Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Memories of Race Horses Past

Paparouna also known as Poppy

I love horses and horse racing. When I was young I read nothing but horse novels and dreamed of learning to ride. Horse love got me into quilting but that's a story for another time. I use to be more addicted to the sport of racing than I am now. Once upon another lifetime I could spout off racing stats and quote pedigrees like scripture. I was the only African American teenager I knew who could read and use the Daily Racing Form.

About eleven years ago I was involved in a group called Virtual Owner Partnership where for 500.00 ( yes 500.00 ) a person could participate in the ownership of a racehorse. We were a group of folks who came from all walks of life to indulge in our obsession via the Internet. It was one of the most interesting thing I've ever done.

The first horse I was a part of was a wonderful filly named Papaprouna. Paparouna was a beautiful flaming red daughter of the great Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, a grand daughter of the immortal Secretariat. The only reason our cash poor group got her was because during the auction a bird pooped on the head of the other high bidder and by the time he came back from washing the poop out his hair our group had her. There was almost a fist fight in the parking lot about that.

Paparouna was big ( 17 hands), strong and freakishly fast. Fillies and colts from the Unbridled bloodlines tend to come that way, they also tend to be rather unsound. During her racing career Paparouna was constantly sore or coming up lame. As a three year old she was on track to be nominated for the Kentucky Oaks (the filly's version of the Kentucky Derby) . Unfortunately she came up sore before the big race. As bad as we wanted to go to Kentucky- I mean it is the dream of a lifetime for any owner- our group had enough sense and horsemanship to send our baby back to the farm to rest and recover. Other horses in racing aren't so lucky. Horse racing in America tends to be about money and speed even it hurts the horse.

We raced Poppy for a while and then sold her to become a broodmare. While we received a lot of money for Poppy, several of the small time partners, including me, couldn't help but think that we were helping to past those unsound genes to the next generation.

Perhaps you have heard by now of the filly Eight Belles who shattered both front legs after finishing second in this years Kentucky Derby. It was a blessing that the camera was on the winner Big Brown when it happened. Eight Belles was huge, strong and freakishly fast and it didn't surprise me when I checked her pedigree that she was out of those fragil Unbridled's Although the winner of the Kentucky Derby is a great story, I'm still heartsick over Eight Belles. May she rest in peace in the great lush pastures of the sky.
Horse racing needs to do some deep soul searching. Information about this year's Kentucky Derby and the Eight Belles tragedy is available on NPR.

1 comment:

sherlonya said...

Wow, Karen. That was interesting. I'll have to check out that article. Your passion for horses came leaking out with every word.