It’s amazing for me to realize that all of the great racing, fashion and fun fit into one day that was Saturday of the Breeders’ Cup. Once again, the day was just stunningly beautiful, with clear weather that showcased the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.
People started arriving at Santa Anita early, since post time for the first race was at 10 a.m. Ladies and gents alike were showing off their finest fashion for the Breeders’ Cup.
I also saw this character again! Sadly, yesterday I misidentified this awesome pooch as Archie; her name is actually Lexy, and I think she perfectly sums up her feelings on my mistake in the photo below.
It seemed like everyone was really in the Breeders’ Cup spirit Saturday – even the carriage horses had sparkly Breeders’ Cup logos drawn on their flanks. They were like living My Little Ponies! My inner 5-year-old self was overjoyed.
This horse was a total flirt, too – he was begging everyone for peppermints.
As we drew nearer to the Breeders’ Cup races, the crowd really began to swell. It was great to see Santa Anita packed to the gills with people out to have a fun Saturday of cocktails, glamour, betting and the best racing in the world.
As the morning wore on I met up with my friend Kelly Lynch, who’s the editor for SocialiteLife. She was covering the event for her blog on celebs (check it out here!) so we and her sister Molly headed out to get photos of the Purple Carpet, which is where the VIPs and celebs attending the Breeders’ Cup get to go and get their pictures taken. How cool is it that the second I arrived, so did Elizabeth Banks! I mean, have you seen Wet Hot American Summer? She’s hilarious in that! Not to mention her turns in Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games and “30 Rock.” She was really cool and pretty in person, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little star struck.
Kelly had to stay and interview the other celebs arriving (poor girl!) so I skibbled off to start taking photos of the big Breeders’ Cup races. The first race I was able to see was the Filly and Mare Sprint. This was a race I was very excited about, since Groupie Doll is one of my favorite fillies out there right now. When I was at Keeneland for Fall Stars, my girlfriends in the press box and I dubbed ourselves the Doll’s Groupies (because we are horse-crazy dorks at heart.) So it’s needless to say that I was delighted when the Doll won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with ease.
Jockey Rajiv Maragh was thrilled after the race; I love seeing the emotions of the jockeys, trainers, owners and staff who have spent countless hours, dollars and anxious moments just to get to these races. It’s incredibly moving.
Up next was the Dirt Mile. This was a highly competitive race, but I felt pretty convinced that Shackleford was going to win it. So of course the poor horse stumbled at the starting gate and almost put his beautiful white nose in the dirt. Rats!
The big guy tried hard to make up the lost ground after that, but Saturday definitely wasn’t Shack’s day since he got caught in traffic coming around the turn for home and got carried really far away from the rail. With that additional loss of ground, he was done. Tapizar took advantage of Shack’s luck and came on to win the Dirt Mile and pay $32.60 for a $2 win wager. So for any of my readers who had their money on Tapizar, I salute you! I am also jealous of you. Here he is below winning you your huge chunk of cash.
The Turf Sprint was up next. I wasn’t sure who I liked in this race, so I just decided to watch and enjoy. I’m glad I did! Mizdirection, one of two females in the race, came roaring up on the outside at the last minute to win. What a thrill!
It was also really cool to see her celebrity owner Jim Rome there to accept his first Breeders’ Cup trophy.
He was so proud of his horse that he gave her a big kiss on the nose as she got back to the winner’s circle.
Of course, if my horse were to win me the stuff in the photo below plus a cool million dollars, I would probably be dropping a few horse smooches of my own.
Next in line was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. This is always one of my favorite races, since we’re pretty much guaranteed to see a star of tomorrow during this race. I had seen Shanghai Bobby and He’s Had Enough training in the morning and thought both of them looked really good. I wish I had bet those beliefs – I would have had the exacta! But it was not to be, so I settled for the thrill of watching their stretch battle where Shanghai Bobby outdueled He’s Had Enough in the end.
It was great to see jockey Rosie Napravnik get another huge Grade I win. Congratulations!
Then it was time for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. I feel like such a maroon for forgetting about Little Mike. He was really impressive when I went to Arlington Park for the Arlington Million, and I completely disregarded him. That certainly didn’t slow him down, though, as he hustled up to win by a half-length.
Little Mike’s trainer Dale Romans greeted his wife in the winner’s circle with a congratulatory kiss. It was so sweet.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez was clearly savoring the moment as he and Little Mike were led into the winner’s circle.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint time! If you read my first Diary entry from Breeders’ Cup here: you may have had a little money on Trinniberg. I hope you did – he paid well, despite the fact that he has been pretty dominant as a sprinter this year. He won the Sprint pretty easily, but The Lumber Guy ran a huge race as well. It’ll be interesting to see those two meet up again.
I was also just genuinely delighted for winning jockey Willie Martinez. I know Willie from my years of working at Tampa Bay Downs, and he is just the nicest, most pleasant guy. When he found out that Tampa had started a retraining program for retired racehorses, Willie literally came running out of the jockeys’ room with a check and made a big donation. This guy is a class act. So it was so great to see him in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner’s circle. And of course, Willie being the good guy that he is, leaned over and gave Trinniberg a big hug and kiss when they got back to get their garland of flowers.
As the team walked into the winner’s circle, Willie let loose a cascade of flower petals that showered over him and Trinniberg. It was an outstanding moment.
Finally, it was Mile time. Anyone who read my Thursday Breeders' Cup Diaries blog will know how excited I was to see Wise Dan run. He’s a personal favorite of mine, and I had serious knots in my stomach as the horses loaded into the starting gate. Wise Dan! Animal Kingdom! Excelebration! This was a seriously tough race. So imagine my reaction when Wise Dan ran a huge race and went on to set a new track record for a mile on the grass; plus, Animal Kingdom ran an awesome second! I may have jumped up and down, squealed and clapped like a little kid in the midst of all of the racing photographers. Whatever, I’m not ashamed – I love this horse!
In fact, I met up with some of my journalist friends (we’re the crazy racing girls at the track) and we had a group hug outside of the winner’s circle. Wise Dan is just that good. Because I am a total fangirl of his, I took about 300 photos of him, which I’ll hare below.
Now it was Breeders’ Cup Classic time! As the horses prepared to come to the racetrack, Tony Bennett arrived to sing “The Best is Yet To Come” to call them to the post. I’m not ashamed to say that I snapped his photo with not only my trusty Nikon and a Cannon, but with my phone, too. Hey, I was about 10 feet away from Tony Bennett – I couldn’t help myself!
As the sun was beginning to set over beautiful Santa Anita, Tony Bennett’s band started up and he crooned away as the horses left the paddock. It was very cool!
Then the horses came on track for the Classic. I don’t think that there was a more picturesque moment of the day.
Before I knew it, the horses were in the gate and the race was on!
In a truly shocking moment, favorite Game On Dude ran arguable the worst race of his career, finishing seventh overall. At the end, it was an epic duel between Mucho Macho Man and Fort Larned battling down to the finish line. Fort Larned was incredibly tenacious and held off a game Mucho Macho Man by half a length.
I think the thing that moved me the most was the look on Fort Larned’s jockey Brian Hernandez’s face as he returned to the winner’s circle. It was Brian’s birthday, and I’m guessing it will go down as a memorable one for him! He looked overjoyed, which is understandable, and he kept leaning over to pet Fort Larned in thanks.
Thank you guys for reading throughout the Breeders’ Cup season. It’s great to be able to talk to racing fans, especially after an event like this one. There are so many questions now up in the air about Horse of the Year honors. Who do you think should get the title? Royal Delta? Wise Dan? I’ll Have Another? Fort Larned? Let me know in the comments!