Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Steeplechasin' and NASCAR
At times I have referred to Steeplechase racing as "the NASCAR of horse racing." While spectators at Steeplechase races neither go for the wrecks nor relish them, wrecks are fairly common. Some auto racing fans love the wrecks and I can admit to my personal excitement in 1989 when attending the Indy 500 and Emerson Fittipladi pulled an inside move on turn 3 which sent Al Unser,Jr. into the wall right in front of my seats.
But when we see a horse tumble at a jump and the jockey launched like a sling-shotted G.I. Joe, we gasp and hope for the best. These photos show the bang-up that occurred at the beginning of the Virginia Gold Cup race this passed Saturday. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt...horse or rider. But this accident underscores the excitment and inherent danger in Steeplechae racing.
A few years ago at the Pennasylvania Hunt Cup Races there was a nasty tumble at a jump right in front of our tailgate. My daughter Courtney, who rides, works caring for horses and is a dedicated equestrian and horse lover, burst into tears. It was hard for me to explain what was happening in a manner that would allay her fear and sadness. I did my best. The injured horse was loaded into an equine ambulance that day. I learned later from a trainer friend that the horse was put down due to injuries. The jockey was hospitalized.
This weekend the Steward will call "jockeys up" at the Willowdale Steeplechase in Willowdale, PA and next weekend the Radnor Hunt races will entertain a crowd of about 25,000. Here's hoping for safe trips for all jockeys and their mounts.
Photos from Nat'l. Steeplechase Assn.