Eight Bells for Eight Belles

A petition urging Churchill Downs to honor Fox Hill Farms' deceased filly Eight Belles by ringing eight bells, a nautical euphemism for "finished," prior to the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is gaining momentum among horse lovers across the nation.

The online petition, started by horse lover Joni Massengale, requests the memorial action be taken in memory of Eight Belles after her tragic breakdown in the 2008 edition of the Derby.  

The term "eight bells" signifies the ending of one watch and the beginning of another aboard a ship. It can also be a way of saying that a sailor's life long watch is over, for instance, in his or her obituary. 

The petition reads: "Whereas the Kentucky Derby is the epitome of Thoroughbred horse racing, rich in its history and traditions; and whereas the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing is a celebration of the beauty and athleticism of the breed; and whereas on May 3, 2008 one horse raced with the heart of a champion and a spirit greater than her body; let eight bells be rung before the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby in memory of the filly."

Located at 8BellsForEightBelles.org, the petition gives those that sign an opportunity to leave comments, some of which are posted on the site. There is no personal information being collected other than name, city, state, and country, and there is no solicitation for money.

A flash introduction to the site, accompanied by the audio track of eight ringing bells, reads, "Spirit, courage, hope, beauty, heart, grace, determination, champion: Eight Belles."

First published on bloodhorse.com.

About the Author

Claire Novak

Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at BloodHorse.com in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on ESPN.com, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.

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