When six-year-old Irish Thoroughbred St Nicholas Abbey, one of the most celebrated racehorses on the planet, broke his pastern while training in July, the prognosis was bleak. But not to fear, if a horse is valuable enough – and with huge stud fees on the horizon, he is – extraordinary measures are undertaken. Extraordinary measures here are defined as 20 screws, 2 plates, a steel pin, and a bone graft.
Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest Thoroughbred breeder and St Nicholas Abbey’s latest guardian, released this video on the procedure. But don’t be fooled by the manipulative background music, to Coolmore, this horse is but a potential revenue stream, a simple asset. And should the repair fail, boardroom tears, if any, will be shed for money lost, not because another beautiful, sensitive creature has perished. Like Barbaro before him, and in contrast to the thousands of plebeian Thoroughbreds who break and die on tracks each year, St Nicholas Abbey is being forced to endure an extended suffering. And all so that a new set of men can profit on his head (or semen, in this case).
St Nicholas Abbey’s “misfortune,” of course, has inspired a groundswell of racing-fan support. Saving a racehorse, this racehorse, is a feel-good tale. But I cannot help but wonder why these same well-wishers fall silent when horseracing sends its refuse – by the tens of thousands annually – to be strung up and slashed. Whatever the explanation, however, the horseplayer should know this: No amount of love and sympathy for the rare St Nicholas Abbey can wash the slaughterhouse blood from your hands.