Q: So, the horse who was about to contend for the Triple Crown has suddenly retired?
A: That’s right. I’ll Have Another is out of the game.
Q: What is the Triple Crown?
A: The Triple Crown is something that no horse has won since 1978. It is a set of three races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. I’ll Have Another had successfully won the Derby and the Preakness and was headed to the Belmont when the news hit.
Q: When you say a horse is retired, what does this mean, exactly?
A: That’s a good question. Some horses are lucky and retire to nice farms with names like Old Friends Equine. Other horses are unlucky and become featured players on HBO’s “Luck.”
Q: Is that a euphemism?
A: Yes. For a while, horse slaughterhouses were not allowed in the United States. But last year President Obama signed a bill that for the first time in years included funding for the Food and Drug Administration to inspect horse slaughterhouses. For years, this funding has been left out, which essentially banned the practice. No inspection, no meat sale. This meant that if you wanted to slaughter a horse for consumption, you had to send it to Canada or Mexico first, or get Don Corleone very upset with its owner. But now that seems to be changing.
Q: To be fair, in many places, eating horse is not particularly odd, and the meat is said to have a nice flavor. And horses don’t get mad cow disease.
A: I thought that was sort of implied by the name “mad cow disease.”
Q: Although this is never quite what I pictured when it came to horse retirement. I sort of thought they went to a magical stud farm where nubile fillies leaped and frisked about begging for their attention, and there were waterfalls and rainbows everywhere.
A: You thought that? Didn’t you ever read any story involving a horse? “Black Beauty”? “Animal Farm”? The one thing that unifies stories with horses in them is that they tend to end badly for the horses. Hey, it’s difficult to keep tabs on this. Some racetracks have policies in place to prevent horses being sold to buyers with plans to kill them, but once you sell a horse to a nice animal farm, if the farm turns around and sells poor Boxer to a horse-killer, there is little the track can do about it.
Q: So what’s going to happen to I’ll Have Another?
A: It’s been said that he’s run his last race.
Q: Is that a euphemism?
Q: It’s just that absolutely everything you say about horse retirement sounds like a euphemism. “I’ll Have Another has run his last race and is retiring to a nice farm, but first he will lead a parade,” sounds like what I told my daughter when I flushed her gerbil.
A: You mean goldfish.
Q: It took a lot of flushing.