I've also seen thousands of horses finish their races and come back healthy.
There's been a lot of talk about pedigree, by people who really don't know what the fuck they're talking about. I'm no pedigree expert by any stretch but if you're going to single out a pedigree flaw in the horse that died, then you're being dishonest by not noticing the exact same pedigree flaw in the winner.
I wouldn't breed to Unbridled's Song (the sire of Eight Belles) if you put a gun to my head, but that's a personal preference. Not all of his foals are infirm and primed to break down. I just happen to hate him as a stallion. The major focus on pedigree has been on the appearance of Native Dancer in Eight Belles' pedigree. She is inbred 5x5 to Native Dancer and, through his son Raise A Native, 6x6. This means that, in the fifth generation of her pedigree, Native Dancer appears twice and in the sixth, he also appears twice.
Native Dancer has been singled out as a pedigree disaster because of the infirmities of his foals. Infirmities that, somehow, led Northern Dancer, who is out of a Native Dancer mare, to the winner's circle in the Derby. Native Dancer himself lost only one race in his career -- the Kentucky Derby. Native Dancer sired Dancer's Image, the only horse to be disqualified from winning the Derby; Derby and Preakness winner Kauai King; Kentucky Oaks winner Native Street.
Northern Dancer himself is one of the greatest sires the sport has ever known. His successful offspring are too numerous to mention. They really are. But they include English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II; champion European miler Sadler's Wells; Irish and Epsom Derby winner The Minstrel; Irish Derby winner El Gran Senor; Epsom Derby winner Secreto; Irish Derby winner Shareef Dancer... the list really does go on. Northern Dancer's sons, in particular, have carried his mantle at stud. Nijinsky II, El Gran Senor, The Minstrel, Nureyev and, most notably, Danzig and Sadler's Wells (the most successful sire of the 20th century after Northern Dancer).
Raise A Native, a son of Native Dancer, is the sire of Alydar and of Exclusive Native, the sire of Affirmed. He's also sired Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince, Native Partner (one of the most influential broodmares of the latter part of the century) and, most notably, Mr. Prospector, sire of Belmont winner Conquistador Cielo, Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Preakness winner Tank's Prospect, champion sprinter Gulch (sire of Derby winner Thunder Gulch, grandsire of Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given) and, for good measure, Smart Strike, the sire of last year's Horse of the Year Curlin, and champion turf horse English Channel.
I would need a whole other blog post just to talk about Mr. Prospector's influence.
What isn't mentioned is Big Brown's pedigree. Terrified of this bloodline? Then run away, chillun, because Big Brown's inbred 3x3 to Northern Dancer, or 5x5 to Native Dancer. SAME AS EIGHT BELLES.
These asshats also tried to bring Barbaro into this fold. Sure, Native Dancer shows up in Barbaro's pedigree. Once. In the fifth generation.
Oh, and by the way? Native Dancer was born in 1950. Singling out Native Dancer as the major reason Eight Belles broke down is ludicrous when you consider how many Thoroughbreds trace back to him. For every break-down, I can name you two successful, sound racehorses.
I'll stop now with the pedigree B.S. I promise.
Like the entertainment industry, racing is a business. If something is successful, it will be repeated. It's impossible to deny the influence Native Dancer has had on pedigree. I mean, I didn't even talk about Raise A Native and Mr. Prospector. Dictating to the people in racing that they don't know what the fuck they're doing and aren't at all concerned about the horses is ridiculous, and reminiscent of how people try to dictate the same kind of bullshit to the entertainment industry. For some reason, people who don't know anything know best.
I know just enough about racing to know that I'm no expert. If people would try very hard not to be ignorant, maybe they'd see how much care is given to these horses. Really, you have no idea. They live better than we do. They're monitored around the clock. And when something happens to one of them, NOBODY FEELS WORSE THAN THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE WITH THESE HORSES EVERY DAY. Not a viewer, not a PETA member. NOBODY.
What happened to Eight Belles was a tragedy. But the filly wasn't sent into the starting gate hurt. She wouldn't have been there if she'd even sneezed. That leads me back to heart. And heart is why people love this sport. All you have to do to understand heart is to watch Affirmed battle Alydar, or Personal Ensign run down Winning Colors. Horses don't run because they're forced to. They run because they love to. Believe me, if a thousand pound animal decided he didn't want to run, nothing you could do would make him.
