Wow. What an amazing day of racing today. From start to finish, the racing was top notch, with unexpected longshots coming in and a great race in the crown of the day with the Ladies’ Classic.
It’s always such a strange sensation to arrive at a racetrack on the morning of a huge event like this and witness the calm before the proverbial storm. When I got to Santa Anita today, the place was pretty quiet, with just staff and press milling about waiting for the day’s festivities to begin.
Of course, as usual I was distracted as usual by the beauty of Santa Anita as the fog lifted. Today, the mountains were completely unobstructed by haze or mist, and as the fog lifted the day became glorious.
As the crowd started to roll in, I had a walk around to see what fans were enjoying on the first morning of the Breeders’ Cup. Naturally, the newly installed Zenyatta statue was a huge draw.
There were tons of awesomely dressed people here today. This woman was one of the first arrivals at the track, and she was dressed to the nines. She was rocking a fascinator that had tons of peacock feathers and her dress was such a great shade of blue.
Also, how rad are her gloves? Answer: super rad.
These guys looked fantastic, too! I’m loving her hat.
And check out this guy’s sweet pants – the color is amazeballs!
After that, I wandered over to the amazing 3D drawing that the Breeders’ Cup commissioned for the big weekend of racing. When I got there, my photographer friend Wendy Wooley was already in line to get her picture taken. Wendy is a seriously talented photographer – you can check out her work at http://www.equisportphotos.com if you want to see some of her shots. Anyway, she was super stoked to get her picture taken in the drawing and had a great plan for her pose, which involved her riding two horses at once while simultaneously photographing the race. Did I mention that Wendy is hilarious?
Naturally, I had to get in on the act as well.
After that, I just wandered around again taking in the sights of Santa Anita on a Breeders’ Cup day. I ran into the horses and carriage that escort officials to and from their positions on track, which is such a wonderful, old-school tradition.
Of course, the best thing about that carriage, as far as I’m concerned, is Archie the Jack Russell whose job it is to oversee all of the events happening on track. Naturally, since it was a Breeders’ Cup day, he was dressed to kill.
Then it was time for the Breeders’ Cup races to begin! The mounted police color guard were there in full splendor, which was awesome. I may have squealed, “Oooh! Sparkly!” when they emerged.
Also, the mascot from the USC Trojans came out. His horse was just absolutely gorgeous, and the two made quite a spectacle as they galloped down the stretch.
A huge crowd was gathered to watch all of the racing goodness, and they weren’t disappointed by the afternoon’s incredible combination of sports and entertainment.
The first Breeders’ Cup race of the afternoon was the Juvenile Sprint. Longshot Hightail was the winner, giving trainer D. Wayne Lukas his 19th Breeders’ Cup win. That’s pretty incredible.
Then it was time for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Remember Calidoscopio, the horse I blogged about yesterday who trained without a saddle but with a headpiece that kind of looked like he was wearing tighty-whiteys as a hat? Well, he won!
It was jockey Aaron Gryder’s first ever Breeders’ Cup win, and he was beyond pumped. Looks like Calidoscopio was, too! Love how they both have big smiles on their faces here.
Aaron was great to the horse, too. When his valet (who’s kind of like a personal assistant for jockeys) handed him a bottle of water after the race, Aaron poured it on Calidoscopio to help him cool off instead of drinking it himself.
Flotilla was next up in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She ran a huge race, and turned away some very classy fillies.
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies was a seriously good race with a bunch of 2-year-old females that have loads of potential. At the end of the 1 1/16-mile race, Beholder emerged as the winner for owner Spendthrift Farm, trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Garrett Gomez.
I love this photo of Go Go (as Gomez is affectionately called in the sport) tossing his winning flowers in the air.
Then it was time for the Filly and Mare Turf. This was one of the races today that was seriously tough, but I had my rooting interest firmly with Zagora. She and I go way back, and I really, really wanted her to win. When she barreled down the stretch and got to the lead to get the victory, I had a slightly unprofessional meltdown where I was shooting photos right past the finish line. I may have jumped up and down, clapped and squealed; but whatever, I make no apologies. After all, isn’t loving certain horses part of what makes this game so fun?
Here’s jockey Javier Castellano giving my girl Z a big hug as they returned to the winners circle. How great is that?
I love how proud she is of herself, too. She totally knew that she was the best today.
The final Breeders’ Cup race of the day was the Ladies’ Classic. It was chock-full of seriously talented fillies and mares. I had no idea who was going to win – as I said to another photographer before the race, anyone could run huge in the Ladies’ Classic and still come in last.
But it was the fabulous Royal Delta who won today, becoming only the second horse in history to win back-to-back Ladies’ Classics. She was breathtaking, and it was a privilege to watch her run today.
Of course, it’s always a treat to watch Mike Smith ride a winner in the Breeders’ Cup. He’s always so darn happy to win.
I love his patented throw-the-flowers-in-the-air move!
That’s it for today – thank you so much for reading! I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow. Let me know what your thoughts were on today’s Breeders’ Cup races in the comments, and I look forward to sharing the sights of Saturday with you soon!