Morning Workouts

May 3, 2012: Early mornings at Churchill Downs are my favorite way to start a day at the track. It’s often difficult to identify exactly who is who, but they’re all lovely in their own way.

As I’ve mentioned before, watching morning workouts is my absolute favorite pastime. I love the hum of activity in the barns and the constant sets of horses entering the track and leaving again to get their morning baths. It’s the only sort of traffic I look forward to!

Most horses are identified by their tack as belonging to a certain trainer, but it’s often difficult to tell exactly who a horse is unless you’re familiar with markings and know who you’re looking for. In the case of the two photos I’ve posted today, I don’t have names for either one. However, some stand out to me more than others for several reasons and it’s fun to see their personalities come out on the track and in these pictures.

I can only imagine that they might think of these mornings as a big game, where they get to run around and play with their friends who live in different houses—err, barns—in their neighborhood. Some of them are well behaved while others hop and prance around like they can’t wait to get going. Still others are fascinated by all the people along the rail. I was watching one morning in 2011 when St. John’s River (a very close 2nd in the Kentucky Oaks to Plum Pretty a few days later) kept stopping at the rail to reach over and check out all the people. She kept sticking her head over the railing, attempting to steal people’s donuts and see what else they had in hand. It took her rider a few minutes to get her to focus on the track, but it was so adorable that we rooted for her all the more in the big race.

St. John’s River gave Rosie Napravnik a second in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks, which she turned around and won in 2012 on Believe You Can, becoming the first female jockey to win the race in its 138th running.

May 3, 2012: Early morning at Churchill Downs. This horse was fascinated by the cameras and kept staring at me instead of paying attention to where he was going.

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