Proud Pioneer

Apr 29, 2015: Pioneerof the Nile tears around his paddock at WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY.

Apr 29, 2015: Pioneerof the Nile tears around his paddock at WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY.

Pioneerof the Nile–2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby to Mine That Bird–would be proud to know that his son, American Pharoah, got the win two weeks ago in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Hopefully Pharoah will also have better luck in the Preakness than his papa, who finished 11th behind Rachel Alexandra in the ’09 edition.

Apr 29, 2015: American Pharoah prepping for the Derby.

Apr 29, 2015: American Pharoah prepping for the Derby.

May 2, 2015: The Kentucky Derby field coming off the Clubhouse turn onto the backstretch, with American Pharoah widest of all.

May 2, 2015: The Kentucky Derby field coming off the Clubhouse turn onto the backstretch, with American Pharoah widest of all.

May 2, 2015: American Pharoah peeks out of Baffert's barn while walking the shed row after his win in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2015: American Pharoah peeks out of Baffert’s barn while walking the shed row after his win in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2015: American Pharoah gets some love after the Derby.

May 2, 2015: American Pharoah gets some love after the Derby.

Untapable at Dawn

Untapable was out for an early gallop while I was at Churchill Downs one morning during Derby week. The lighting for photos isn’t the best before the sun comes up, but she shines through anyway!

Apr 30, 2015: Untapable checks out the Derby week crowd at dawn.

Apr 30, 2015: Untapable checks out the Derby week crowd at dawn.

Apr 30, 2015: Untapable gallops at Churchill Downs.

Apr 30, 2015: Untapable gallops at Churchill Downs.

Kelly’s Landing

Once American Pharoah made it back to Baffert’s barn after the Derby, I stopped by to watch him get his legs hosed off and walk the shed row. As they were finishing up with him, I heard a whinny behind me. Who was it? Kelly’s Landing! His stall is directly in front of the area where Baffert usually bathes his horses, which is also where the media has been camped out all week.

A few years ago, the cameras would have been focused on Kelly’s Landing. This gelding is now Eddie Kenneally’s stable pony, but he was a really good sprinter in his day. He won several graded stakes, including the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2007, and earned over $1.8 million during his career.

May 2, 2015: Kelly's Landing watches American Pharoah and the crowd in front of his barn after the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2015: Kelly’s Landing watches American Pharoah and the crowd in front of his barn after the Kentucky Derby.

Fantastic Faces

Apr 29, 2015: Tapit Wicked at Churchill Downs.

Apr 29, 2015: Tapit Wicked at Churchill Downs.

I have an affinity for horses with interesting markings, and this guy is one of my favorites. Tapit Wicked‘s blaze looks a bit like a witch and his dam’s name is Wicked Deed, so he also has a great name to go with that fantastic face.

Apr 29, 2015: Tapit Wicked at Churchill Downs.

Apr 29, 2015: Tapit Wicked at Churchill Downs.

Musical Romance

Musical Romance at Churchill Downs

May 3, 2012: Musical Romance at Churchill Downs.

As I was looking through some older files, I found a series of Musical Romance from several years ago. This photo was taken at Churchill Downs in May 2012 as she was schooling in the paddock a few days before her run in the Humana Distaff, where she was 2nd to Groupie Doll. She was always on her toes and such a lovely mare.

If you look closely, you can see the Twin Spires reflected in her eye. I think that’s fitting, considering her biggest career win was in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in 2011 against the likes of Switch and Turbulent Descent.

The Closest…

…I’ve ever been to $100,000 in cash!

Kentucky Derby Dream Bet

May 4, 2012: Churchill Downs offered a promotion that gave one person the chance to bet $100,000 to win on one horse in the Kentucky Derby. This guy carried around the case full of cash until the winner was ready to place his bet!

Mornings at the Track

May 2, 2012: The closest you'll get to flying.

May 2, 2012: The closest you’ll get to flying.

I love the quiet of mornings at the track.

I’m planning on spending a week in Louisville for the Derby, but until then, old pictures will have to suffice. These were all personally taken by me at Churchill Downs during 2012, 2013, and 2014 Derby weeks.

May 2, 2012

May 2, 2012

May 3, 2012: Union Rags.

May 3, 2012: Union Rags.

May 2, 2013: Golden Soul a few mornings before his 2nd in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2013: Golden Soul a few mornings before his 2nd in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2013: Frac Daddy before his run in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2013: Frac Daddy before his run in the Kentucky Derby.

May 2, 2013: Close Hatches.

May 2, 2013: Unlimited Budget.

May 2, 2013: Rosie Napravnik on a Wayne Catalano trainee.

May 2, 2013: Rosie Napravnik on a Wayne Catalano trainee.

