of any I have ever heard, millions had the chance to see you in all your glory.  Rest in Peace Belle.  I hope you join Barbaro and Ruffian, running with Our Father God in Fields of Green.

And to all of Belle Connections- Well done.  She was a thing of beauty doing was she loved to do.  Thanks for sharing her with us.

08 May 2008 9:19 PM
Becky Rose

At the start of any race I am watching, I always pray that no horse will get injured, but my prayers weren't answered on Derby day.  What a tragedy to see Eight Belles go down and to learn of her fate. I witnessed Frodo Baggins fall and suffer a life-ending injury just one week before at the Ky. Rolex.  Though my love of horses is strong, to see them injured and put down is almost too much to bear.  I will remember these two champions forever.  

08 May 2008 9:44 PM

Our sympathies to her human family on the loss of this great filly.

08 May 2008 10:05 PM
Viki Worden

I was watching the derby on TV and couldn't believe it when I heard Eight Belles had gone down.  It brought back memories of Pine Island when I heard they had to euthanize her.  She will forever live in my heart along with all the other racehorses that have passed.  "Eight Belles Is a True Champion".  You will never be forgotten.  May your life in heaven be filled with races now without the worries of getting injured.  Eight Bells ring for you now and forever.

08 May 2008 10:12 PM
Vicki W.

I cried when Barbero was put down after going through all that suffering.  I cried again after watching the horror unfold, after this  filly, who gave her everything was euthanized on the track.  I agree with one of the blogs before mine, that these horses aren't fully developed and should not be raced this young.  Give them time to fully grow and develop strong, solid bones.  Eight Belles ran an amazing race!  She was the true winner.  

08 May 2008 10:21 PM

Like everyone here, I love horses and was the lucky owner of a pleasure Thoroughbred for many years.

My only comment about Eight Bells and other horses that have broken down racing is that the horses are raced way too young.

Why can't people wait until they have matured before subjecting those frail legs to the pounding on the track?

08 May 2008 11:33 PM

We met you and fell in love with you, awed by your power and determination, and lost you, all in the space of an hour.

A man said, of watching Secretariat's Belmont, "I...watched this live on tv with about four other guys. The collective knowledge we had about horses wouldn't cover the face of a dime. For about a minute after the race nobody said a word, and then finally one guy volunteered "holy s**t". I was speechless, all choked up, and had tears in my eyes. To this day I have never seen a more magnificent performance by anything living. It was just incredible." Goodbye 'Belles.

08 May 2008 11:38 PM
Barbara C.

Many people have added comments about horse racing remembering  the days of tragedies.  We don't have to "know" the people or the horses who have met with tragedy (in any equine sport) to share in the tremendous grief of loss.  It is my belief that no one can second guess reasons "why" our wonderful equine friends are taken from us so suddenly.  It is a very very sad loss for all those who knew the beautiful filly and those who just love horses for the spectacular beings they are.  My sincere and heartfelt thoughts go out to the owners, handlers and admirers of Eight Belles.  She left this world doing what she loved to do... run, and she is running in greener pastures now along side all the wonderful equine friends/family we have all lost and dearly miss.

09 May 2008 12:02 AM

Such a beautiful filly. Why is the money so important that they run horses that are too young. The bodies of 5 yr olds are much stronger. If they waited for them to grow up to race them there might be fewer injuries. There must be a safer way to continue the sport so people can still enjoy it. I also think they should ring 8 bells for Eight Bells at the next derby.

09 May 2008 12:48 AM
Kendra K

I have always been a big fan of racing and hate to see when these things happen.  The only question that comes to my mind when I think about racing is why do we race horses when they are only 2 or 3 years old and still developing.  A horse is not in it's physical prime until 6 or 7 years old so why not wait until then when their bodies can handle the stress more?  Horses cannot compete internationally or in the Olympics until they are physically older, so why don't they do they same for horse racing? Just a thought.

09 May 2008 2:30 AM

I saved a photo of my fav filly to remember Eight Belles ill miss her.

09 May 2008 2:31 AM

We've shed a river of tears already and we're not done.We are owners,trainers,grooms,race fans,we are the ones who care,who really care about more than "the almighty dollar and about more than "what have you done for me today?" We are the ones who each and every day dream of and even pray for our own "Eight Belles". How so very rarely do we see all encompassing magnificence,that one rare specimen;perfection horsonified,body,mind,heart and soul.We will remember always and shall therefore remain mindful,respectful and diligent.Thank you Eight Belles wherever you are........

09 May 2008 7:18 AM
Belle Breeze Farm

A very sad loss of a beautiful animal.  Things like this happen and I feel they did the right thing by putting her down immediately instead of prolonging her pain by trying to save her.  I truely believe that they need to stop racing these horses too young.  There is too much stress on bones that are not fused yet!  Wait until they are more mature.  Some horses keep growing until they are 7 years old!

09 May 2008 7:50 AM
Bonnie McMillan

It was heartbreaking to see Eight Belles run her heart out against the boys and have it end so tragically.  My heart goes out to all those who loved and cared for this filly.  However, we will surely continue to see tragedies like this unfold more than necessary until the horse racing industry finally chooses to evolve and put the welfare of these beautiful athletes above the almighty dollar.  Commonsense and the facts say if the industry would wait a year or two before racing the still developing babies, there would be fewer accidents like this occurring. Most of these Thoroughbreds would then also have longer careers and rosier retirements.  

09 May 2008 8:35 AM
C. Ayers

My heart goes out to all involved with this great filly who gave her all.  I can see her now in a beautiful field stretching out forever.  The grass is like nothing on earth and there are stunning flowers and magnificent trees.  Her hair is blowing in the wind and she is running free. Other magnificent horses are galloping out to greet her. Her heart is full.

09 May 2008 9:36 AM

I am a horsewoman of 30 years and have always owned Thoroughbreds off the track. THese horses are athletes just like human athletes and no matter what PETA says they love to run. HUmans have bred them to be that way and I know Peta would love to get rid of all sports with animals in them but that is not reality. If it was not for horses in sports the equine species would be null and void in this day and time. History has evolved on the backs of horses and if the animal activists were really true horsemen they would be of a different mind set. MOst of the people who work in the horse business love them with a passion that is hard for others to understand, just talk to my family who sees me slave away for pennies just to support my horses. One has to love it to devote the amount of time, energy and loss of time with family. So I ask the activists to refrain from commenting on something they really know nothing about. I would not think to judge someone else without fully understanding what I was looking perceiving. Just a little advice from someone in the horse world and a veterinary technician who sees way more abuse and neglect in peoples back yards than on the racetrack.  

09 May 2008 9:53 AM

I am deeply saddned by the loss of Eight Belles. What a beautiful girl. I own a 3 year old filly myself and couldn't imagine life with out her. I am just starting to ride her and have made leaps and bounds on the groundwork. No chain has seen the top of her nose!  I am not a huge fan of horse racing, however I know that there are good things happening at the track but I also know that there are bad things too. I look at my horses outside and under their own direction are not choosing to run laps around the paddock. They are grazing and flicking the occassional fly with their tail while enjoying each others company. We the people make horses want to run on a track, so I feel that it is our obligation to better regulate it for their safety.  You don't see a  field of male lacrosse players with only the occassional helmet on, no they all have to wear one or they don't play. Why are some horses wearing leg protection while others are not? I also feel the footing could be better. Are we feeling that dirt is the optimal surface to run on?  The next race will come and go, but we all know that it isn't about whether this will happen again, it's about when and with who?  Eight Belles, you are free of pain join your horse friends and be happy!!

09 May 2008 10:07 AM
Gina and Daisy

This year's Kentucky Derby was the first derby I ever attended. I have wanted to go since a child and I feel blessed yet saddened that for my first derby I saw greatness and sadness all in one day.  Eight Belles, what a girl!  She went down in a blaze of glory.  She basically did it – she proved to the world how great she was – in my eyes she had no more proving to do.  She gave us her heart to inspire all the women out there to never stop.  My barrel racing mare Daisy that died May 11, 2004 (and I still miss her every day) had the biggest heart and soul I thought I had ever known in a horse.  Daisy died of a large volvus torsion a few months after giving birth to her beautiful filly.  Even as we led her to surgery to try to save her she trotted in and whinnied to all the other horses I swear “never give up”.  Right before the gates opened I prayed Daisy would help Eight Belles fly that day.  I prayed Daisy would lend her additional courage and strength to show greatness.  As I watched Eight Belles race I swear I saw Daisy running right next to her encouraging her she could do it.  In the end, although I couldn’t see her, I know Daisy was there with Eight Belles leading her home to Rainbow Bridge.  Let us remember Eight Belles by remembering what she did that day, how she raced.  She gave us her heart and soul.  To focus on the negative (how truly sad it is) is not what she would want.  In a whinny I bet she’d say, “Remember how I flew that day; like I had wings, I did it.  That day 18 world class boys ate my dirt!” Thank you Eight Belles you’ll be remembered and missed forever.  

09 May 2008 10:30 AM
Debbie C.

How about a mandate for synthetic surfaces at major tracks in the USA?

09 May 2008 10:58 AM
Coco Fernandez

"God comes to earth every day and picks the most beautiful flowers for his garden in heaven; Eight Belles was the most beautiful Rose in Derby day....and she got picked."

You can beat yourself into a coma trying to figure it out and you never will.

I'm a full time Farrier( and I saw many,many breakdowns in my 26 year career. I never got use to it and never will. We all are in God's hands. It is out of our control.

