Camera Woes

Due to tightened security at the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, I was not allowed to take my “good” camera into the track either day. I normally shoot with my Nikon DSLR, but it has a removable lens. All cameras with these types of lenses were banned from Churchill Downs on Friday or Saturday.

I do understand that they wanted to streamline the security checkpoint process and be extra cautious because of what happened in Boston, but not being able to take my camera into the track those two days was a huge disappointment.

I am currently sorting through the photos I was able to take my with backup camera, which is a glorified point-and-shoot with a zoom lens. I’m not very happy with the results, but what can you do? I took my good Nikon in with me for morning workouts on the backside on Thursday though, so I’ll definitely be posting several of those photos. I visited a few barns along the way as well and took some beautiful pictures from paddock schooling that same day. My DSLR was fine to take to the track on Thursday, just not Friday or Saturday. Oh well!

Pimlico has jumped on the No DSLR bandwagon too, so I can’t take my good camera to the Preakness either. Once again, very disappointing.

In any case, stay tuned for lots of new photos!

Bath Time at Churchill Downs

May 3, 2012: Even soaking wet, Dullahan is so handsome!

A few mornings before the Kentucky Derby, we had to make a decision as to which barn to head to after all of the Oaks/Derby horses came off the track from their morning works. Since Churchill Downs sets aside a specific time for all of the contenders to go to the track (no other horses are allowed out while the Oaks/Derby horses are working), they all end up back at their barns at the same time. We decided to run to Dale Romans’ barn in order to catch a glimpse of Dullahan getting cooled out, but we had a little extra time to get to Bob Baffert’s barn as well.

Derby week is so much fun!

May 3, 2012: Dullahan enjoys a bath.

May 3, 2012: Bob Baffert’s Liaison takes his bath and all the cameras in stride.

May 3, 2012: Laundry time, too. Summer Applause’s workout cloth is hung out to dry in front of Bret Calhoun’s barn.

May 3, 2012: Bob Baffert’s barn was loaded for the 2012 Kentucky Oaks and Derby.


El Padrino Returns!

May 3, 2012: El Padrino gallops at Churchill Downs in preparation for his run in the Kentucky Derby.

El Padrino, 13th in the Kentucky Derby in his last start, returns to the track today in an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park. Good luck to this handsome son of Pulpit!

Update: El Padrino ran 2nd in his race today. Not bad considering he’s been away from the races for over 7 months.

May 3, 2012: El Padrino schools in the paddock at Churchill Downs.

I Guess I’ll Have Another

May 3, 2012: I’ll Have Another gallops a few mornings before his Derby win.

I freely admit that I’ll Have Another was not my pick in the Kentucky Derby this year. Not my third or fourth, either. However, I’ve always liked his sire Flower Alley and I have all the respect in the world for Three Chimneys where he stands at stud, so I’m learning to live with it. It’s just that I had my dream trifecta all set up: Bodemeister, Union Rags, and Dullahan. I guess two out of the three isn’t all bad, right?

This was the second Kentucky Derby I’ve attended, and my friend and I decided that we’d just get a general admission ticket and hang out in the paddock all day for the Derby. That’s exactly what we did, and that’s exactly why I’ll never do it again. Ever. I stood in one spot from 8am until 7pm without going to the bathroom, getting a drink, getting out of the beating sun, or even sitting down. Why? Why would someone do something that insane? Because I absolutely refused to give up my spot at the paddock rail! It gets so crowded that many times you’d never make it back to the paddock at all, let alone to a rail spot. I stood there and suffered so I’d have the best view I could manage, and boy did I pay for it.

Lesson learned. I’ve already bought my seat for next year’s Kentucky Oaks and Derby.

Oh, and did I mention that it was the largest crowd in Kentucky Derby history? 165, 307 people piled into Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May of 2012, and I think that every single one of them was in front of me as I walked back to my car. Try spending an exhausting day like that at the track, then walk up the bridge and down to your car at Cardinal Stadium with all the drunk kids from the infield staggering around like zombies in your path. Not an ideal way to wrap up the day.

It’s all worth it in the end, though–even if my horses lost. There’s no experience quite like Churchill Downs on Derby day!

The Lovely Dullahan

May 3, 2012: Dullahan at Dale Romans’ barn.

I think Dullahan is one of the more charismatic 3-year-olds of 2012. He is often seen on the track in the mornings with Shackleford, and they really do make a perfectly matched pair. This photo was taken after his morning gallop at Churchill Downs, just a few days before the Kentucky Derby.

Dullahan has had a rather frustrating campaign this year. He won the Grade 1 Blue Grass, came in a strong 3rd in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, and won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic against some solid older horses later in the year while setting a track record in the process. However, the problem is that his only lifetime wins have come on Polytrack, even though he seems to work well over dirt and turf. He’s never won on either of those two surfaces, and he’s run some less than stellar efforts on them. He may be the only horse whose sole wins have come in Grade 1 Polytrack races. I’m really looking forward to his 2013 campaign, though. If he grows up a bit and performs the way we know he can, it could be pretty exciting. Just look at how Romans was able to get Shackleford to blossom as a 4 year old.

In any case, he’s a stunning colt. He’s by Even the Score out of the fantastic mare Mining My Own. This makes him a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner and Canadian 2-year-old champion Mine That Bird. Just think about the odds that one mare would produce a Kentucky Derby winner and a third place finisher. Astronomical!