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Jockeys Pay Tribute to Eight Belles

Jockeys at Pimlico honored the memory of Eight Belles by wearing stickers.

Jockeys honored the memory of Eight Belles by wearing stickers on their boots or mud pants May 16 and 17 at Pimlico, which was hosting the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and a variety of other graded races. Each red and white adhesive label had a bell, the number 8, and the word “Belles” on it.

Eight Belles broke down after finishing second to Big Brown in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and was euthanized.

“It’s something to remind everybody of a great horse,” said jockey John Velazquez. “What happened was a really sad thing, and we’re sad. I think it (wearing the stickers) is a good thing to bring awareness to our game. We’ll do whatever is possible to minimize anything that happens like that.”

The idea for the stickers came from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).

“It’s not related to a specific cause; it’s just really to pay tribute to the filly,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of communications for the NTRA. “We thought it would be nice for the jockeys to wear something. We had them made for the jockeys.”

According to Terry Meyocks, the National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, “they (NTRA officials) asked us if we would consider asking our riders to do it, and we said, ‘Absolutely.’ The jocks have been very supportive.”