09 May 2008 11:15 AM
Sundancer Farm

When you are tense, let me teach you to relax. When you are short tempered,let me teach you to be patient.When you are short sighted, let me teach you to see. When you are quick to react, let me teach you to be thoughtful.When you are angry, let me teach you to be serene. When you feel superior, let me teach you to be respectful. When you are self-absorbed, let me teach you to think of greater things.When you are arrogant, let me teach you humility. When you are lonely, let me be your companion. When you are tired, let me carry the load. When you need to learn, let me teach you.   AFTER ALL I AM YOUR HORSE

09 May 2008 11:29 AM

I'm not sure I can watch another racing tragedy again.....I remember back to Ruffian; now more recently Barbaro, and then Eight Belles.  The racing industry is going to be raked over the coals by animal rights groups, and maybe it will lead to needed changes.  I, for one, believe horses should not be raced as two year olds.  They are too physically immature.  I would rejoice in a change that would make three the minimum racing age.  Even the age of three is immature for a horse, but maybe it would give horses like Eight Belles a better chance of not having a catastrophic breakdown.

09 May 2008 11:48 AM
Viktoria Shell - California

Eight Belles was breathtakingly beautiful and she represented both her breed and her sex with the utmost of class and heart.

Eight Belles died doing what most of us would prefer to die doing--THAT WHICH WE LOVE AND ARE BORN TO DO!  

Let her death and her legacy be a testament to her heart and her talent, not a judgment of the imperfection of her body.  

Just like Barbaro, Eight Belles can teach us so very much.  Don't let the hysterical voices of a questionable animal rights group drown out what horses mean to those who truly love and honor them as the incredible creatures they are!

Soar with the angels precious Eight Belles, just as you made our hearts soar here on earth!  Rest proudly among the champions!

Viktoria Shell,

Thoroughbred owner and breeder

09 May 2008 11:50 AM
Canadian Horseman

These things happen, thats why we call them accidents.Eight Belles was a hell of a filly.

The relationship between man and beast has gone on since the beginning of time. I know that PETA would like to dampen that. PETA  in my opinion is the most ill informed group of people in North America. HAPPY TRAILS

09 May 2008 12:30 PM

"In honor of Eight Belles, consider donating to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc or another Equine Charity. Donations to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc in memory of Eight Belles go directly toward prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries"

In light of this quote, I have an idea.  Why don't all of us that made money from her race donate it.  I am talking about the purse money (Porter and Jones) and the wagering money.  Wagering alone came to almost 600 thousand.  OK?  I think that is a really good idea....:-;

09 May 2008 12:44 PM

Beautiful Animal - tragic loss!

When I was a small child I asked why we weren't allowed to ride a horse much before they were four or five.

I couldn't figure out why the Kentucky Derby horses raced at three.  

60 years later - I still don't know.

09 May 2008 1:42 PM
Walter &amp; Karen Schmiede

This filly gave her all in beating 18 colts.  She will always be remembered for her great courage and the wonderful race she ran.  She is running with the greats in equine Heaven now.                                Walter & Karen Schmiede-MI

09 May 2008 1:55 PM
Bide-a-Wee Farm, Idaho

This was a terrible tragedy - for the connections of Eight Belles, for Churchill Downs and the Derby and for a great filly.  The only thing that could have been worse was if she had won instead of being second.  That might have happened, too, if Big Brown and his jockey had not done everything right. The critics (especially that guy at Fox!) need to understand that career ending injuries occur in human sports too. Unfortunately, the nature and size of horses often make euthanasia the only option.

09 May 2008 2:31 PM
Elaine Connors

My husband atended the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland.  While he was there he, like a lot of people, decided to try and get a picture of Curlin.  While looking in the stable area he saw a girl that worked with the horses and asked her where he might find Curlin's stable area.  She rolled her eyes and told him she wanted to show him some other really special horses instead.  She walked him over to the stable area of Eight Belles and Proud Spell.  While she was telling him about the fillies he got to feed Eight Belles carrots and he called me to tell me about it while he was still feeding her.  He said Eight Belles was trying all the time he was feeding her to also get in his pockets and find any peppermints or sweets he might have had.  He left totally in love with both fillies.  What tremendous excitement we experienced on Derby day when Eight Belles ran the most beautiful race!  When she had to be put down due to her injuries, both of us were so saddened.  Our hearts go out to Larry Jones and his wife and all who work with them and who were close to Eight Belles, especially the girl (I don't know her name) who did him the wonderful favor of introducing him to Eight Belles at Keeneland.  Our sympathy is also much with the Porter family.   

Thanks for offering this Memory Wall so all of us who have felt such grief over Eight Belles untimely loss can offer our condolences.        

09 May 2008 3:07 PM

I will always remeber watching Eight Belles in her last workout for the derby. She took my breath away with her attitude. She proves that she was one best and toughest fillies of recent years by her incredible second place finish. She deserves to be remembered for her incredible spirit and ability.

09 May 2008 3:11 PM

I remember cheering for Genuine Risk and thinking at last fillies had a chance in the Derby. It rekindled my interest in racing.

Then Go for Wand ... I left racing for a long time, until Barbaro.

Now Eight Belles.

I'm grateful that her jockey did everything he could. I'm grateful that the track vets very quickly made the right call.

But I am indescribably sad that this happened. I do think we are racing horses too young (the "tradition" defense is tantamount to saying that lynching is a tradition, too). I also think the TB industry breeds for speed first, soundness second. The cavalier attitude of getting some money out of a horse before it breaks down is unconscionable. WHY is anyone breeding stallions and mares who retired from the track unsound? Unsound horses should be culled from breeding -- period.

At the current rate of breeding unsound horses and racing them before they are mature, TB racing will extirpate itself in the U.S.

RIP, Eight Belles. I'm sorry this world didn't have any better to offer you.

09 May 2008 3:13 PM
Beckitty - Maryland

My deepest condolences to Eight Belles' family.  She was truly magnificent.  I am trying very hard to focus on the miracle of her spirit, rather than the tragedy of her death.  I do believe good changes will come in her name.  

09 May 2008 4:04 PM
Sandra Henry

It is always terrible to lose a horse so tragically. Eight Belles was doing what she was bred to do and probably loved doing. Horse racing is a fast-paced sport with a lot of individuals trying to be first to the finish.I think it is wrong to try to lay the blame at any one door--jockey, track, racing in general. It is not just horse racing that has these tragic accidents happen. A thorobred also had to be euthenized at the Rolex Competition after a particularly bad fall. Race car drivers are killed during races. Down Hill skiers are seriously injured during competitions. I don't think horse racing is necessarily evil. I think the industry is trying to be more and more safety consconcious. However, I do agree with a some of the other bloggers who have brought up the issue of age. I don't think any horse should be in competition before the age of 3. This includes show horses, jumping horses, race horses, reining horses. They all need time to grow and their joints, bones, and ligaments be allowed to develop and strenthen longer. Most of our competition horses go into a stall and training at a very young age. If they look as though they will bring a lot of money, they lead a very sheltered and protected life. They are not out running and playing in open spaces and on hard ground and strenthening their legs naturally as they did in the wild. Instead we artificially exercise them. So there are more things that lead to breakdowns than just being a racehorse.

09 May 2008 4:04 PM
Melissa K

First I would like to commend Catherine Owen's comments above. I myself ride race horses for a living. Our job is seven days a week and consumes your life. The horses are our world. Vacations come when you travel with a horse to a race. You never leave your horses, so i can tell you that no one is more distraught by this filly's death than all of her connections. All you other people with your show horses have no idea what race track life is like. I grew up on the hunter jumper circuit so i know that life as well. Race horses run at such tremendous speeds that you may have no indication of a problem before a breakdown. The comparison that some idiot above tried to make with the NFL was ridiculous. Anyone who knows the difference between the front and back of a horse knows that fatalities occur because horses are unable to lie recumbent while healing like humans. Athletes play with injuries. If we ever saw doctor reports on them we would be appalled, i assure they play in far worse shape than race horses. Every race horse is checked the morning of the race by the state vet and watched every second until they are loaded in the gate. I promise you that filly had no signs of trouble. Adrenaline while running masked the pain to the Eight Belles. I have broken my own leg and not realized it was broken for several hours. Every one needs to offer Eight Belles connections their sympathy and leave them alone, they did everything in the best interest of their filly and faced a great tragedy.  

09 May 2008 5:48 PM
Harriet Barros - Elmira, Oregon

This was horrible.  I would like to see a necropsy report on why both ankles would have broken..Was this a weakness in her confirmation or what?

Note: A full report from the necropsy that was performed at the University of Kentucky’s Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center is expected to take at least two weeks. See: Owner Porter Reflects on Eight Belles 

09 May 2008 6:50 PM
Clare Noble - Alachua, Fl

I've grown up around horses and horse racing and, although I can only remember one other horse that I've actually seen this happen to the time right now is to remember a wonderful horse.  Eight Belles WAS "beauty in motion" and she should be remembered for her talent, determination and heart - not the controversy people would have her be.  Eight Belles, you were a champion and you will be truly missed.

09 May 2008 8:30 PM

My condelences to Eight Bell's family.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to put down one of my horses. I understand why that had to be done. Even though it hurt.  I was just wondering why is there not an x-ray machine at the track, that if the horse had race in the pass 48 hours they could have their legs x-rayed before they race again. Just to make sure that there is not a hair line crack or a small fracture that could of happen in the previous race.  As I understand, the horse could have a small crack and no one would know.

09 May 2008 10:48 PM

Before making my comments, I want to extend my sympathy to Eight Belles owners, trainer, the jock, the grooms, and all others whose lives revolved around her.  She definitely was a beautiful filly who gave her absolute all - and, it's shameful to even consider revoking her win - she gave her life for it.  It's always tough to see any animal get hurt and suffer, no matter the cause.  I only noticed one comment in this blog, not having the time to read all of them.  It was one from Denise.  One of her comments was exactly what I am going to say (and many others may have, too, but - again - I didn't have the time to read through all of them).  I really feel that many horse events (not just racing) are having young horses (too young) compete at max levels - before their bodies have fully developed (skeletal, muscular, etc.).  I've been involved over the years in many aspects of the horse world and have many horse professionals as friends - racing, jumping, cutting, and the list goes on.  It also happens in the wonderful world of cutting horses - maybe not as dramatic an injury as the quick fractures that require euthanasia or cause eventual severe founder requiring eventual euthanasia many times (like Barbaro).  Although I love enjoy almost every horse event there is, I've never been an advocate of Futurities, requiring many horses to be started as young as long yearlings, trained heavily in their two-year-old year, then being required to all-out perform as soon as just months before they're even three-year-olds (January of all their three-year-old years).  It's not just racing, but racing gets more all around national coverage - with so much visibility having big races televised and promoted.  Maybe the euthanized, young race horses with severe injuries are the lucky ones.  I've seen way too many young horses over the years get crippled for life being pushed way too hard at too young an age, whether it be in racing, cutting, or any other sport that pushes these extreme, beautiful athletes to their max at such a young age.  OCD's, permanent hock damage, knees blown out, etc.  These are common things that many young horses incur just due to (I feel) starting them too young and pushing them beyond what their young, still-not-fully-developed bodies were meant to do so soon.  Yes, horses love to run (even foals) - but "exhaustion" injuries rarely happen "in the wild" or "playing" - they know to pace themselves. Yes, horses will always get hurt (so will football players, so will your children playing outside, etc.).  People who are physically very active (non-sedentary) will have physical injuries, too.  It's just a fact of life.  However, you wouldn't put your five-year-old child in a Triathalon.  Many old ranchers out West wouldn't even start a horse until they were five-year-olds, wanting to make sure their bodies had fully developed to the point that they could stand up to the tasks at hand (dragging steers, all day rides in rough terrain checking cattle, etc.).  I'm still amazed at just how young these athletes are "asked" to give it their all.  Track surfaces can be argued until people are blue in the face.  Yes, track surfaces can be good or bad; but too young a horse is too young a horse.  Too young a horse being asked to do something meant for a fully grown, fully developed adult horse has always been asking for trouble - inspite of the track, the jock, the trainer, the arena, the mountainous terrain, or whatever.  Yes, there are "bad" people in all walks of animals' (and peoples) lives, unfortunately - but, their are very good people, too, who care more than you know about the horses.  I feel that Larry Jones is more representative than not of most horsemen - they love their horses.  They live and breathe their horses.  They spend more time with the horses in their barn than they do with their own families.  There isn't a "sane" trainer on earth who would intentionally jeopardize the health of any horse in his barn.  Larry Jones, nor Eight Belles' jock, created racing of very young horses.  For many, many, many years, I've wanted to express my feelings about Futurities and other events for young horses, no matter the discipline.  I just thought this was an excellent place and time to "just maybe" have someone in these wonderful horse industries start the ball rolling to somehow push the ages out a bit before these young horses are asked to do what they love to do (and are bred to do).  Again, my heart and thoughts go out to all involved in this tragedy.  I personally feel that the horse associations shouldn't allow and promote their events to start with horses of very young ages.  Wait until they're older - I've recently learned that some associations have started considering doing this.  It's a move in the right direction, in my opinion.

09 May 2008 10:53 PM

Thank you for sharing Daisy's story w/ us Gina.  I cried as I read it.  I am planning on going to the Derby next year if it looks like Nicanor will be there.  Am reconsidering now.  I do not think I could take watching something like that in way too much for the animals.  Bless you and Daisy.  God Bless Eight Belles.

10 May 2008 11:12 AM

One will always question why tragedies like this happen. But no-body should be blamed or blame themselves. These things happen - yes try to find out why, in future take steps to reduce the chance of incidents like this - but it can happen any where, and any time regardless of the precautions one takes.

You can't make a horse do well at something it does not want to do. Eight Belles ran a brilliant race, she knew she'd done well - excelled herself at what she loved to do. And died in a moment of triumph. Tragic as it is, believe me there are worse deaths, far less dignified ends for us all.

My sympathies to her owner, trainer, jockey and all who worked with her.

10 May 2008 12:17 PM
Jody Woodard

Eight Belles was a great filly with outstanding accomplishments. While I hate to see any animal hurt, WHY can't people let enough alone. She was phenomenal and a fierce competitor. I congratulate her and all the people involved with her. Rest easy Eight Belles, and run in the pastures all you want now.

10 May 2008 12:32 PM
Thiessen Stables - Oregon

We all want to send our prayers to the owners, trainers, jockey, the team, family and anyone else that cared for and trained her for this big race with these boys. Eight Belles did awesome keeping up with all of those boys. Eight Belles will be very missed by everyone she touched in her life. Again, we are so sorry to hear of your loss of such a wonderful, awesome, great filly of Eight Belles. She will surely be missed.  

Sincerely, Thiessen Stables, Oregon

Home of "Princess Ti"

10 May 2008 7:35 PM

I truly believe most of the people involved with race horses treat them like children with lots of love and care. Eight Belles accident was that an accident. I have ordered her picture and it will hang besides Barbaros' and honor to what great horses these people provide us commonfolk to love. Lets not taint horseracing let's embrace it and support those who work so hard for us to enjoy it and feel that we are a part of it too.

10 May 2008 9:05 PM
Nancy Guthrie

I have know and loved horses all my life, only 5 years ago did I start watching horseracing. I thought how beautiful and competive they are and fell in love with them. I always loved the fillies and rememberd Rags To Riches beating Curlin. Wow , I had chills it seems for days. Here I was already for the Derby with a little beannie grey horse that was shipped to me. I thought "a sign Eight Belles will win or come close". I was running with her in my heart as she ran and then the unthinkable. After watching so many I loved before her go down and I can not pull myself out of the feeling of such hurt and anger. The industry does not what to change it seems to me. They will lose alot of people this time around. God Bess Eight Belles.

10 May 2008 11:18 PM
Anne M

No horse's death has touched me like this one since Ruffian and my heart goes out to Larry Jones, Rick Porter and Gabriel Saez. Eight Belles was a special filly who, because she finished her race, will be remembered now by history, not just by those of us who loved her. Records go on long after we are gone. This is one of the tragedies of this game - but although we must keep working for safety and the welfare of the horses, the fact remains that - unfortunately - the primary cause of breakdowns is EVOLUTION. The forces created and the angulations of a horse's legs can go so terribly awry, so much so that horses break down running at pasture or playing on their own. I know that Larry Jones did right by Eight Belles, as he did with Hard Spun and every other horse in his care, and deserves no blame for this tragedy. Thanks Larry and Rick for letting us share in the treasure that was Eight Belles.

11 May 2008 2:01 AM
Alison F.

My heart goes out to Larry Jones because I know that us trainers put our heart and sole into these spectacular creatures and they give it right back. Unfortunately accidents happen in the racing world as well as in any sport(human or animal). These equines recieve immaculate care and I can assure you that it is better care than any rescue PETA farm could/would give them. Larry is heart broken for sure. Watching a best friend pass is always hard. As far as this whip issue goes, the jockey did nothing wrong and they DO NOT beat the horse as I'm sure many PETA members believe. Believe me seeing Eight Belles fall broke my heart and tears fell for days, but fortunately time and life will help us all heal. I do believe we should start using synthetic material on the race track. I enjoy using it in the riding arena and it seems to be much better for the horses joints. hey don't seem to get so fatigued so quickly. And there is less swelling (if any) in joints after a hard workout. Again my heart goes out to Larry, and Eight Belles owner and jockey. Larry is a great man for the equine racing industry and I know that he will go on to raise and train more winners. I hope Preakness goes smoothly, Big Brown kicks butt and PETA get's stuck in traffic. Happy Racing!

11 May 2008 8:54 PM
Michael Boatright

Just would like to say I give my condolences to all the connections of Eight Belles. My heart goes out to the emotional tragedy that took place on that first Saturday in May. What a GREAT filly to do what she did in the race against the boys, her HEART was great just as she was in all of her performances on the race track. It really hit me pretty hard when I heard the news because it brought back another ill fated tragedy back in 1982 when the GREAT filly named Landaluce passed away. I do know this that she is in Heaven now running all day without any worries of breaking down ever again and doing what she loves to do. My deepest sympathy goes out to all.

12 May 2008 1:58 PM

As tragic and heartbreaking as the horror of what happened to Eight Belles is, I am very glad this did not happen in the middle of the race....the tragedy would have been unbelievable.

12 May 2008 2:34 PM

I thought this was a memory wall, not a what went wrong wall.

Stride on great filly! Stride on.

12 May 2008 8:55 PM
PAM of Sunny Farm

Thoroughbreds are born running & this is what they love to do & live to do, it's in their blood, even in the pasture, they gallop & race with each other neighing with joy.



12 May 2008 10:49 PM

IMAGINE beautiful, talented Eight Belles racing at 6 years old instead of at barely 3 years old...

Can you see her? At 6, she is now a lighter grey and a very confident tall lady, physically ready to take on the world... and to survive it.

IMAGINE her having the chance to be a youngster in the field, to grow up strong and develop...

Her big, giving heart was there from the day she was  born, but as nature requires, her body needed the time to mature.

Sweet girl, this was not a matter of whether or not you were loved, because you were. You should be in pasture just starting on some basics in your training, as opposed to starting a Derby. There would have been plenty of time for that later. No need to rush you, after all, what can be more precious to us than your healthy body and wellbeing?

Brave girl, your spirit was captivating and memorable.  