May 1, 2014: Ride On Curlin.

May 1, 2014: Ride On Curlin.

May 1, 2014: Fashion Plate.

May 1, 2014: Fashion Plate.

May 1, 2014: Medal Count.

May 1, 2014: Medal Count.

May 1, 2014: A Bill Mott trainee.

May 1, 2014: A Bill Mott trainee.

May 1, 2014: Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler and her lovely mount.

May 1, 2014: Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler and her lovely mount.

Apr 30, 2014: Danza a few mornings before his 3rd in the Kentucky Derby.

Apr 30, 2014: Danza a few mornings before his 3rd in the Kentucky Derby.

Apr 29, 2014: Seek Again a few mornings before finishing 2nd in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, a head behind multiple Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Apr 29, 2014: Seek Again a few mornings before finishing 2nd in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, a head behind multiple Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Apr 30, 2014: Dance With Fate.

Apr 30, 2014: Dance With Fate.

Apr 29, 2014: Kiss Moon.

Apr 29, 2014: Kiss Moon.

Apr 29, 2014: This adorable pony kept stopping to beg for donuts.

Apr 29, 2014: This adorable pony kept stopping to beg for donuts.

Apr 30, 2014: Little Gidding gives her groom a sudsy snort shower.

Apr 30, 2014: Little Gidding gives her groom a sudsy snort shower.

Apr 30, 2014: Intense Holiday.

Apr 30, 2014: Intense Holiday.

Apr 29, 2014: Regally Ready and his pink nose.

Apr 29, 2014: Regally Ready and his pink nose.

 

Regally Ready

May 1, 2014: Regally Ready cruising to a nice win in an allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: Regally Ready cruising to a nice win in an allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs.

Regally Ready (More Than Ready x Kivi) is seven years old this year, and while he may no longer be a Grade 1 caliber horse, he’s done rather well with a slight step down in class. He’s made eight well-spaced starts so far in 2014 for Steve Asmussen, with three stakes wins and a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Arcadia. He has five wins overall on the year, one of which was an allowance optional claiming race that I was able to catch in person at Churchill Downs. I’ve seen him race at that particular track a few times, including when he won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

May 1, 2014: Regally Ready and Rosie Napravnik are ready to go!

May 1, 2014: Regally Ready and Rosie Napravnik are ready to go!

Nov 5, 2011: Regally Ready was on his toes on the way to the gate for his win in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.

Nov 5, 2011: Regally Ready was on his toes on the way to the gate for his win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.

 

Seeing is Believing

May 17, 2014: Elevated (#11) in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico.

May 17, 2014: Elevated (#11) in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico.

Elevated, a lovely gray colt by Jump Start, caught my eye at Pimlico back in May. He didn’t run particularly well that day, but he’s previously won and placed in stakes races. I thought his blinkers were interesting, as they have a full, enclosed cup over his left eye:

May 17, 2014: Elevated approaches the Pimlico starting gate.

May 17, 2014: Elevated approaches the Pimlico starting gate.

It turns out there’s a good reason for this gorgeous guy to wear those blinkers.

May 17, 2014: Elevated heads back to the barn after the James W. Murphy Stakes.

May 17, 2014: Elevated heads back to the barn after the James W. Murphy Stakes.

He only has one eye!

May 17, 2014: Elevated's blind side.

May 17, 2014: Elevated’s blind side.

Ben’s Cat

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat digs in to catch Great Attack in the stretch of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat charges down the stretch at Pimlico.

Ben’s Cat is one of those horses that almost always finds a way to win, having a record to date of 41 starts, 27 1st place finishes, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds with earnings of over $2.1 million. The tough little gelding turned eight years old in 2014, but that hasn’t slowed him down. While we were in Baltimore for the Preakness, we had the pleasure of seeing his versatility on display as he won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint for the third time–a race that actually came off the turf and was run on the main track due to a ton of rain the night before.

We have the owner, trainer, and breeder of Ben’s Cat to thank for his longevity. King Leatherbury gave him the time and care necessary to recover from a broken pelvis at age 2, so that he would finally make the races at age 4. The rest is history!

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat catches up to Great Attack.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat catches up to Great Attack in the off-the-turf Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat passes Great Attack in the Pimlico stretch.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat puts a head in front of Great Attack in the Pimlico stretch.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat, the hover horse.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat, the hover horse.

May 16, 2014: This is usually what most horses see of Ben's Cat.

May 16, 2014: This is usually what most horses see of Ben’s Cat.

May 17, 2013: Ben's Cat catches up to Bridgetown and Spring to the Sky on his way to win the 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 17, 2013: Ben’s Cat catches up to Bridgetown and Spring to the Sky on his way to win the 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat.