I preface the following with this: Bob Baffert is not the villain. He is of course a villain, but he is no more or less so than the average trainer. If he has more kills, it’s because he has more horses. No, this is about horseracing itself, not the individuals working in it.
That said, Baffert’s day yesterday, and more to the point, his reactions on that day further underscore the obscenity of calling this, viewing this, talking about this as just another sport. Baffert, we know, lost one of his charges in the Preakness undercard, when 3-year-old Havnameltdown broke down in the 6th race and was euthanized on the Pimlico track.
Baffert then tweeted this: “We are just devastated.” He went on to say, “It is something that is disheartening. I feel so bad for that horse….” And finally: “It’s the worst feeling, and we grieve. We do grieve when these things happen. There is nothing worse than coming back and the stall is empty. He is a nice horse. … It’s sickening. I am in shock.”
Later, of course, those “feelings” were turned upside down, as Baffert “won” the Preakness itself, his 17th Triple Crown triumph.
Amazing how some people can recover from “shock” and “grief” so fast, huh?
Imagine had this happened in any real sport – you know, ones played by autonomous, consenting humans. Imagine, for instance, if Patrick Mahomes had died in the 1st Quarter of the Super Bowl. What do you think the odds would have been of the game continuing? And by some miracle if it had, do you think there would have been any celebration in the Chiefs’ locker room after the win? Please. As I said, what happened yesterday in Baltimore, what happens at tracks across America every day, is an utter obscenity.