13 May 2008 12:45 AM
Pat in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

I would like to thank Sandra Henry for her comments. She obviously made them from experience. I am a pleasure horse owner and a t-bred racehorse watcher of over 30 yrs, beginning with Secretariat.

Thank you, Sandra, for your insight, and your message that EVERYONE involved with Eight Belles is suffering from her loss.

I'm not naive enough to know that there are some pretty shady people in the horseracing industry, and I cringe about the horses in their care, but Mr. Porter and Mr. Jones are definitely not among them. If Eight Belles was not ready to run in the Derby, she would have been scratched. It was just, in my humble opinion, a terrible accident. Thank you for allowing such a novice to have a voice.

13 May 2008 8:17 AM
Ginnie J

A simple 'thank you' and 'farewell' to a champion never to be forgotten.  You were so very easy to love, but it's so terribly hard saying 'good bye' to you. Rest in peace, sweet girl.

13 May 2008 10:03 AM
Elaine in Henrico,VA

Another comparison to Ruffian:

Eight Belles was beautiful and unique in her own right. But what a modern-day glimpse of the late, Ruffian she was. As the great one, Ruffian has been dead all these years, it was awesome to see a Ruffian-like filly in Eight Belles. The same competitive spirit, speed and physical characteristics as her predecessor Ruffian.  Eight Belles was spirited and talented and will forever live in our hearts, though a piece of the heart of each horse race fan dies along with our beloved equine athletes when these tragedies happen. May she rest in peace, and I hope she will find some great buddies in race horse heaven.

13 May 2008 12:41 PM
Melissa Brooks

This is a poem I wrote in memory of Eight Belles....

The ring of the bell,

and opening of the gate,

A sprint forward,

gallop away,

Down the track,

around the turn,

Into the dirt,

their hooves churn,

In the middle,

of the pack,

Is where,

the action's at,

Now its time to,

turn for home,

Around the outside,

he is not alone,

A filly is following,

Big Brown from behind,

Right pass the others,

across the finishline,

Second place,

was good enough,

For this filly,

to prove she was tuff,

She went head to head,

with the best,

Now she lays,

forever at rest,

Know that,

you did your part,

And you'll always remain,



13 May 2008 1:47 PM
Larry Fontenot

I'm so sick and tired of seeing horses getting hurt. Bad enough we loose our greats to stud farms without lost to injurys. She is still a great filly in my eyes. I think stopping meds to race horses would save a lot of them. Let them show their pain, maybe the trainer would not run them in a race untill they feel better. This is one way to save good horses.

13 May 2008 4:02 PM

Every athletic sport can cause injury and sometimes death. This is true in humans as well as animals. Precautions are taken in any sport but sometimes its not enough. When a man falls to his death rock climbing, or a race care driver dies racing, because his equipment failed or some physical break down in any sport, no one says it should not go on they say he/she died doing what they loved. Any one who participates in sport with their horse knows that the horses love it too. You could not make a 1200 pound horse race, jump, or any competition, or work if they did not want to. Remember a race horse is conditioned and trained so much more than your average rodeo or gymcanna horse. They train just like a person would for the Olympics. People start training for the Olympics often times when they are just children there bones are still growing it is what helps them develop to be the best. It would be irresponsible to have these horses not train until after three and then try to train them into physical perfection when they have been just grazing in a field some where. Injuries would increase I assure you.

13 May 2008 5:36 PM

May all of the beautiful animals rest in peace with GOD above.

13 May 2008 11:37 PM

Get a grip people! As great as she was this happens. Do you really think race horses are not pampered, cared for in the most kind of way. When a horse is bought for 1000's of dollars, the care the training and the cost of employs to care for a horse, a trainer is not going to risk the result a death, and the chance to have a wonderful horse. That is most of the reason horse people get into racing. For the joy of seeing a beautiful horse do was it loves and guided by the training. We are a kind and passionate nation and we always morn the lose of any life. Be it animal of human. Horse seem to tug at our heart more because they are so glorious and beautiful.There are bad people in anything.  This is life. Birth, life, sorrow, joy and death.  The people in Eight Bells life fall into the good group.

14 May 2008 10:19 AM

Oh what a wonderful angel.  Eight Belles has won the hearts of so many. I can't get her out of my mind.  I was tuned in on that fateful day and will never forget the feeling of excitement for this special filly up against "the boys".  Then the worst nightmare!  She did win in a way, she was a filly and beat all but one of the boys.  Rick and Larry have lost a very special lady but, she will live in our hearts forever.  I hope time helps the pain for me.  It has been almost two weeks and I am still crying.  I know God has his reasons and maybe Eight Belles memory will make the difference in horse racing.  Her name will represent all the good changes that will come from this.  Synthetic tracks hopefully will be the first thing her loss will accomplish.  I personally will help, in her name I will.

14 May 2008 8:23 PM

Eight Belles just looked like a male! She ran with grace, urgency and like a Champion would have. Big Brown is a horse to remember, but a filly running clearly second to a horse like that 4 or 5 lengths ahead of the next Derby contender deserves a great deal of consideration!! That filly had already proven she could beat her own kind!  She took on Male's for the first time and beat 19 of 20 on her way to the race of her life!! I don't believe it was the dirt track or males racing against her that killed her, I think it was the willingness of her heart that ran her to the race of her life!! Long LIVE the elagance and determination of EIGHT BELLES!!!

14 May 2008 9:30 PM
D. Zenisek from Wyoming

To the Porter Family, the Jones Family, and the entire 'Belle' Family, my heart and deepest sympathies go out to you all. I have lost loved ones also, but not in the magnitude such as yours. I can't even begin to imagine the hurt and shocking disappointment involved in experiencing one of life's highest moments, just to have it suddenly ripped away minutes later.  There has not been a day since that I have not thought of your Eight Belles and my heart does not ache. It saddens me so, that while we can go to the moon and back, we still don't have the technology or the means to save a more deserving champion.

I'm an average, thirty something woman.  A mother of a 17 year old daughter.  As a woman, I've faced many of life's challenges along the way. I've given a 110% and have lost. I've also given a 110% and have won. It's those moments that are worth living.  The glory in itself, some would say, is worth one's last breath...Now, I pay little attention to sports, including horse racing, but I've always believed horses are the true athletes of the world of sports. They don't compete for the money or the fame, but for the pure simple love of the sport and the glory. This is a trait to be admired.

Eight Belles proved time and time again with her strength, build, heart and fearless spirit that she could indeed run with the boys.  By entering her in the Kentucky Derby, you gave not just me, but I believe many women across this country hope. Hope in a society which says to it's women 'no, you can't'.  Her as a contender, in the 'mighty race for the boys' signified so much, that words just can't explain. I don't believe for a minute that there wasn't a woman that didn't stand taller witnessing Eight Belles, with her magestic grace of a lady, and fearless determination of a warrior, cross that finish line in 2nd place, leaving all those boys in her dust.  Big Brown was a given, Eight Belles was a triumph.

Men respected her, women were honored by her, and ultimately in the end, all came to mourne her.

Thank you so very much for sharing this magificent creature with us all. Her shear will and determination to have her glorious moment at no matter the cost, says what a true champion she was.  She is an inspiration not only to me, but to my daughter who is about to embark out into this crazy world, and hopefully, her daughters to come. Her spirit will live on in legend.

   Ever So Sincerely,


15 May 2008 4:01 PM

The moon has cried many a tear and will continue to cry over losing such a great champion as Eight Belles. By day the sun will shine and celebrate your glorious life and all your great and wonderful accomplishments. We may never truly know, just how far you would have went in your racing career, but we do know that your impact on mankind will not be forgotten. Your legacy in history is forever...Eight Belles. And every time the thunder roars, I will know that you are up in heaven, racing the great champions, and leaving dirt in their faces.

15 May 2008 7:29 PM


16 May 2008 10:29 AM

As one who has raised TB's for many years I know the heartbreak of losing them, at any age, and it never gets easier. What angers me is the ignorant criticism of Eight Belles connections. These people loved this filly and wanted nothing but the best for her. Her memory should not be tarnished by those who think she was "abused" by running in the Kentucky Derby. She was a great and gallant filly and should be remembered that way without any negativity. Those who loved and cared for her deserve our sympathy, not our wrath. God Speed Eight Belles!

16 May 2008 2:14 PM
Karen, PA

There are no words that can adequately express the shock, the heartbreak and sadness over the manner of this truly jarring loss of the lovely and tough Eight Belles.  My heart goes out to all connected.  I know this has strongly affected all of us who love and respect animals, horses, and Barbaro and the vision he gave us.

Run strong across the Rainbow Bridge, Eight Belles.

16 May 2008 7:06 PM

Eight Belles your heart was bigger than your stride.  I just wish you wouldn't have raced against the boys or could have been a little older.  Maybe you would still be here.  

16 May 2008 8:39 PM
K.D. Bigelow

I have been on a race track since birth.  My mother trained.. I have been a rider since I could walk and started riding race horses at the age of 8!  Just like the riders.. some horses are born to RACE.. I can die anytime I get on one.. and I wouldn't turn one down!  Dale Earnhardt had a terrible accident.. if he were here.  HE would say "I would Do It AlL again!"  If the filly spoke human.. she was no flake!  She loved what she was doing.  If you KNOW HORSES you would know the truth!  She would have said her song was "LIVE LIKE YOU WERE DYING!"

no horse,colt or filly RUNS LIKE that if they are unhappy!!


TO EIGHT BELLES!  "I AM ONLY human.." (If I get to go out like you.. I will thank God!)  "YOU MY DEAR ARE A STAR!"  

17 May 2008 7:07 PM
Joanie gonsalves

I have a question. Why was her head turned to the right as she was coming down the stretch? Was she trying to take weight off her left front foot?

