What a morning! If the last few days at Santa Anita have been busy, they were nothing compared to the scene today at Clocker’s Corner. The joint was positively jumping with tons of owners, trainers, jockeys, racing celebs and journalists took in the morning’s workouts.
The scene was hopping. One of the first people I ran into today was celebrity chef Bobby Flay. How cool is that? He was totally nice and let me take a photo, which was awesome.
I also saw two of the biggest legends of horse racing: Hall of Fame jockeys Angel Cordero and Laffit Pincay Jr. These are two of the most outstanding riders in history, and it gave me goose bumps to see them in person.
Speaking of jockeys, I also ran into Aaron Gryder. He’s a super-nice guy, and you can give him a follow on Twitter at @AaronGryder
I also ran into Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who’s in town to host the NBC Breeders’ Cup broadcast. Seriously, this morning was EPIC.
Awesomely, there were all sorts of amenities for the fans who showed up for morning works. In addition to the usual delicious breakfast fare at Clocker’s Corner, there was a shoeshine station! What a good idea – it stayed very busy all morning!
I also ran into the Best Racing Horse Fans EVER – seriously, they have a Facebook page and everything. These guys are super-fans of the sport and try to go to as many big racing days as they can - you may remember them from my Woodbine blog, since they travelled to Ontario to experience the Woodbine Mile. Here are Stephen, Chris and Mark being stoked to be here.
There were plenty of interviews going on throughout the bustle of the morning. Here’s Mario Gutierrez, who won this year’s Santa Anita Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes () on I’ll Have Another, talking to Reuters this morning.
Of course, I can’t get through another blog without keeping you up to date with The Man, the bridleless wonderhorse Wyatt! And now it gets better – there are two of him.
Well, sort of – the dark bay horse on the left is Angus; he and Wyatt are best friends and it is the cutest thing in the world. I mean, if you look closely at the photo below, you can see that Wyatt is licking Angus’s shoulder. Squee!
On to the Breeders’ Cup horses! Once again, I’ll sort the photos into individual races to keep things organized. Here we go!
It was a big morning for Classic horses today. Here’s Richard’s Kid looking mellow as he returns to the barn area.
Game on Dude spotting! He’s so handsome. He really does have that “it” factor, and I think he’s the horse to beat on Saturday.
Handsome Mike looked wonderful again today – what an appropriately named horse!
I was so happy to see Mucho Macho Man get here – I was worried that some of these horses would get trapped on the East Coast due to the storm, so actually seeing them here in person is incredibly soothing.
Pool Play is a black beauty-kind of horse; he’s not the best-known Classic contender, but he’s been training well in the mornings and may be an interesting horse to work into exactas and trifectas.
Ron the Greek was looking good this morning. He had some boogie in his step, and he’s another horse that has a serious chance at nabbing this race.
To Honor and Serve was out this morning, too, and he really is a physically impressive horse. Seriously, I think this race is one of the trickier puzzles to handicap this year (which of course makes it all the more fun!)
Dirt Mile contender Emcee was looking sharp as he galloped this morning. He was definitely focused on the task at hand.
I love Fed Biz! He’s definitely going in my exacta for the Dirt Mile.
But for my money, it’s impossible to beat Shackleford in the Dirt Mile. He’s just so impressive looking, and he tries his heart out every time.
Filly and Mare Turf runner Nahrain looked very good out there this morning, and I like her a lot in the race.
Juvenile Fillies Turf runner Flashy Ways is another horse that suits her name – she’s lovely looking and was very sharp in her gallop.
Oscar Party will face her in the Turf, and as she jogged around the track she seemed very relaxed and at ease.
I love this photo of Juvenile Turf contender Dundonnell getting a reassuring pat from his rider. There really is such a connection between the horses and the people who take care of them, and it’s really apparent during training hours.
I also love this photo of Fantastic Moon – it looks like both he and his rider are laughing at the same thing!
Remember Joha from my Keeneland Diaries? Well, he’s back and looking ready to go in the Juvenile Turf.
Here’s Juvenile contender Fortify. He definitely looked like he was having fun out there!
