The sports world has lost a champion today. It was reported that embattled Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized ending eight months of grueling operations, recoveries and setbacks.
Since wining the Kentucky Derby last year and capturing the hearts of thousands of racing fans, Barbaro was thought to have shot at horse racing’s Holy Grail – the Triple Crown. But 14-days after Barbaro’s six-and-a-half furlong victory at the Derby, an awkward step early-on at the Preakness shatters three bones in the champion’s right hind leg.
Miraculously, Barbaro recovers from a five hour surgery to repair the damage. What followed was a drama that unfolded in front of the entire nation and race fans, sports fans and animal lovers watched and cheered for the charismatic colt.
But a full recovery was not in the cards as Barbaro suffered through infections that ultimately caused his owner’s to make the decision to end his suffering.
As man’s first work-related vehicle, horses have held a special place in our lives. People that aren’t animal lovers understand and revere the bond between horse and rider. We all have a place for these noble creatures. Whether your favorite horse was Trigger or Silver (my favorite is whatever Clydesdale brings me a cold Budweiser), these creatures are a part of American history.
People loved Barbaro because he was a champion, and deserved to be remembered as any other athlete in this situation would be. Yes, he was an athlete and should be treated as one. When Barbaro went out, he did so as a champion as the Kentucky Derby winner – he etched his mark on history before earning his reputation as a fighter.
The doctors, owners and trainers that worked to help him recover should be remembered for doing all they could to help – like any team would. Ultimately, it was determined that Barbaro would never return to a normal life and possibly never be pain free.
Now the final chapter in the Barbaro story has been penned and another champion rides off into the sunset.