134th Kentucky Derby: Pomp and Tragic Circumstance

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IMay 4, 2008

Dutrow's Big Win Overshadowed By Tragedy

by John Fennelly  / Senior Writer / Special to Bleacher Report

When Big Brown made his move at the top of the stretch in yesterday's Kentucky Derby, the die was cast for the rest of the field.

The undefeated grandson of the legendary Danzig shifted gears and dusted the competition, giving jockey Kent Desormeaux his third Derby win and veteran New York trainer Rick Dutrow his first.

When the big bay stallion charged past the finish line and Millionaire's Row with filly Eight Belles five lengths behind his flailing tail, it was the moment the massive crowd would always remember.

What happened next, unfortunately, will be the moment they will never forget.

Eight Belles galloped behind Big Brown for another quarter of a mile before both her ankles inexplicably broke, bringing her and jockey Gabriel Saez to the ground.

Saez would rise to his feet, but the granddaughter of Unbridled would not.

The brave filly's injuries were fatal: Barbaro times two. Her shaken trainer, Larry Jones, told reporters that Eight Belles could not stand. The veterinarians' only choice was to put her down humanely. 

The race left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I was glad to see Rick Dutrow, who had labored many harsh winters at Aqueduct, finally drink from the big cup. After years of heartbreaking setbacks and personal issues and tragedies, Dutrow would finally get the break of a lifetime.

Conversely, I was saddened at the site of Jones, still outwardly optimistic and hopeful. He was still singing the praises of his game, fallen filly.

No matter what Jones said, everyone knew his heart was broken.