The Preakness will have a filly in the field this Saturday. Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, will race against the big boys and I can't wait! A filly in the field always makes a race just that much more thrilling, especially if she wins. When Rags to Riches took the Belmont Stakes two years ago I literally was so excited that I ran circles around the diningroom table trying to calm myself down.
Still, despite the promise of glory, I can't help but think of Eight Bells, the filly that broke down at the end of the Kentucky Derby last year and was euthanized right on the track. An unfortunate flashback to the fate of Ruffian in 1975. There's long been the argument that fillies can't run with the colts, but statistically more colts have to be destroyed than fillies (Barbaro, anyone?), so it's not a question of sex but the issue of training methods and the physicality of the thoroughbred horse. The stress placed on their matchstick thin metacarpus is literally crushing, often shattering their cannon bone and/or fetlock. These injuries pay no heed to whether or not the horse is male or female, there is no dimorphic anatomical weakness inherent to a female horse. That argument is nothing more than anthropomorphic sexism.