Since it’s almost time for the Kentucky Oaks…
Bouquet Booth, a lovely daughter of Flower Alley out of the mare Toll Order, is shown here on the undercard of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. She was 5th to Plum Pretty in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks.
May 4, 2012: Bouquet Booth in the paddock at Churchill Downs.
May 4, 2012: Bouquet Booth in the paddock at Churchill Downs.
May 4, 2012: Bouquet Booth with John Velazquez up.
The first Breeders’ Cup I attended was the 2010 edition at Churchill Downs. I wasn’t sure what they would allow me to bring into the track, so I only took a little point-and-shoot Nikon. My mistake! So many wonderful horses, but the pictures… not so much.
A few made the cut, though.
Nov 3, 2010: The lovely Silver Timber. He finished a respectable 5th in the Turf Sprint behind Chamberlain Bridge that year.
Nov 4, 2010: Giant Oak, who finished 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon that weekend.
Nov 3, 2010: Zenyatta makes her way from the barn to the track. There were over 100 people following her, including camera crews, photographers, and her own group of bodyguards. This remains one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in horse racing.
Nov 3, 2010: Zenyatta, two days before the only loss in her career.
May 19, 2012: Immortal Eyes heads back to the barn at Pimlico after his run in the Maryland Sprint Handicap.
Immortal Eyes has had quite the career, and became a millionaire in 2013 by doing it the hard way: 48 starts with 18 wins, 13 seconds, and 4 thirds. That’s quite a record, and what a gelding! I’m not sure if he’s still in training since he just turned 9 this year, but I hope that he’s happy and healthy wherever he is!
May 19, 2012: Immortal Eyes at Pimlico. “Cheese!”
These photos were taken the morning of May 2, 2013 at Churchill Downs.
Rosie Napravnik works a Wayne Catalano trainee.
The lovely Black Onyx out for a gallop. He was scratched from the Kentucky Derby the following morning due to a non-displaced ankle chip. He’s fully recovered and back in training now.
Verrazano preps for the Derby.
The Bob Baffert graded stakes winners Power Broker (outside) and Govenor Charlie.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Close Hatches. She was also a finalist for an Eclipse award for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly (won by Beholder).
May 2, 2012: One of the many bays from the barn of D. Wayne Lukas.
One of the things I enjoy most at the track is watching morning workouts. However, it’s also one of the most frustrating activities.
Trainers make it easy to identify horses from their barns by tacking them up in different colors, logos, and styles when sending them out to the track in the mornings. The frustration sets in when you try to identify the names of particular horses–there are no names or numbers displayed to let you know who you’re watching. Unless a horse has tons of chrome like Shackleford or wears bright tack and pom poms like Trinniberg, it’s often quite difficult to tell who is who.
Just spend an hour at the rail. It’s amazing how many bays with no markings are running around out there. Todd Pletcher alone seems to have about 30 of them!
May 2, 2012: Another beautiful bay without a spot of white.
May 2, 2013: You guessed it, another bay.
May 3, 2012: Hey look, another one!
Nov 1, 2011: Commentator races to the top of his paddock for carrots.
Old Friends retirement farm in Georgetown, KY is one of the best places to visit in the area. Take a tour with one of their knowledgeable guides and feed carrots to some of racing’s modern legends. So much fun!
One of my favorite horses of the last decade is Commentator, a speedy son of Distorted Humor who won over $2 million on the track. As a gelding, he ran from 2004 to 2009, setting track records along the way and winning the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on two occasions. His final race was a third try in the Whitney, where he finished 3rd.
Commentator now spends his days racing around his huge paddock at Old Friends and chowing down on carrots from his adoring fans.
May 2, 2012: One of the few moments where Commentator’s ears are pricked forward. This is a rare thing for him!
May 2, 2012: Nom nom nom.
May 2, 2012: What do you mean, “No more carrots?!”
May 2, 2012: Insert carrots here.
Nov 4, 2012: The lovely mare Well Monied, a Grade 2 winner by Maria’s Mon shown here in foal to Giant’s Causeway.
In November 2012, I attended some of the sales in Kentucky. They’re so much fun. You never know who you’ll run into or which horses you’ll get a chance to see up close. Most of the horses sold at these breeding stock sales are fillies and mares, but there are usually several weanlings and the occasional stallion up for sale as well. Now, if someone would just loan me a few million bucks…
The photos here are from the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale. Such a gorgeous place to visit!
Nov 5, 2012: Ponche de Leona, shown here in foal to Tapit, is the dam of ’13 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man.
Nov 4, 2012: Tapitsfly, trained by Dale Romans, won the ’09 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and became a two-time Grade 1 winner in 2012.
Nov 4, 2012: Tapitsfly.
Nov 4, 2012: Versailles Song is a daughter of the amazing mare Versailles Treaty, who won four Grade 1 races during her career. This makes Versailles Song a half-sister to George Vancouver, winner of the ’12 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf.
Nov 4, 2012: Bella Dorato at the Fasig-Tipton sales barn.
This lovely mare is Bella Dorato, the dam of 2012 Champion Sprinter Trinniberg. She’s shown here at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale, just before she sold to Stonestreet for $460,000. She stood out to me even before I knew who she was because she bounced and danced everywhere she went. I don’t know if that’s just her personality or if she was on her toes because of the constant flow of people through the sales barns, but she had quite a spring to her step.
Trinniberg has retired to Rockridge Stud in Hudson, NY after a rather lackluster year, but he was always one of my favorites on the track. Here’s hoping that he passes on the good looks and speed that mama Bella gave him!
This lovely mare is Beautyandthebeast, a Grade 2 winner by Machiavellian. She raced in England, Ireland, and the US during her career and has had a few foals since being retired as a broodmare. She’s shown here at the Keeneland November sale in foal with a Lemon Drop Kid colt. Her two-year-old filly by Bernardini, Bikini Beauty, won her debut in September for Christophe Clement by almost four lengths and has already competed in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park.
I just loved this mare’s calm demeanor at the sale. About five minutes after this photo was taken, a weanling broke away from his groom and came trotting down the path towards her. Her head went straight up and she walked forward to stand right in front of him as his groom ran to catch up. She seemed to be scolding him, with a look that said, “Bad boy! I’d never let my kids behave that way!”
Nov 7, 2011: Beautyandthebeast at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
Nov 3, 2011: California Flag gallops on the main track at Churchill Downs a few days before his start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
The inaugural edition of the 6 1/2 furlong California Flag Handicap was run on October 19th on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, and it could not have been more appropriately named. Why that course and that distance? Because they were both California Flag‘s favorites! He set the track record there for 6 1/2 furlongs, and he won his biggest victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on the downhill course.
California Flag (Avenue of Flags x Ultrafleet) is a gelded half-brother to the queen of the downhill turf course, Cambiocorsa. It must be in the blood, because she loved to win on that track too. California Flag ran from 2007 until his retirement in 2012, winning 11 of 27 starts with earnings of almost $1.3 million dollars. All of his victories occurred in California, but he also ran in Kentucky, Japan, and even Dubai.