What a great horse you were Eight Belles to be able to run with the boys.Because of you things will improve for other horses.And we can all still enjoy our passion for horseracing.

17 May 2008 8:32 PM

Eight Belles was a sweet and beautiful horse.  She ran an amazing race at the Kentucky Derby.  I was so saddened by her injury and passing.  She will be remembered always.  Rest in peace, sweet girl.

18 May 2008 3:14 PM

Larry Jones has a breaking heart though he had a winner in the Oaks and a 2nd in the Derby.  Things happen, horses can take bad steps now and then.  It just happens sometimes.  Too bad horses can't go on living without all 4 legs.  It is a sad situation but unfortunately it has happened many times throughout horse racing history, and car racing, and skiiing, and football, baseball, etc. you get my drift.

18 May 2008 7:45 PM

i was taken by the beautiful eight belles last fall as i always keep an eye out for larry jones entries..i was hooked and thought she was more than worthy of running with the boys.i watched every race she ran and was beside myself when they entered her in the derby..this was a special one.i hope her connections here on earth are able to heal as i know their hearts are broken as is mine .i never laid a hand on her but felt a connection to her.maybe i was remembering the other great filly ruffian.i know they are in a great big green field beating all the in peace dear eight belles

18 May 2008 8:08 PM

To the Belle connections, Please know that you have my deepest sympathy for your loss and my thoughts and prayers are with.  She was beautiful and right where she belonged as evidenced by her beating 18 of the 19 boys and coming closer to Big Brown than anyone else in his short career.  Please know too that I am so saddens by all the bad press and truly nasty things people are saying.  You certainly, in my opinion, do not deserve that.  She was obviously well loved and cared for and it breaks my heart that the people that loved her the most are being villified.

19 May 2008 3:44 PM

You are missed, beautiful girl

20 May 2008 8:03 AM

In Steve Haskin's current column he sites an Arabian proverb: "The air of heaven blows between a horse's ears".  How apropos.  The gentle spirit known as Eight Belles is riding the air of heaven.

20 May 2008 8:53 PM

Eight Belles you were a true beauty, so happy to see a filly out there beating the boys :-) So sad to see you go, forever in our hearts and memories.......

I do not want to push blame on anyone, I just hope, no I PRAY that maybe Eight Belles death will finally open some eyes. Haven't we had this same old familiar heart sinking imiage in our minds already too many times, Ruffian, Barbaro, etc..... it goes on and on. And these are only the "well" known horses, what about the local track horses that lose their lives everyday. PLEASE lets make some changes, starting with the age at which a horse can be raced. I know that we can make a difference and do what is best for the horses and not the pocket book!

21 May 2008 1:08 AM
Maggie Creighton, New South Wales, Australia.

I never saw Eight Belles race. In Australia, we don't really get very many American races televised. But I have followed racing in many countries for years and have worked in the industry and with horses generally for a long time. I understand there are many who believe racing is a cruel sport. I don't deny there are aspects that appear to be so or that there are those in the sport who truly are so. That comes in all sports, animal or otherwise. It comes in all aspects of life. There is good and bad in all things. Having said that, these animal activists, or extremeists if you like, need to understand that thoroughbreds were bred specifically to run. They weren't some wild breed forcefully tamed and denied freedoms. As a breed they did not exist until created with the sole intention of creating fire in flight. To develop the most exquisite and purest speed horses ever bred. To deny them the right to race is like denying you your right to breathe. To them, it is their breath of life. All the horses I cared for loved it. They knew when a race was coming long before we ever got near the track. They were so eager for the thrill of the race. To imply that those involved with the sport don't care or love their horses is disgusting. There are those who do not - just as there are people out there who do unspeakable things to children with even greater impunity. We don't condone it but I believe they are in the minority. Most of us would move Heaven and Earth to spare our beautiful babies a moment's pain. I'm certain those connected with Eight Belles are that way. Their distress at this time is only compounded by implications of cruelty. No one could have forseen this freakish accident. I have a friend who snapped her ankle just walking normally down several steps. So whose responsible for that? No one. It's simply an accident. No one's to blame. I have seen the photos of Eight Belles - what a stunningly beautiful filly she was. Like others, that's what we'll remember. I don't think the track surface really had much to do with it. We race almost exclusively on turf and accidents will still happen. So just leave it alone and let this lovely filly rest in peace and let her connections grieve. It is not your right to take that away from them or anyone simply to gratify your own agenda.

Race on, Eight Belles. Heaven's winning post awaits you.

21 May 2008 12:10 PM

I loved this little filly, and placed her in my top Derby three even when the experts said that she was in way over her head. She repaid my faith with her brilliant showing, and I was crushed at her death. My sympathy rests with her connections, for the grief that they feel must be horrid. I miss you, you big gray sweetheart. The world misses you. RIP sweet baby.

21 May 2008 3:27 PM
Cindy Del

RIP you beautiful rode with boys and showed guts and glory.  May you run pain free forever.  God Bless you Eight Belles.

We will never forget you.

21 May 2008 7:30 PM
A song for Eight Belles

Hi everyone,

I wrote a song for Eight Belles a few days after she died.  You can hear it at

It came from my heart.

Maura Campbell

21 May 2008 7:39 PM
lance guranovich

i saw shaker knit and mr. nickerson lay on the track for what seemed like an eternity only to see go for wand break down right in front of me several races later.

the vision of her getting up and attempting to run with her broken leg dangling and falling again close to the outer rail will never leave me.

nobody mentions mr. brooks, but he was a top sprinter from europe who broke down in the breeders' cup sprint.

i don't have the answers to any of it, but i do know that most trainers and most equine vets will get that lost in space look when the subject of illegal drugs comes up in conversation. who? me? impossible! just like roger clemons, barry bonds and mark mcguire.

in closing, i wanted to mention that i bet exogenous in the breeders' cup and i was absolutely stunned when she flipped and got her leg caught in the fence. i thought that was the worst of it until they replayed her fall and i saw her head hit the ground.

later on, they showed her in her stall and i felt elated that she was standing. later on in the week she died due to brain trauma.

as much as i love the sport of thoroughbred racing, i have become conditioned to expect the worst in any race that i watch. it doesn't matter if they are $3,000 claimers or the best that are running, there are times when i watch a race out of the corner of my eye as if i cannot bear to watch it head on in the event something happens. at such a point, it is no longer a pleasurable experience.

however, to all of the eight belles and ruffians and go for wands of the racing world, they and their brethren have my undying love and gratitude for running their hearts out for us and bringing excitement to us, to which everything else pales in comparison. God bless them all.

22 May 2008 4:55 AM
Trish Smith

I was fortunate to watch this awesome filly train at Churchill Downs.  She captured my heart.  I am saddened by her passing.  I am angered by the comments made about the connections.  Eight Belles was and is a great filly and she proved that to me!  She is a bright star in the heavens!

23 May 2008 11:55 AM
Lisa Achilli

RIP, big girl.

23 May 2008 12:26 PM

Eight Belles will live forever in our minds and hearts.  She ran that race with such determination to win.  You can see it in her eyes.  I believe she was the winner.  Her name will go down in history as the filly that gave her life in front of so many people, people who woke up and saw that horse racing must be safer for the animals sake.  


24 May 2008 10:49 PM

RIP Eight Belles - You were truly awesome and destined for even bigger and better things.  I have a question though.  If there is no difference in the sexes then why are there races just for fillies?  Seems to me it would be divided up by age if all things were equal.  Now, I am not blaming the connections but I personally believe that Eight Belles died because she was chasing something that she couldn't catch and pushed herself beyond her body's limitations.  Like Michael Matz said "the good ones try harder".

25 May 2008 12:45 AM
Michelle Bogan

A beautiful, valiant, and glorious filly.

25 May 2008 2:52 PM
debbie cline

You are gone but not forgotten beloved Eight Belles. I love you and miss you so much. Run free with the wind in your mane. No more pain.

26 May 2008 2:46 PM
Diane Lipsey

I saw Eight Belles the morning of the Derby and had a feeling either she or Big Brown would take it with the other probably second. This came true, but I doubt anyone could've foreseen the tragedy about to unfold. Such a beautiful filly! Obviously so talented! Like Ruffian, Black Gold, Go For Wand, Prairie Bayou, Barbaro and so many others, gone much too soon. It helps to think she is back on four sound legs again. Beautiful girl, you will be remembered and loved always. So sorry for all the pain you went through. Rest in your heavenly fields!

27 May 2008 2:07 AM

I try and watch the triple crown races every year as I have loved horses for pretty much my whole life. I did not believe it when I found out what had happened (I had to miss it this year as I was travelling so watched it after on my computer). I don't know why but one of the most upsetting things for me was that her jockey wasn't one of the people beside her when she died. The only picture I have seen with him in it shows him walking away. I really just do not understand this... I hope she is happy now and I feel for the owner and trainer. She was beautiful.

30 May 2008 1:57 AM
Deby Campana

Hey everyone.  Order the Eight Belles wristband.  I have mine.  Proceeds go to the Midlantic Horse Rescue.  The band is red with her name on it.  I don't have the address handy so do a search on Bloodhorse and the farm and address will come up.  I wear mine along with Barbaro's wristband.  

30 May 2008 5:00 PM

I will be there at Churchill in 2009 to honor you hopefully Eight Belles with tears in my eyes,you will not be forgotten but honored as an inspiration for us all!

30 May 2008 10:25 PM

It's been a while since the Derby and talk about Eight Belles has slowly petered I wanted to say a little something to keep it going!  I love Big Brown and just wanted to say that the ONLY horse to even TRY to run at him has been EIGHT BELLES--she has been the only horse with the GUTS and DETERMINATION to try to beat him!!  YOU GO GIRL!!  What an honor it will be to her memory if he wins the Triple!  Go Brownie--make it a magical Triple Crown and honor that beautiful gray filly that was breathing down your neck at Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May!

