May 1, 2009 | 2
A high-profile tragedy befell horse racing a year ago when filly Eight Belles, having just finished second in the Kentucky Derby, collapsed with two broken ankles and was euthanized on the track. The horse's death at Churchill Downs, just two years after 2006 Derby winner Barbaro suffered ultimately fatal injuries in the Preakness Stakes, cast a pall over the sport's marquee event and raised a number of questions about the safety of horse racing—questions the industry says it has tried to address in the past year.
"We're doing everything possible, and that is the legacy of Eight Belles," Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), told USA Today. One major development has been a new sport-wide ban on anabolic steroids, which some fault for putting increased strain on the animals' bodies. (Eight Belles tested negative for steroids after the Derby.) The ban stemmed from the 2008 Derby and Preakness winner, Big Brown, whose trainer openly acknowledged giving the thoroughbred the steroid stanozolol. That was the same drug that Barry Bonds is alleged to have used in the book Game of Shadows, and for which fellow slugger Rafael Palmeiro tested positive.
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