The Preakness Stakes is one of three prestigious races that make up the Triple Crown series of races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Horses that manage to win all three are famous: you’ve heard of Citation? Whirl-away? Secretariat? This year’s Preakness was held in Baltimore. Writing of the tragic deaths in the Allied News, John Morlino’s article of June 7 illustrates “our conflicted relationship with animals,” by pointing out that people who race horses tacitly accept the fact that horses may die early deaths from what Morlino calls “transgressions,” crimes committed against horses. Here is Morlino’s list of human crimes that contribute to horse injuries and too often, premature death. They are “greed, corruption, performance-enhancing and pain-masking drugs, and breeding practices.” Homeboykris won the first contest of the day but died from what looked like heart failure, said those who performed the necropsy. He collapsed on his way back to the barn and had to be euthanized. Pramedya tried to run in the fourth race but suffered a fractured leg that Morlino describes as “dangling grotesquely in front of her.” She never made it back to the barn, but had to be euthanized on the track.
The reasons for these deaths? When asked why Pramedya died, her owner, Roy Jackson, said “We haven’t fully digested the whole thing,” but “life goes on.” It was found that Homeboykris had an elevated level of dexamethasone in his blood, said the Maryland Racing Commission. The accepted level of pictograms per milliliter is 5, but Homeboykris, nine years old, had 30.
Much more research is needed into the dangers of racing older horses and perhaps rewriting the rules that govern the acceptable age of a race horse to run.
Thank you, Fathom Events, for making it possible to see the National Theatre International broadcast of the play Frankenstein. The play starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternated the roles of The Monster and The Scientist every other night. There are excellent reasons for this practice that you can see explained if you research the play and its writer, Nick Dear, online. There you’ll find discussions about the challenges the distinguished British company faced in preparing and presenting this play, and doing justice to Mary Shelley’s novel. On the evening I saw the play in a Nashville theater, Cumberbatch was starring as The Monster.
The play is the result of the efforts of highly trained, highly creative, and deadly serious actors, writers, and a host of others who were intent on showing us, the audience, that the old story of Frankenstein can have new meaning. It was a real delight that I had not experienced for too long being engaged with a play again, even though it was photographed and not on a stage with the live actors “in the room.” Most of us going to see this play or other Fathom Events would never be able to see them as audiences watching the live action on stage. Even though we were watching a filmed performance, the unrolling of the story was so absorbing I didn’t even want to look away from the screen. The story was presented in a new way while remaining true in all important respects to the novel and what Shelley was telling her readers. The theater-goer is shocked into a heightened awareness of Shelley’s conception of man and monsters too. In the story, she is saying that man and monster are alike. The playwright Nick Dear opened up the novel into a play that affects all of us and makes us think about what we’ve seen in the play and in the world. I wish that I could have gone to the National Theatre to see it presented, where I could have experienced the actors at fairly close range using all their powers of magic and stagecraft to open our eyes to the truths presented. I also wish I could then have gone straight to a discussion group elsewhere in that famous complex and hear what everyone else had to say. The way it was presented, using new stage technology, opened my eyes, and I remember vividly, for instance, the birth of The Monster and the fabulous train representing new technology chugging into the scene. When you go to see the play, you will be called upon to accept things you have probably never imagined about the old story, and you will find yourself changed permanently as you think about what you have seen and the ways in which the theater, that ancient institution, has changed in putting on plays. I urge everyone reading this to see the play. The Fathom Events web site can show you where it is being presented as well as the other riches of its other offerings.
I haven’t written about soring horses for too long in this blurb. But I haven’t stopped writing about them. I have finished four novels now. All have horses in the plots; they are often in trouble. I had hoped when I did some new research about soring, I would have found some progress in the fight to stop this torture of horses. It’s still going on. It is hard to imagine why humans who think of themselves as good people commit this crime. A person I met just today who has plenty of experience to make this statement, told me she thinks it has to do with their fragile egos. It’s “mastery over a large animal” that is behind soring. Open the link below to read more.
“The Ashworth Mysteries,” book four in the Connie Holt Mystery Series, is here. Fans of Connie and her adventures in Virginia horse country will meet their friends from the first three novels plus other intriguing characters, including Steve Irby, a new farrier and failed country music singer from Nashville, and new doctor, Dick Fairfax. Ashworth historical characters and events are here too.
Like to know more? Here’s a brief introduction to the novel.
“The Ashworth Mysteries” is the story of an annus horribilis in the fortunes of Cary McCutcheon and his wife Pam of Bedford, Virginia. In this newest story, Cary and his wife have an unusual problem with Pam’s aunt, Pamela Ashworth, a still beautiful and mysterious woman who lives in Charlottesville. Pamela needs help from Pam and Cary. She is suffering from a heart ailment and her finances have long been in need of a review. Good business dictates that the very old Virginia family of the Ashworths be investigated before its financial situation is analyzed. But there are mysteries about the family that have never been brought to light.
Until recently, Cary and Pam had intended to work with Pam’s aunt themselves in an intensive investigation that might take six months or more. But they didn’t figure on Pam having a bad riding accident. At the beginning of the story, Pam is thrown from her horse in a jumping accident. Unconscious, Pam is transported by Pegasus, the University of Virginia helicopter, to the hospital. Depressed by the accident, Cary fails to realize he has serious business problems. Connie Holt and the rest of Cary’s staff are disillusioned and worried. A most important conversation between Steve Irby and Cary becomes the catalyst for Cary’s realization that everyone in his horse community is in trouble–including him. His particular crisis includes financial problems, the real possibility of losing his beloved thoroughbred Darkling Lord, fewer customers for his insurance business and thoroughbred breeding and sales, and the realization that he has a closed business and farm in which much of the community isn’t involved. He’s been caught in the business model of his father that is no longer viable.
In this dilemma, Cary and Pam give the problem of Pamela Ashworth to Connie. She will live in luxury at Ashworth Hall in Charlottesville with the famous lady and use her best investigative skills to find out the truth about the Ashworth family. Why did the family fail to flourish during the early years of Virginia? Who were earlier relatives who are associated with the name Ashworth? What are the facts about Pamela Ashworth and her life as a singer? What is the true history of Pam whose life story is still open to question? While Cary and his wife try to find solutions for their complex business problems, Connie will be working on the history of the family. No one realizes that the information Connie takes back to Bedford will be devastating and raise the inevitable question in cases like this: should certain family secrets never be divulged?