Sunday, March 18, 2012

Milazzo -- a real live happy racehorse

Milazzo raced again today and Steve and I made our way down to Golden Gate Fields on a clear, cold and breezy day to watch him run. We haven't seen him in person since before he really started training, back when he was a big cuddly teddy bear of a horse. His run today was good, and it reminds me that some horses really love what they do--despite what P.E.T.A. might think. Yes, folks, there is a tiny rant coming.

She's pointing the camera at us, dude
Milazzo looks a little different these days from when we first met him. He is now 17+ hands of racing fit Thoroughbred and is hard to miss as he comes bouncing along the track on the way to the paddock before the race. Actually, he's plain hard to miss anywhere. And he knows it. "That lady is taking our picture," he whispered to his groom before he know who I was. Once he figured out I was part of his herd--or at least an admirer with good taste--then he just posed.
"Ohai, make sure you get my good side. Luckily, that's every side,"
He won his last race quite handily and had a 5-furlong work last week that clocked in at just over a minute and gave Devon "goosebumps." But--as those in the world of Thoroughbred racing know--every race is a new adventure. Actually, that doesn't apply just to racing--every day with a horse is a brand new adventure. Just ask Calabar.

Milazzo didn't break as well today and that cost him some ground, but at the tail end of the race he made up a length at least with (maybe) three big strides, finished third and was still picking up steam at the pole--another furlong and he'd have had the race. He then spent his entire cool down looking back at the track, trying to out-pace the hot-walker and doing his best to convince us to take him back up to run.

Real life on the backside--love and green scarves.
This is a horse that knows his job and loves it. Loves it. This is a horse--a Thoroughbred racehorse--with owners and trainers that love him and take fantastic care of him. He was not stressed today, he was not overly-anxious. He ran well, he ran comfortably and even though he didn't win, he got love and affection and good care. And by everything I saw, he'll be ready to go again as soon as he's asked.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over the HBO series, Luck, and the horses that died during filming. It has, of course, brought more criticism of the racing industry. The picture above is a real face of the racing industry. Racing is public, racing is televised. It is not--as pointed out on this Retired Racehorse post--the only venue where there is abuse and it is not the only place bad things happen. Let's not forget it is also a place where good people love good horses and do good and wonderful things with those horses. Horses that were bred to run, bred to reach out and fly above the earth with grace, power and beauty.

I am not a Pollyanna. I know bad things happen to a lot of racehorses (and other horses), but I also know there are good people on the track and horses that absolutely love what they are doing. Milazzo is one of them. Calabar was one of them for a little while, too. They are both blessed to have had owners and trainers that do love their horses and will take care of them on the track and then try to find good homes for them after it's all over.

Demonizing racing really isn't the answer. Just coming up with a realistic conversation isn't the answer, either, but it will sure as heck get us a lot closer than closing our eyes, sticking our fingers in our ears and saying, "La la la la la."


Natalie Keller Reinert said...

*stands up and applauds*

Fabulous post, and congrats to this handsome young man on a job well done!

You know how people complain that there's never anything "good" in the news? "All the news is always bad news," folks like to say. "They don't report on anything GOOD happening."

That applies here.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

It's a struggle to be a fan of horse racing. I've been one for almost forty years now.

I would never had ridden for the first time, started riding again later in life, or become the proud owner of an ottb, if I hadn't gotten hooked on thoroughbreds as a little girl who watched the 1973 triple crown series.

I truly believe that many, many thoroughbreds are very happy and love what they do. You couldn't get a Secretariat, Ruffian or Zenyatta if they didn't. It is beyond thrilling to watch the really good ones run. It brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

Yet there are also the ongoing issues of over-breeding, mistreatment, drugs and greed that plague the industry.

Yes - bad things happen to horses in all equine disciplines. The big money surrounding horse racing magnifies the problems - makes them more prevalent and often they are publicized.

When a sport depends on having an audience to follow, watch and wager for it's success - and it is well documented that horse racing's fan base is shrinking - it is incumbent on those involved in the industry to behave with integrity and go the extra mile regarding the care and welfare of the equine athletes.

I know there are many good trainers and owners out there, doing the best by their horses. But more needs to be done for thoroughbreds, especially after their track career ends.

The wealth of positive press about ottbs lately is encouraging. I sincerely hope that the same can be said regarding on-track tbs soon.

(sorry for the novel)

Jessica Boyd said...

Natalie, thank you! I try (and as I know you're familiar with) get slammed for supporting the evil empire. Oh, well.

CFS, I hear you. I am hoping all the focus--even the negative stuff--helps all horse, not just racehorses. AND improves the adoption rates of OTTBs!!

lmel said...

Good post--as you say, racing has its good and bad, and I hope more information will get more OTTB's, finished with racing, adopted and into happy homes like our 3.

Wendy said...

GREAT post! And nice horse! I won't slam you for liking the evil empire. I'm right with you! Now try posting a story on long reining and watch the bashing begin... Yow! Life on the internet.

Keep up your good work.

I remember going on the backside of Golden Gate once to see Lost In The Fog. It was just a week before he passed. I didn't realize how close to the bay the track was until then and I'll never forget the presence LITF had that day. He scarfed down the Mrs. Pasture horse treats they kept on hand for their horses. Yes - treats for their racehorses. :)

Unknown said...

he's a gorgeous boy! (I love them big and tall!). Happy to see reports coming from GG Fields, going to follow along with all your posts!