Monday, May 05, 2008
Post Cincinnati Blues
The sun bounced off the magnificent city skyline as I drove from Kentucky into Cincinnati. What a beautiful view and a thrilling downhill drive across the river and into the city!
Found a very cool vegetarian restaurant called Myra's Dionysus. Now how could a vegetarian theatre person resist such a place? The menu was packed with enticing items. I settled on the gado gado and oh -- it was yummy and spicy! I'm so glad I have three more weekends in Cincinnati scheduled for next year so that I can explore more of Myra's menu.
No theatre-going this time. The selections on offer were just not as appealing as lolling about in a luxury hotel room in a humongous bed reading some books I've been wanting to finish for a long time. (reviews to appear here soon).
Saturday morning, up and ready to depart for conference meetings, I noticed a couple dressed to the hilt, her with an enormous hat. Ah ha, must be Kentucky Derby bound, which reminded me that it might be fun to watch it while dining at the hotel restaurant sports lounge after the meetings for the day concluded, which I did -- only to choke on my meal as the poor filly Eight Belles "broke down" as they say.
Later, I went online to read more about what happened, as the NBC coverage was stunningly insensitive to the moment. The celebrations and the corporate sponsorship were given just about all of the post-race airtime except for a small segment in which we heard the not very expert announcers first speculate that Eight Belles may have had a heart condition, only to be interrupted by a brusque veterinarian report that she broke both ankles and had to be euthanized -- and now back to the winner's circle.
Online chat and comment boards brought out a number of interesting points about the current state of horse racing. Thoroughbreds these days are being bred for light bone structure and heavy muscles, not for soundness. Horses in the US are forced to race too early. A number of comments zeroed in on the age of the horses, stating that two years old is too early to be pushing these horses to run full out as their bones aren't fully developed.
"The sport is at least as inhumane as greyhound racing and only a couple of steps removed from animal fighting, " is the way one NYT columnist puts it. Read the rest of his article here.
I must confess I have enjoyed watching the horses run -- in the past -- but I never liked seeing the jockeys whip them. I also don't care for all the assumptions that people place upon the animals, humanizing them by ascribing words such as "heroic," "gallant" and so on. Eight Belles was a beautiful creature and deserved to live out her life in a pasture somewhere where she could run if she so pleased.
On Sunday, I departed Cincinnati after a very successful conference, feeling good about the year's work, and looking forward to the following year. But as luck would have it, on the drive home I started to feel rather wretched and by the time I got home (in record time -- I really stepped on the pedal this time!) I was shivering with fever and starting to feel a nasty illness come over me. My break down wasn't even close to tragic, and I know I'll be up and about again soon. But still hovering over my illness is the thought of that poor horse and the conditions that lead to her death. I'm not watching the Preakness or the Belmont, I know that much.