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Spoofs & Satire

Fragments From Horse’s Mouth! the Musical

It wasn’t long into the nation’s mourning for Barbaro that Broadway’s top producers hatched a plan to preserve his fame. But who knew purgatory was meant for horses?

BARBARO:
Dog babies are called puppies
Cats have kittens, right?
Baby horses are called foals
And I was foaled one clear spring night.

Sired by Dynaformer
My dam was La Ville Rouge
My sire’s sire was Roberto
My prospects? They were huge.

NEARBY MARES:
His prospects? They were huge.
His prospects? They were huge.

BARBARO:
They started me off
In Delaware Park,
October, 2005
I balked at the gate,
I wouldn’t load in:
I felt too much alive.

But when I got out
Onto the track
I knew there’d be
No looking back.
Caraballo was aboard,
Or maybe Prado,
I don’t know. I didn’t look up.
Just listened to my hooves
As they made an ostinato
On the ground.
The rhythm kept me strong, I found.
I had the speed; I had the moves;
I won it by a nose—
If your nose is eight and a half lengths long.

NEARBY MARES:
Eight and a half lengths long.
Eight and a half lengths long.

BARBARO:
I won my first five races.
I won on turf, I won on dirt,
I won if the track was sloppy or firm,
I won even if my fetlocks hurt.
I won because I was a winner,
Not because I was lucky.
In May 2006
I got in the trailer and went to Kentucky.

Have you heard of Brother Derek?
No? I didn’t think so.
He was the post-time favorite.
Where is he now? I don’t even know.

NEARBY MARES:
Doesn’t even know.
Doesn’t even know.

BARBARO:
At the last turn I seized control
And jetted down the straightaway.
I won the Derby by seven lengths.
A legend was born on that fine day.

I kept on going at full speed
Past the finish line.
Galloped out to 20 lengths
Victory and fame were mine.

NEARBY MARES:
Dark days ahead.
Dark days ahead.

BARBARO:
And then, two weeks later, the Preakness.
They loaded me into the gate.
My heart was racing before I was—
I felt like I couldn’t wait.

I false-started, was reloaded,
The gun went off, the race began.
And then it happened, all at once.
The fall of horse is like the fall of man.

I broke my cannon bone above my ankle,
The pastern bone below it,
The sesamoid bone behind it, too.
I was afraid but I tried not to show it.

NEARBY MARES:
Happened all at once.
Happened all at once.

BARBARO:
I always had music in my head,
But it quickly became a dirge, you see.
I was brought to Kennett Square
For unprecedented surgery.

They fused the joints in my injured leg,
Gave me a locking compression plate.
For a while there, I was filled with hope
But you can never outrun fate.

NEARBY MARES
Outrun fate.
Outrun fate.

BARBARO:
Abscess on my other foot.
Laminitis, too.
For the want of a hoof the horse can be lost,
No matter what the doctors do.

My hind feet were in such grave pain,
They could not bear my weight.
I could not stand
To be that way,
In that awful state.

And so, as January ended
I was euthanized.
I can’t say I didn’t cry—
All goodbyes are sad goodbyes.

I would like to paint you a picture
Of a race in the great hereafter,
And a racetrack filled with cheers
With excitement and with laughter.
But that would be a deception
And I am beyond deceit
The truth is all that permits me
To stand on my own four feet.

NEARBY MARES:
His own four feet.
His own four feet.

BARBARO:
Picture a pitch-black stable
Now picture a still deeper darkness
If you are even able.
It is terrible, this starkness.
A single horse stands
In the middle of that void
He tenderly puts weight
Upon his sesamoid.

I passed from the earth in 2007.
Thus concludes my tragic story
Horses do not go to heaven,
They remain in purgatory.

NEARBY MARES:
Cannon, pastern, sesamoid.
All destroyed, all destroyed.
 

Ben Greenman is a contributing writer for the New Yorker and a bestselling author whose books includes both fiction (most recently, The Slippage and What He’s Poised To Do) and nonfiction (Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You, with George Clinton; and Mo Meta Blues, with Questlove). More by Ben Greenman