01 Jun 2008 2:35 PM
julie o Billings Mt

I was there at Churchill 2008 I had followed Eight Belles progress all season. What beauty, heart and cougage she displayed that day.She was and is a true champion. I cried that day and many after whenever there was news about her. I still cry for Barbaro and the Ruffian and all the other great horses of racing history.I too wear a bracelet for her and Barbaro. I did not ever have a doubt about Big Brown and hope he takes the crown! Horse racing needs him after all the tragedy. My money however was on Eight Belles and I donated my winnings in Her name to The Old Friends Rescue Farm. My heart goes out to all of her caregivers for I personally know the care and love given on the backside.

02 Jun 2008 3:14 PM
Robin in WV

Now that time has passed, the loss of Eight Bells has not became any easlier. The memory of anguish in her eyes still haunts me, the same as it did in another set of eyes some 30 years ago, the blazing eyes of the magnificent Ruffian as she struggled against the pain that tore through her body She too, gave her life for our enjoyment. And the beautiful eyes of Go for Wand as she struggled to rise on legs that would no lonmger support her. And so many others too, that have been lost, Barbaro, Ivestia, Pine Island, Timely Writer, and the list goes on.   We must remember these magnificent athletes forever in our hearts and in our minds and find ways to prevent it from happening again to the next set of "burning eyes".  I am tired of weeping for my heroes.  I sit here crying thinking of Ruffian and what could have been even now.  I will never see the likes of her again. Nor of Eight Belles, Barbaro, or any other noble horse that gave their life on the track.  They gave their life in the noblest of way, for our enjoyment. Never let their memory fade, keep them alive in your heart and in the hearts of racing.  They are what this sport is all about.  I miss you Ruffian, and now you too, Belle.  Don't run too fast up there in heaven.

02 Jun 2008 3:34 PM

The loss of Eight Belles was nothing less than a great tragedy for me and many other race fans around the world who love the sport for the great athleticism of these magnificent animals. The reason for her loss is puzzling to all . I'm beginning to lean more and more to less racing of two year olds with just some modest training. A horse doesn't need to race as a two year old to be a champion. I got into racing in the mid 70's and witnessed a great horse by the name of Forego who never raced as a two year old but still managed to be horse of the year an unprecedented three times and champion handicap horse four times. And we don't have to go too far back to witness another great horse who didn't race as a two year old and again became Horse of the Year as a three year old by the name of Curlin. I think these two examples speak volumes on how to safe guard a racehorse so they can continue to entertain us with their speed and splendor.

04 Jun 2008 12:56 PM

I cringe when people dare to state that Eight Belles didnt belong in that race....what makes a filly different than the colts? No one complained about Rags To Riches when she won the Belmont against colts....I ride show jumpers and owning a a stallion, 3 geldings and a mare is the one who is up to the challenge over all of them! I wouldn't hesitate putting a talented filly in there. She proved that the only horse that could beat her, filly or colt, was a (hopefully he'll win saturday...) triple crown winner. That's beyond impressive. Things happen, its terrible and sad but don't blame it on breeding or meds because heres what it is, what is meant to be, will be, no one is intentionally sending lame horses into the Derby or Breeders Cup, I stand by that, things just happen. My gelding broke his knee in his stall, another broke his leg in his pasture and my mare broke her coffin bone. Look at Nashoba's Key! She wasn't even racing! And it wasn't from "bad blood" because that mare was built to the hill. God Bless Eight Belles and all the other great horses who have given their everything to what THEY along with us racing.

04 Jun 2008 2:34 PM

I've read alot of negative comments and it angers me to see the lack of knowledge people possess about these great athletes.

Although it is tragic when they pass it would be an even more of a tragedy to not allow them to achieve greatness.

Eight Belles was an amazing horse and we all should only be so lucky as  to cross over to the other side doing something we love.

To all of you that know nothing about these great horses,yes the great ones really do love what they do!

06 Jun 2008 6:37 AM

Tonight I came home and found a small package in my mailbox.  I knew right away that it was my Eight Belles rubber bracelet that I had sent for a couple of weeks ago.  I held it in my hand and the memory of her beautiful image gallopping with her trainer in the irons came back to me.I silently thanked Mr & Mrs Porter for agreeing to work with the Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred Rescue in issuring the braclets.  My husband asked if I was okay and I said sure. I opened the package and slipped it on next to the Barbaro braclet I have worn since his death. They are on my arm together and I am sure they are somewhere together in a wonderfully green pasture, with Ruffian, and all the other fallen heroes of my past.

Please,no more should follow.

06 Jun 2008 8:18 PM
Robyn Wolf

you did an outstanding run at the race dear Eight Belles. a job well done girl! i am soooo very proud of you! say hello to Barbaro for me too. i miss you both terribly.R.I.P now at Rainbow's Bridge. love, Robyn in NC

07 Jun 2008 1:51 PM
Horse Lover

You were truly amazing Eight Belles. Racing lost a wonderful champion. Your strengh and spirit will be remembered in years to come. I wish accidents like this could be prevented. You were truly a once in a lifetime filly and everyone who met you should be proud to have known you. We miss you!

07 Jun 2008 9:38 PM

Maybe it was supposed to be Eight Belles and Big Brown, like Alydar and Affirmed...

Maybe celebrating a triple crown winner would have been a tribute to thoroughbred racing and Eight Belles...

Maybe celebrating a triple crown winner would have disrespectful when Eight Belles died in the Kentucky Derby...

It has been a very tough triple crown series.  

This is personal, but I suspect that like me, many people have loved horses for as long as they can remember. For them thoroughbred racing is the closest they will get to a real horse.  

There are probably many fans who are not in the tax-bracket to own a horse.  Many of them would if they could, but they can't even afford a rescued horse.

Please do everything possible to have a safe summer season, and a safe Breeders's Cup.

Like baseball, horse racing is a rite of spring which holds deep meaning for horses and humans.  Hope springs eternal.

Having followed thoroughbred racing off and on for over 35 years, I can only say that I don't know how I'll feel The First Saturday in May 2009.    

08 Jun 2008 10:33 AM

My heart goes out to Larry Jones and Tom Porter and all those who loved Eight Belles.  I, myself, just lost a sweet little 10-month old filly this past Saturday to a severe break (due to who knows what).  To all the gentle spirits who have lost their lives, rest in peace and know you will not be forgotten.

10 Jun 2008 6:06 PM
&lt;3 Eight Belles

I hadn't really heard much of Eight Belles until the Kentucky Derby, and then I saw what I was missing out on.  She was so beautiful and amazing and every stride she took was full of grace.  I guess Barbaro wanted a girlfriend up there...but we will always be blessed with her terrific victories that she provided.

12 Jun 2008 7:38 PM
Karen B

I grew up with racing Thoroughbreds and I love racing. I love to watch racing. But I don't like seeing horses break down. The best thing racing can do is stop racing 2 yr olds! Why can't people see that Big Brown (like so many before him when they get to the Belmont) was tired. He was past his peak, he needed a rest.

14 Jun 2008 11:59 PM
Patricia J. M.-St. /Burton,Mi

Remembering the now lovely legend of our horseracing legend ,our nation's beloved and the Kentucky

Derby's second place winner, the

talented beloved three year filly,

EIGHT BELLES, will forever be in our thoughts, hearts and private

prayers. I never owned a horse,

however I loved horses since I was a child. I admired friends and family and other people who are fortunate to own and love and care for them. May God protect and bless

EIGHT BELLES forever. My prayers also go to all of EIGHT BELLES

connections and her jockeys.

She was an absolutely a very classy and a very beautiful filly.

God speed!!

17 Jun 2008 6:19 AM

Your in good hands now, God's and Barbaro's. May you rest in peace.

17 Jun 2008 7:02 AM

There has been some time now, sweet girl, since you left us on your wings of silver.  However, your name and your presence will be with us forever in the good works now being done in your name.  You, after all, came the closest to the new hopeful, Big Brown, who once again proved that horses are not machines but living, loving, breathing souls who have ups and downs but above all need to race without drugs, with strong bones, and to have a safe haven after racing.  You have inspired many, you will grow with time to become an icon of beauty, strength, courage, and most of all, huge heart.  We loved you.

And we must once again extend our deepest sympathy to those who loved you most and would have given anything to keep you safe.  They also paid.

Fly free, big girl, we are SO proud of you.  Say hello to Barbaro, Pine Island, Gallant Secret, George Washington, Inesperado, Excess in the City, and Lost in the Fog.  Try to let them win once in a while...

22 Jun 2008 6:28 PM

Can someone tell me why this filly brokedown?  Did they conclude that it was flexor tendon fatigue?  It just wasn't a bad step.  Anyone?

24 Jun 2008 5:01 PM

My best to her connections, especially her trainer and groom.  I thought she ran a winning race, but with all the steadying and places where she couldn't run she was ran an unlucky but plucky second.  Unfortunately, the track was sealed and probably parts  were not as safe as others, harrowing only does so much once the track is sealed, and one bad step took her from us.  I can't imagine what it must have been like for those who loved her and were with her everyday.  For me she is one more filly I fell in love with who is no more.

If people get behind one change in racing because we lost Eight Belles; let it be the end of sealing a track when it rains.  Horses in the past ran on muddy and drying tracks--there is nothing fair or safe to a sealed and harrowed surface.  Who needs to run on concrete?

For Eight Belles:  Run free in heaven darling where you will be painfree and have worthy competition.  

24 Jun 2008 6:22 PM

Eight Belles lives on in our hearts and I pray resides in God's fields above. I promise not to forget her. Even though she was not on steroids I think her death has touched a concern of better care for these great horses. I pray that it will. She is now grazing among the greatest Native Dancer, Damascus, Secretariat, Sunday Silence. forever happy, forever loved, and forever remembered.

24 Jun 2008 8:38 PM
Full Moon Madness

For Eight Belles:

May your untimely death be the last one to take place because the humans that made you are too wrapped up in the "business" of horse racing instead of acting to make it safer for horses, jockeys, exercise riders and stable workers.

You will always be remembered as the "real story" of the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

May you Rest In Peace, beautiful girl.

Free At Last?

25 Jun 2008 3:12 PM
L Wise

Yes, hopefully Eight Belles did not die in vain.  Many things need changing in professional horse racing and there is no better time than now to begin those changes.

Meanwhile, Eight Belles will be in excellent company:  Barbaro, George Washington, Ruffian, Pine Island, Gallant Secret and the list goes on . . .

May they all run in endless green fields for the pure joy running brings them.  They all brought a tremendous amount of pleasure with their grace and beauty.

25 Jun 2008 6:03 PM

Still think of you 8 Belles.  Know you are "free to run with the angels on streets made of gold" now (Mark Harris song...always reminds me of Barbaro).

26 Jun 2008 9:46 AM


26 Jun 2008 9:53 AM

Sleep well, sweet angel. You are in our thoughts forever.

26 Jun 2008 10:32 PM

Eight Belles was a true champion. May she rest in peace.

28 Jun 2008 8:19 AM
Pam Whitmire

It's been almost 2 months now and the first thing I though when my eyes opened this morning was how I miss Eight Belles and Barbaro. I will never forget either of you. I think often about the records you would have made and broken. I know you are running in heaven with Ruffian and Go For Wand. What a race to see!!

28 Jun 2008 9:25 AM

Like Robin, I too am tired of crying for my heroes.  All this time has passed since we lost her, and yet my heart still breaks every time I think about Eight Belles.  I won't get over this one, and now my interest in horseracing is almost gone.  Just can't take anymore.  I will miss seeing these gorgeous animals run like the wind, but ... for me, watching the races only causes anxiety and dread.  I watched Ruffian break and fall and die.  Never dreamed I'd see this - 33 years later and still the babies are raced.  I feel the bells of Eight Belles tolling in the marrow of my bones, hear them in my dreams.  We will never forget you, filly the color of thunderclouds.  You were very very special.    

28 Jun 2008 4:09 PM

She  was a  wonderful  horse.... She  was  so pretty...  We all  miss her .... R.I.P. Eight Belles....

29 Jun 2008 2:25 PM
Jai Singh

she beats the entire field in my eyes (Yes ) a true horse player for 19 years.

01 Jul 2008 9:28 PM
Amy Reynolds

What a true lady Eight Bells was. I thought Big Brown would win the Derby, but when I saw that beautiful grey filly come charging, I really wondered about Brown's chances. Even as Big Brown crossed the line in front, I was really rooting for Belle. She did a remarkable, outstanding job going after the boys. As elated as I was for Big Brown, when I saw her laying on the track, I was that devestated. I hoped and prayed it was just from exhaustion. When I realized that she had in fact broke down, I broke down. I have four horses of my own. I have raised three of them from my now retired 30 year old Quarter Horse mare. I went outside to them and just rubbed them and hugged them and kissed them and thanked God for them. Belle was in some of the best hands in training and ownership and had an outstanding jockey. This could have happed just as easily in a turnout paddock as it did on the track. Break-downs are not "a part of the game". Rather it is a hazzard to just owning a horse that you do nothing but ride the trails with. Bless you heart, Belle and thank you for taking all of us on a spectacular ride.

02 Jul 2008 10:47 AM

eight belles was an amazing horse, there won't be another filly like her for a long time she was one of the best, better than the colts. she is greatly missed by me and everyone. i loved her, she was beautiful and had amazing talent.

03 Jul 2008 11:33 AM

She was one of racing's greatest fillys. She had so much heart courage and determination. I watched that race and cried a lot that night. This makes us all think of Barbaro too. I love horse racing but I do think there needs to be more precautions taken to the sport. They are not bred for durability and I'm glad jockeys have rules now too. RIP Eight Belles a great Filly. Her courage, will, heart and determination will never be forgotten<3

03 Jul 2008 12:33 PM

Dear Eight Belles,

I was screaming for you coming down that stretch and so proud to see you hang on to second! I thought, she has the heart of Ruffian and Genuine Risk. So wonderful!

Then I saw a horse down and knew it was you. And my heart fell!

Knowing that a special ceremony  next year will be held in your honor and that you and Barbaro will reside at Churchill helps a lot.

I, like many others here, wish you many happy races in heaven!! Run free and say hi to Ruffy for me!

Missing all of you!

03 Jul 2008 10:08 PM

8 Belles: You are still in my thoughts and prayers......

05 Jul 2008 8:58 PM

eight belles was the greatest filly the worlds seen in a long time, and we wont see another one like her in a long time or perhaps ever. she had so much heart and grit. she gave that race her all. she was a magnificent filly so beautiful and blessed with so much talent. i love you for ever and ever, and you'll never be forgotten. she kicked those colts butts. colts are no better than fillies, and no one should think they are. eight belles was proof of that. may you rest in peace with all the other racing legends. i love you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

07 Jul 2008 2:04 PM

I was personally shocked by Eight Belles' breakdown at the Derby. Man, why have there been so many breakdowns in the last few years? Surfaces? Medication? Breeding for speed and not stamina? We need a definite answer, and fast.

08 Jul 2008 7:50 PM

Eight Belles, I still think of you and how courageous and beautiful you were.  I envision you running free in Heaven.  You will always be missed.

09 Jul 2008 9:02 PM
lady belles was a champion

i am still sad over eight far as i am concerned SHE WON THE DERBY since she had no drugs in her system!i hope that her familys hearts are healing!!she certainly did belong in the derby..what a great heart..people should take note of her and maybe they would learn a thing or two

10 Jul 2008 10:19 PM

My 2008 Derby memories have a bit of sadness from 8 Belles break down.  How great she raced!!!  Now at the ND Horse Park I get a little reprieve at being able to pet Barracuda Boy - 8 Belles 1/2 sibling(same sire)!  Not her, but it is as close to her as I will ever be able to be.  Come visit him this August at the ND Horse Park located in Fargo,ND!

26 Jul 2008 12:05 PM

3 months later...and I'm still not over you.

Love you, filly.

30 Jul 2008 5:07 PM
Maria M.

She was spectacular. From her first victory in a maiden special weight to her stunning second-place derby finish, her life was amazing. Everything about her was beautiful. Her head, her eyes, her lovely one-of-a-kind tail. She was fast, gutsy, and had a heart of gold.

I cheered for her in the derby. She was one in a million.

I sobbed when it happened. My heart breaks for her connections. I'm sorry, Larry, Rick, Cindy, Betsy, Gabe, the the others. I'm SO, SO sorry. It wasn't your fault. It was a tragedy, but no one is to blame. You are all in my prayers. Eight Belles will be forever remembered for the champion she was. God bless you guys, and rest in peace, my darling Eight Belles.

Eight Belles ... forever remembered, always loved. God's filly forever and a day.

01 Aug 2008 2:17 PM

i hope eightbelles is haveing a great time with barbaro, ruffian and all the others.she was a great filly. i have pics of her. there is still hope though.for barbaro his legacy lives on in nicanor and lentenor.  i hope there is an eight belles sibling somewhere. why must the good die young???

02 Aug 2008 11:08 PM

I watched the Kentucky Derby that day and like so many others, I rooted for Eight Belles all the way up until her last breath. I have lost a horse myself, and I can't even imagine what it must have been like for Eight Belles connections that day.At least I knew my gelding was sick and old but Eight Belles death was totally unexpected... Besides that she was only 3!! She was still a baby!!! She was an amazing filly though! R.I.P. Eight Belles! We love you!!

07 Aug 2008 11:33 PM

Eight Belles will never be forgotten because she ran her heart out and stayed right next to the colts.

08 Aug 2008 12:54 PM

another horse broke down today in one of the arlington races. one of her front cannons by the looks. 4yrold mare named ethir basalt,disalt,or dassault. i hope she wasnt like 8 belles.

08 Aug 2008 8:16 PM

Eight Belles will always be a winner and missed so much.

I wear your bracelet everyday and you will be remembered.

08 Aug 2008 9:16 PM
M. + H.

I love you, Eight Belles, and always will. You had a fun life here with Larry, Cindy, Rick, and the others. Now you have a fun life with the angels. And maybe they can you some manners!! =) It was cute when you wouldn't stop for Larry!!! RIP, baby.

11 Aug 2008 9:23 AM

 I will allways love Ruffian,she was a filly from my generation.WE hate when any horse goes down.Sadly some horses go down.We hate when our dogs get hit by cars but ultimately what can we do? E.B. was finer than fine.No amount of anguish will ever bring HER back. Lets just remember Her for being the Kick butt Filly that she was!

12 Aug 2008 9:27 PM
Mariah P.

Poor Eight Belles I did watch the derby but today was the first time I heard about this website thank God I did. For About the last year  when I grew up I wanted to breed Thoroughbreds, but since Eight Belles I wanted them to be Jumpers, Broodmares, Sires, or pleasure horses just so nothing would happen (even though stuff happens in jumping too)! But, racehorses are much cooler so mine can be for all those things! Look forward to seeing me in Future races!