When Secretariat died, veterinarians discovered that his heart was substantially larger than that of most Thoroughbreds, which led people to wonder if his giant heart had contributed to his greatness. Maybe it also helped to explain how he was never able to duplicate that greatness in his foals. There's another large heart theory involving Nureyev, a son of Northern Dancer and Big Brown's dam's sire. Apparently, Nureyev also had an extraordinarily large heart that he's passed on to some of his foals. Because Big Brown so resembles Nureyev, the thought is that he's inherited this trait.
Kind of cool if true, and maybe it bodes well for a successful Triple Crown for Big Brown.
NON-HORSE PEOPLES, START READING HERE:
Heart was also represented in a more fun, escapist way. Heart features prominently Iron Man, which is probably the best superhero movie I've ever seen. Not only is this movie a fucking blast, but there's a lot going on subtextually. Tony Stark's arc reactor is where his heart should be. Tony Stark the genius essentially uses that genius and upgrades his heart. Having reverse-engineered the organ into the thing that keeps him alive, he finally understands it on a micro level. With the Iron Man suit, he understands it on a macro level. He knows what the heart can do. But he still underestimates himself until he sees, in Obbadiah, what the heart can do when used by a villain.
He discards that first heart when he makes a better one. Pepper returns it to him, reminding him that it's important even if it's no longer state-of-the-art, and that it's not just a cool little device. It's HIM. When his heart is stolen by Obbadiah (seriously, if you name your kid Obbadiah Stain, you're just asking for trouble), he recognizes the value of his prototype. It goes above and beyond for him. And there's a lovely callback when the heart seems to have stopped but then it flickers back to life. The audience hears Pepper call Tony's name, which echoes what happens when Tony's being tortured and the reactor shorts out.
I love Iron Man because he's a superhero who isn't bitten by a spider, who doesn't come from another planet, who hasn't simply mutated. He's just a dude with a giant brain. Tony Stark finds a way to fully realize his superhero attribute -- his genius. Smart IS sexy and powerful. But behind all of that, he's still mortal, and he still has to deal with the legacy of his company and with the others who have a stake in it. Without being preachy, the movie touches on the military-industrial complex and the status quo that goes with it. Because if you change it, what happens to that status quo? If Tony Stark decides to stop making weapons, that affects millions of people. He doesn't seem to realize that until later in the movie. He thinks it'll be easy. Hey, his name's on the building, right? He should be able to do what he wants. But he's allowed himself to be blind all these years. He's lied to himself. He's hidden behind that playboy exterior. Iron Man, the externalization of who he can be, breaks him out of that.
He's going to fight not only to save the world, but to save his company, too.
And just to nerd out for a minute... Nick Fury!! NICK. FURY. Too cool. I can't wait for the sequel.
Iron Man did get me thinking about one thing, though. Female superheroes. Are there truly any who stand on their own?
I said I'd get to some comments, so I'll pack 'em in here.
What?! No moral outrage (like your pal the Artful Writer has) at Patric's outing of those horrible and self-serving ficores?
I'm outraged. How's that?? Eh, I don't think there's any big discussion that needs to happen here. It's a fairly easy call to say that the e-mail was completely the wrong thing to do. I haven't checked out Artful Writer in ages. Is Craig pretending that he came up with the outrage all on his own?
Just because I like you, I've set my DVR to record Moonlight (my first time. ever.) And since my neighbor has one of those nifty Nielson boxes attached to her 60 inch big screen, I've convinced her to do the same. Even if neither of us actually watches TV on Friday (it is date night after all) we can still set our DVR/TiVo to record and help out a pal.
Well, shucks! Thanks!! I think it worked a bit. The show seemed to do okay last week, so we're still on the bubble. This Friday's the all-important one, though. If it does the same numbers, it has an excellent shot to come back.
Working AD was a little miffed with my proclamation on TeeVee directors:
I agree that television is a writers' medium, and that you really need to have a good script before anything else can happen. The pilots of "West Wing", "Miami Vice" and "Moonlighting" are great pieces of work - first because they are terrific scripts, and then because they were executed so well. I agree that many TV directors are jobbed in, but the good ones can take a good script into an excellent show. Every series has the director that the producers, cast and crew look forward to - just because that's the person that usually does a good episode.
I think directors have a lot to add. Absolutely. But they're adding TO something. That's not to take away from what they do but when someone yammers on about how the pilot directors are THE auteurs of TeeVee, I gotta speak up. Because that's just stupid. And what I was trying to say was, there doesn't HAVE to be one person responsible for something. My biggest issue with pilot directors is the same issue I have with feature writers who create shows and then take off. They're getting a pretty big chunk of the budget every week for doing fuck-all. That's money that can't be spent on production or staff. I think this is one of the things that's really fucking TeeVee. And if you have a Barry Sonnenfeld who hoovers up money and time, I think it may look pretty, but it's counterproductive to making TeeVee.
