Let's go off the board today and talk about horses. It is Derby Week, otherwise known as the seven days leading to Saturday's running of the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby.Don't worry, even though I am a bona fide horseman (you can look it up), I am not going to waste your time and mine by trying to handicap the big race. What I am going to do is share with you some heartening horse stories that have popped up over the past week—stories that remind us of the uniquely symbolic place that horses hold in life of this nation.
Let's start here with the wonderful story of a group of horses who were saved from the slaughterhouse because the overcrowded double-decker horse trailer in which they were traveling crashed on the way to the plant. Some of the horses were killed in the accident. Others had to be put down. But the ones who survived never made it to the "killers." Here is how the Associated Press put it: "Of the horses that survived the wreck, five have been adopted, three are being sponsored as barn buddies in which the public helps pay for their upkeep, and three are still recovering from their injuries. The rest are up for adoption."
Now let's go to this story. Of course you remember the late, great Barbaro, who won last year's Kentucky Derby and then broke down a few weeks later during the Preakness Stakes. The majestic horse's life and death still continue to resonate months after his passing. Yesterday would have been his fourth birthday and his fans held a special eventin his honor at Delaware Park (where he won his first race two years ago). These FOB (Friends of Barbaro—seriously) so far, say the news reports, they have raised $250,000 to help horses and have otherwise rescued 580 from slaughter. Meanwhile, yesterday, NBC aired a one-hour documentaryabout the great horse.
But perhaps the most significant "good" horse story of the past week occurred in Washington, D.C., of all places where the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, a vital piece of federal legislation that would end the awful practice in this country of slaughtering horses for human consumption overseas. Last year, the measure passed the House of Representatives only to stall in the pre-election atmosphere that took over the Senate. This year, judging by last week's vote, the prospects look much brighter. Hopefully, the Congress can pass the bill before the first Saturday in June, when the Belmont Stakes takes place.
Me? I will be hosting a "Men against MS" Derby Party Saturday afternoon to raise money for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. And I already joined last year with a group of friends to save a standardbred horse from slaughter—his name is Boss and he now lives with a nice family. Do I care who wins the Derby? Absolutely not. Do I think I could pick out a winner from all the fine candidates? No way. Do I hope this week brings more "good" horse stories? You bet. As far as I am concerned, there will never be enough of those.