Gentle Death at the Sanctuary: Eclipse Award Recognizes Poignant Portrayal of Euthanasia of a Great Racehorse

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This photo of Precisionist with Michael Blowen is posted on the Old Friends web site. I think it deserves an award, too! Barbara Livingston, who took the photo the day before the horse's death, has compiled two volumes of beautiful photos of aged great racehorses called, appropriately, Old Friends.

PrecisionistBlowenBL

On September 26, 2006, Thoroughbred racing writer and historian Bill Mooney received a call from Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement facility in Central Kentucky. Blowen told Mooney that the 26-year-old champion Precisionist, who suffered from a form of skin cancer, would have to be euthanized the following day.

Mooney came to Old Friends that evening and returned early the next morning. His column is an emotional narrative of Precisionist's final hours, from the injections of lethal solutions, to Blowen holding Precisionist in his arms before the horse's last breath, to the placement of a halter from the 1985 Breeders' Cup Sprint with Precisionist during his burial.

In his piece, Mooney commented that the decision to euthanise the legendary Thoroughbred was the correct course of action, rather than to prolong his suffering: "Precisionist's death had been dignified and painless. It had also been necessary. A series of cancerous tumors had invaded his soft palate and nasal passages. They had effectively merged into a single huge tumor that was inoperable." The tumors were diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive, fast-spreading form of cancer.

"It was the most dignified death of a racehorse that I had ever witnessed," said Mooney, who related that he had several skin cancer surgeries of his own.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Bill Mooney has won the 2007 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Commentary category for his column "Final Days for a Hall of Famer," on the passing of Precisionist. The article appeared in the January 2007 edition of Post Time USA.

Mooney said that after he receives his Eclipse Award next month, he will deliver it to Blowen and the Old Friends facility.

PS Highly recommended: read Michael Blowen's tribute to Precisionist on the Old Friends web site.
Old Friends is the only retirement home for Thoroughbreds that will take stallions. Old Friends offers a safe, caring home to former stakes horses that may be in need. The farm is open to visitors, who love seeing their old heroes. The farm is operated by a non-profit foundation; your tax-deductible donation will be most welcome.

Click here to read the award-winning article:
Precisionist%20Post%20Time%20USA%20Bill%20Mooney.pdf