19 Aug 2008 9:16 AM
Mariah P.

My dear eight Belles I am SOOOOOOO sorry for you only 1 filly ever won the derby and shes dead too! I miss you dearly when i get my thoroghbred dream i promise to name my first filly for you ill name her Forever Belles unless someone takes my name (PLEASE DON'T) I didn't know i got horse racing untill I searched it in my catogories on my tv I cried an screamed in my pillow afterwards. Say HI to Ruffian, Barboro and Pne Island for me. And HI HO to Ginger Punch Who won the Ruffian, Second G1in a Row last year. Bless Big Brown and don't hold to much of a grudge even though You should have won. R.I.P sister I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

19 Aug 2008 9:46 AM
Majella from Ireland

I watched my first Kentucky Derby this year. Im a huge follower of racing but seeing Eight Belles die was extremely sad. Artifical surfaces seem to be better so Im very impressed with the Breeders Cup this year.

26 Aug 2008 2:44 PM
Susan SM

Eight Belles was great young filly I am thinking of Eight Belles til I read blood horse in website and was shocked that Genuine Risk is gone. I tear out of my eyes. Eight Belles goes to see many horse friends in heaven. I love you with my entire heart RIP Eight Belles.

28 Aug 2008 12:56 AM
Sharon Barnes, Ocala, FL

My tribute for Eight Belles:


With beauty which graces only a few,

And a heart so brave, so strong and true,

A mind that knew just what to do,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

Gray filly, fresh as morning's dew,

Waiting for her watch's cue,

A sea of track - brown, not blue,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

A long-time race, it starts anew,

Just as the colts, a blurry view,

Over the waters of track you flew,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

As did the pace, your great heart grew,

A great gray ship, with sails wind blew,

A filly captain, all muscle and snew,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

Quick as a flash, the race was through,

And thus your watch, was over too,

The ship had docked, and all its crew,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

Your final watch we never knew,

Was ending, as we cheered for you,

Go down with the ship, good captains do,

The bells ring true - they ring for you.

Now comes the time to say "Adieu,"

Brave, dear heart, perfect "ideals beau,"

Eight bells shall ring in honor of you,

In Heaven, eight more -- for your life anew.

Sharon Barnes

Ocala, FL

08 Sep 2008 12:57 AM
Mariah P.

Hey guys its me again whats going on i still remember Eight Belles and Forever Belles is still on my to do list. you know i have this game about horses for my nintendo called "pony friends" and i have a thoroughbred pony (its acctully just a chestnut "perfect pony" but to me shes a thoroughbred)named Red Moon Lady and on Stallion Register Online i did a hypothetical mating for her with Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) and found out that she really exists (COOL HUH!) so now im trying to find a site where the actully plan to display mares instead of stallions and she if shes like i imagined. so if you can recomend one put it on the site. OKAY now back to Eight Belles, watching the Derby that sad day in May was heart breaking but with 2 broken ankles she still got second place so im proud of her what happended any way how did she breack both ankles at the same time? my mom keeps wondering and she kinda thinks its impossible.

              Remember to look For Forever Belles in a future Derby

          BYE GUYS!!!!!!!!

30 Sep 2008 11:31 AM

to the queen for the day i have cried so much for you and barbaro you were so beautiful i am sure you are in heaven now alone with genuine rest and winning colors and  with barbaro thank you to larry jones for working with this beautiful animal i know you loved her  

15 Oct 2008 6:22 PM

Godspeed Eight Belles, Barbaro and all the greats. Forever in our hearts and prayers.

04 Dec 2008 1:41 PM

Eight Belles, I will never forget you thundering after Big Brown. And I will never forget the sight of Big Brown loose on the track...I knew something was wrong. The camera caught you lying on the track. I caught my breath. Your untimely death truly dissolved Big Brown's victory that day. Nothing mattered but you & everyone who loved you. Run in peace & try to catch Ruffian.

26 Jan 2009 7:47 PM

Eight Belles not only won my heart, I truly believe she won the race.  She was a beautiful filly with a wonderful trainer.  It was so sad and all I can say now is that she is in Heaven with Barbaro and all of the other champs and non champs that we have lost.  It really is true that the good die young.  Fly with the Angels sweet girl.  You are loved and missed and always will have your own legacy that will always be cherished.  

14 Feb 2009 1:19 PM

Man the closer we get to May, the harder it is to not cry about Eight Belles.  I love her so much.  She was remarkable.  

17 Feb 2009 2:51 PM

I will never forget you sweeet Eight Belles................

05 Mar 2009 10:58 AM

One year after and i still miss you, pretty girl. Hope you are enjoying Heaven.

05 May 2009 6:53 PM
Mariah P.

Hey People it's me agian man I kinda angry 'cause I didn't get to watch the derby the other day I saw the horse that won He's real pretty but i dont remember his name what is it?????? Oh and no one said anything about a site that shows the pedigrees of mares instead of stallions so if you know one post it!!!! "Forever Belles" is still on my to do list if you have any sugestions on breeding thouroughbreds post 'em Thaks


16 May 2009 5:56 PM

To Beautiful Eight Belles,

My tears of joy turned to tears of sorrow!

Enjoy Heaven's endless pastures for eternity.

I hope to see you at Rainbow Bridge. My love to you and John Henry ~ he loves you, too XO

05 Jun 2009 1:44 PM

a poem for what could have been one of the greatest fillys ever

we see them run

colts full of strength

we never think of the others

triple crown longshots whot took the world by storm

you will never be forgotten

the steel gray filly with heart like her color

never to be forgotten

in the books with

winning colors

genuine risk

rachel alexandra

girls can too

10 Jun 2009 9:03 AM

I still can't believe it's been a year since she left us.  It's hard to believe.  But, she's galloping in the heavens with other super-star horses like Barbaro, Ruffian, Go for Wand, and others.  I still wish she was around to throw amazing foals.

Mariah, the horse who won the Derby this year was Mine That Bird.

15 Jul 2009 5:27 PM


His name is Mine That Bird. Rachel Alexandra Has won the kentucky Oaks and the preakness. I hope nothing bad happens to her. Eight Belles I Have pictures of your break down and it looks as though you were fighting the people. I am so sorry for you girl. I saw another horse break down yeaterday. He was a first time starter too. I have no clue what happened to him but if he is with you I hope you teah him the ropes up there. I hope you, ruffian, barbaro and all the others are having a good time up there.

24 Jul 2009 12:33 PM

i remember me and my nan wanting either the filly and big brown to win , and when they came to that finaly turn and big brown with his huge stride eatin ground i started screaming in my nans living room there he goes !!!!!!! then i see belles pulling away and i screamed nan thats the filly eight belles in second ! i will never forget it being so pumped to see them both running there hearts out to the wire ! then i heard thers a horse down on the track ..they said she could be fine its probly not something mayjor .....but then it came on the TV that it was the filly and she was euthanized and she fractured both front fetlocks nan got all pissed and that but i hate to say it i never realy cared till after i got home and was like o my god that horse made my heart beat like crazy and i screamed for her and cheared her on and now shes dead and i dont care? i hate myself for not caring but im makin up for it shes never far from my mind ..and any chance i get i tell her story ...and at the derby this year when the rang the bell realy hit me that this is what i want to do ...race thourghbred racehorses and try to make the sport safer for them ..after all without them we wouldnt have this sport! in may when the harness racehorse i part time groom won at the local track and i was in the winners circle i was so happy ...and Belles and barbaro where there with me sharing the moment my heart . without barbaro i wouldnt have found racing , with out belles i wouldnt have realized  my my dream ....having a filly win the derby and honor that win to belles ...and win the preakness and honor that in barbaro then win the triple crown adn honor that one in the name of ever racehorse from the claimers to the failed triple crown condenders! RIP BARBARO & EIGHT BELLES ! i owe my racing life to you !

20 Aug 2009 8:04 AM

I saw this race.  What a tragic ending.  RIP Eight Belles. Thoroughbreds have such a slender boned leg.  Maybe breeding to get a thoroughbred with a heavier boned leg would help reduce such tragedies.

12 Sep 2009 5:46 PM

we miss you beautiful girl!!!

28 Sep 2009 8:24 PM

Larry and family, I hope the pain of the heart is healing and Iam sure Eight Belles still has a home deep with-in your heart...I will never forget her or you and yours..they say that time heals broken hearts...and only time will tell...God Bless you and yours....

29 Nov 2009 3:24 PM

Still think about you and I am grateful to have your beautiful picture on wall my at home doing what you loved best-running!

24 May 2010 6:14 PM

I had been watching The Kentucky Derby in 2008 on .T.V. when I had heard the sad news that Eight Belles had gone down. Besides Big Brown, Eight Belles was truely a favorite of mine. When I had heard that Eight Belles had passed away, I was devastated, and crushed, I cried. I'm a horse-lover, and to me, horses are practically family, even if they're not the immediate family, they're at least part of the distant family. I ride horses, and for me, that made me realize just how special, and just how truely unique, and special all horses are. The day Eight Belles died, all I could do was cry the whole day through, but, I knew that no matter how much I, or the public was hurtin', that her immediate connections, especially her brilliant trainer, Mr. Larry Jones, were hurtin' far worse than anyone else ever could. To those that knew her, and to those that loved her, I express my deepest condolenses. We Love You, And We Miss You, Eight Belles!

29 Jun 2010 5:14 PM
lauie covert

Don't there is anything more to say--Belles you are even more beautiful now... Wind of the Gods blow between the ears of the horse-@thank you Larry -connections - who give her daily luuvvv forever.

01 Aug 2010 11:43 PM

Even though more than a year has passed, I still get choked up when I think of how brave she was in the Derby. She is and was the most amazing courageous filly ever and her memory will live on forever!

22 Sep 2010 9:50 AM

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