Currently, I believe you've been working with David Barrett (the producing director) on "Moonlight". Have you found the work to be positive?
I haven't been able to work with him directly yet and I hope there's a season two so I will. A good producing director is a huge asset to a series, especially in this age of smaller staffs.
Margaret, thanks for the nice words! I will spend that quarter of a penny wisely. Hope you're still enjoying the show!
Edouard wanted to know what I thought of Lost and Battlestar Galactica. Lost is... okay. I mean, I'm still watching it, so that's something, right? I like the flash-forwards a lot but what I don't like is having to wait until the very end of this show to really figure out what I think about it. Galactica has been exceptional this year. The actors have stepped it up a lot and the revelations have been fantastic. The only thing I worry about with Galactica is that it gets a little confusing at times, sort of short-handed in a weird way.
Edouard also wondered:
The "Butcher Boy" song at the end of "Click" was awesome ("I know who you could be")! Great choice that can only be yours. Nice to see you had some input this time beside writing the episode. Did you see it through editing and post ?
I wish! I love being in editing but when you're freelance, that's not your job. Sort of like being an opening act. Yes, the Butcher Boy song was written into the script and I'm thrilled it made the show. The Maroon 5 song, of course, was not my choice. Do not blame me. I obviously know better, as I've made lots of fun of them in the past.
All this time I thought the derby posts where a metaphor for how Hollywood works... but you really are talking about horsies running in a circle, aren't you?
Heh. Poor baby. It's the Triple Crown so after the first Saturday in June, things will return to normal. And really, there's not a lot to talk about TeeVee wise yet. Let's see what next week's upfronts bring, and whether or not the actors are going to strike.
So, Beth puts out a contract, and then goes to dinner. PTSD? That seems the only conclusion that would justify her shift to the dark side.
It's this new thing we're trying -- character complexity, wherein a character decides he or she will do anything for another character, regardless of the consequences. We thought it would be neat to give it a shot. You don't see it very much on TeeVee, so I can see what it confused you.
Colonel John looked so completely disinterested that I didn't bet him, although Tiznow used to do the same thing and then, going around the final turn would go, "hey, there are horses in front of me; don't like it" and power through. But I'm glad I passed on CJ this time around.
He got kinda slammed coming out of the gate, along with Pyro, and as usually happens with a lot of these horses, he had no idea where he was during the running of the race. They REALLY need to cut the field down to 14. I'm sick to death of horses running up the track because of traffic and coming back strong in the Preakness.
Big Brown surprised me. I bet on him, but didn't think he'd keep his head together enough to pull it off.
He surprised me, too. I didn't think he'd really get the distance and with only three starts, I thought he would be disoriented. I think he may just be a freak.
I'm interested to see how he'll do in the Preakness, if his feet aren't too sore for him to run.
I know Dutrow's worried about the two weeks, but come on. He's the only trainer who blew his horse out close to the race. Let's keep that old-school stuff going!
i guess i wasn't clear, because that was exactly not my point. i was saying there's a bunch of people would love to be in your position because they love to write and create and aren't getting paid to do so now.
Well... technically, I'm not being paid to do it, either, seeing as how I've just filed for unemployment!
Fabulous Moonlight episode Kay!!! Well done!
As for the Derby, boy oh boy am I impresssed. Big Brown accomplished a feat for the ages. It's a real shame about Belles...a freak accident, just a totally freaking accident.
Didn't you know that she was inbred to Native Dancer and that's what caused it??
What sort of buzz (if any) is going around Hollytown with regards to new shows coming down the pipeline? And please don't tell me more "reality" crap! Any possiblity of reviving Journeyman or New Amsterdam?
Journeyman's gone. Don't know about New Amsterdam, but I would think it's gone. Honestly, I haven't heard a thing! The strike screwed up pilot season so I haven't heard any buzz at all. There are usually staffing meetings going on even during pilot production but either nobody had time, or they did the meetings and we just didn't get any!
Since upfronts are next week, you would think there'd be some buzz but I haven't heard a thing. And I've only been focusing on Moonlight's numbers!!
Kay, I have a Millennium question. A season three question. (Sorry.) What did the title Saturn Dreaming of Mercury mean? I've never seen an explanation.
I have NO idea! Some kind of astrological thing? I really don't know.
np -- Oasis, I Wanna Live In A Dream (oh, yeah, NEW DEMOS, BABY!!!!!)