Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thoroughbred breeding

Last night I blogged about Eight Belles's injuries and death at the Kentucky Derby. That wasn't the first I had heard about Eight Belles, though — I saw her mentioned Friday night in a The Wall Street Journal article about Thoroughbred breeding.

The article says that 75 percent of all Thoroughbreds are descendants of Native Dancer, a champion racing horse in the early 1950s. Some of them are related to Native Dancer on both sides, which — although the article stopped short of saying the word — means inbreeding.

This alone ought to send up red flags in everyone's minds — that the people who breed, train, and own race horses are so determined to win that they are willing to inbreed the animals in order to do it.

Ironically, the article talks about how narrowing the gene pool has led to more problems with foot and leg injuries. I don't know if Eight Belles was also a descendant of Native Dancer, but the article's warning certainly seems, in retrospect, like a bad omen.

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