Shanghai Bobby is my pick for the Juvenile this year. Man, he is one good-looking horse!
How pretty is Juvenile Fillies contender Almost an Angel?
But the horse to beat in this race is probably Dreaming of Julia. This filly is a monster, and you know she’s a big deal when trainer Todd Pletcher himself escorts her off of the track following her morning jaunt.
The Ladies’ Classic is another race that’s just loaded with extremely talented horses. Class Included is one of them. I thought she was really eye-catching, especially with her super-cool blinkers! I like the racing stripe particularly.
I loved seeing Grace Hall this morning. She looks fantastic, and check out how huge her stride is!
Include Me Out looked content and relaxed as she jogged with her pony horse this morning. I can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon’s Ladies Classic – this is shaping up to be one heck of a horse race!
Okay, you HAVE to look closely at the photo below. This is Calidescopio, who will be running in the Marathon tomorrow. That thing that makes it look like he’s wearing tighty-whiteys on his head? It’s basically a hat! His trainer says that it prevents head colds in horses. Who knew? The other cool thing about this horse is that if you look closely, his rider doesn’t have a saddle! This horse gets his exercise while being ridden bareback. How cool is that?
Marathon contender Fame And Glory got pretty sweaty out there this morning, which is weird because it really wasn’t that hot outside. For that reason, I think I’m going to leave him out of my ticket tomorrow; but, hey, I’ve been wrong before!
Here’s Mile contender Animal Kingdom, who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby. This is an incredibly tough race for him, but he seems to take so much joy in running that I have to give him a shot.
Jeranimo has been flying under the radar in the Mile, but when I saw him today he looked very at ease as he walked onto the turf course to stretch his legs.
Here’s Moonlight Cloud getting a big pat from her rider. I love the Europeans and their blankets – who knew horses could look chic?
But of course the horse I was most excited to see was Wise Dan. I am a total fangirl of his – he’s a winner on dirt, synthetic surfaces, and on turf; in short, he’s The Man.
I decided that I had to stalk him, so I headed into the stable area to track him down. When I got to the barn, here’s who as waiting to greet me:
It’s really hard to tell, but this goat is way fat. He is also hilarious. Check out his expression! He definitely kept me and the other photographers laughing as we waited for Wise Dan to emerge.
Then it was time! Wise Dan shipped in from Kentucky yesterday, and he looked much better than I usually do after a cross-country trip! He really is a handsome guy.
Seriously, look at his coat! He sparkles. (Hey, I already admitted that I’m a fangirl. Bear with me.)
After uniting with his exercise rider, Wise Dan headed out to the track. He’s so cool – he just stood there for a while taking in the scene as horses trained around him.
Then it was time to get a gallop in. He headed over to the turf course and seemed genuinely happy to have the grass under his toes.
Okay, we can move on to another race – I just needed to get that out of my system. We will now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.
I saw Coil again today – he looks very fit and ready to go. And he’s got his hair braided already, so you know he’s going to be ready to have his picture taken on Saturday.
Gantry was very on the muscle – look how round he was as he galloped this morning!
I also may have a wee bit of a horse crush on The Lumber Guy – I’m a sucker for a gray!
Here are some more of the European contingent. The Fugue is the horse to watch in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; I still like Zagora the best, but the rumors out of Great Britain say that The Fugue is a monster on the turf. Snow King there on the right was meant to run in the Juvenile Turf, but didn’t end up entering. He’s still a looker, though.
It was great to see Dullahan again. He is a seriously huge horse, but he moves very athletically when he gallops. He should be extremely interesting in the Turf. I’m keeping him in my exactas and trifectas.
Slim Shadey is another horse to watch, and not just because of his awesome name. He loves it here at Santa Anita, and he looks like he’s ready for Saturday.
How cute is Trailblazer with his blanket and mane in ponytails? I apparently am a sucker for a well-accessorized horse. Who knew?
Check out this guy! He’s Next Question, he’s running in the Turf Sprint, and he is a good-looking son of a gun! I do love a horse with flashy white markings.
That’s it for me for today - I’ll be back tomorrow with all of the action out of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup. Thanks for stopping by!