Friday, May 9, 2008
Additional test results for Eight Belles to take at least two more weeks
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It will be at least two weeks before additional information is known about what caused Eight Belles to breakdown in the Kentucky Derby, the filly's owner said Friday.
In addition to the autopsy, there will be routine postrace drug testing and further medication tests requested by Eight Belles' trainer, Larry Jones.
A lab at the University of Kentucky has begun to examine the body of the horse that was euthanized following her runner-up finish in the Derby. Owner Rick Porter said researchers haven't shared any information except that both front ankles were completely broken.
Porter says they've submitted blood and tissue samples for further examination, but it will take at least two weeks to get back full results of the necropsy -- or animal autopsy. Trainer Larry Jones has insisted those tests will prove the filly was not on steroids.
"They're going to check her like they did not check any of the other 19 horses in the Derby," Jones said. "What we're being accused of is all legal in the racing industry, but it attacks me personally because I don't do the things they're saying we've done."
Aside from exonerating the horse's handlers from suspicions about illegal drugs, Porter said he hopes the necropsy will get to the bottom of what caused the breakdown. The horse seemed to be healthy when crossing the finish line, but then collapsed about a quarter-mile later.
Among the possibilities, Porter said, is that her legs may have somehow crossed, or that she took a bad step or had an aneurysm.
"I think I could swallow it a little more if I knew she had an aneurism and just collapsed," he said.
Also Friday, the racing industry was continuing to adjust following the firestorm of attention generated by the death of Eight Belles. The board of directors for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association held a teleconference to discuss policies on safety and begin to generate improvements.
"It is clear that the status quo is not an option and we need to bring a renewed sense of urgency to these initiatives," NTRA president Alex Waldrop said. "Our fans and industry stakeholders expect nothing less."