Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beautiful Bluegrass: Day Two

I wrote this on the Thursday and Friday before the Breeders' Cup. It was the second full day of my trip. Due to being busy with the happenings of my trip, I was unable to post it until Saturday. Nothing was changed on Saturday. Enjoy.

It was still dark outside as we headed toward the track. The early morning air was crisp and the bright lights were shining down on the track. Suddenly, we came around a bend and my breath was whisked away.

Churchill Downs
Photo by Mary Cage
Before me was the clubhouse turn of Churchill Downs, the turn where many famous Kentucky Derby pictures have been taken. The majestic presence of the Twin Spires, lit in purple in honor of the Breeders’ Cup, loomed over the track. Over the dirt surface, Throughbreds jogged or galloped past, their snorts in sync with their strides. I was left absolutely breathless.

Horse after horse went by, many sporting Breeders’ Cup saddle towels. I read off the names as the classy horses went by. To name just a few, there was My Gi Gi, Brilliant Speed, Dean’s Kitten, Hoofit, Super Espresso, Rattlesnake Bridge, Giant Oak, Coalport, Midday, Irish Gypsy, Up, Misty For Me, Drosselmeyer, Jackson Bend, Big Drama, Euroears, and Get Stormy.
Of those, my personal favorite Euroears looked the best. When he came into my view, it was the first time in over a year I had seen him. I screeched his name and he pricked his ears, looking at me as his exercise rider smiled. Even without my bias towards him, he would have looked the best. He is still as beautiful as I remember him and his muscle tone is absolutely incredible.
Also, Classic contender and 2010 Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Drosselmeyer looked tremendous. He was composed and traveled over the track very well. Other horses that looked spectacular include Coalport, Jackson Bend, Big Drama, and Get Stormy.
We had to leave the track earlier than I wanted to, but I didn’t mind too much. We were headed to one of my favorite farms, Taylor Made. Driving into a beautiful sunrise, we arrived at the gorgeous farm and headed to the stallion barns. As we stepped into the first barn, we observed the striking Old Fashioned receiving a bath while a damp Northern Afleet nibbled at hay in his stall.
As we headed to the next stallion barn, I spotted a horse I had followed since his maiden: the brilliant Eskendereya. We walked up to the radiant chestnut, visiting with him. He was quite feisty, as he had just been bathed and wanted to be turned out, likely to roll in some mud to ruin his cleanliness.

Half Ours
Photo by Mary Cage

We then loved on the tremendous sire Unbridled’s Song before walking out to a lush paddock that held his son, Half Ours, who had been galloping friskily around his paddock when we arrived. He spotted us and eagerly jogged up to the fence, sticking his head between the boards. I reached up and stroked his face affectionately and the eight-year-old stood calmly, enjoying the attention. Unlike most stallions, he wasn’t nippy at all and was extremely quiet. After visiting with us for a bit, the beautiful dappled gray turned and walked a few yards away, raising his head and gazing into the distance. It was a beautiful sight to end a beautiful tour.
We then drove to Keeneland to see a specific horse that Taylor Made is consigning: Blind Luck. My heart was thudding with excitement as we grew closer to the magnificent racetrack. I was about to see one of my favorite racehorses of all time, who I had followed very closely since her fourth start. We strolled through the barn I knew she would be stabled in and I began to grow extremely anxious. We had walked by nearly every stall and I still had not spotted her. My mom told me to relax and reminded me that there were still a few stalls left. Sure enough, the champion filly was in the very last stall on the row we were walking along.

Blind Luck
Photo by Mary Cage

I caught my breath as I spotted the chestnut. My heart was racing and I literally felt breathless. Over and over, I told my mom I couldn’t breathe, despite the fact that I must have been grinning from ear to ear. Blind Luck was causing me to hyperventilate. I was starstruck.
I stood by her stall for a long time, tickling her nose and just drooling over her. It felt like I was dreaming. Suddenly, they pulled the six-time grade one winner out of her stall. I stood back and watched, still feeling breathless. I watched her for a long while, taking photographs and continuing to be starstruck.
After staying for quite some time, we left Keeneland and after we stopped for a bite to eat, we headed back to Taylor Made. It was time to see Pepper’s Pride. We saw her last year, but I was extremely excited about seeing her again.
Pepper's Pride
Photo by Mary Cage
We followed longtime Taylor Made resident and employee Levi Dunlap up to one of several broodmare barns. In the pouring rain, we headed into the barn and there she was, standing in the aisle. Her bay colt gleamed, her black legs sparkling clean. She gazed at us with her bright eyes, neighing whenever she heard another horse.
After visiting with Pepper’s Pride for quite some time, stroking her soft coat and feeding her peppermints, Levi Dunlap drove my mother and me up to another broodmare barn to visit a mare we had known for a long time: Hotlantic. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic had been trained by friends of ours, Dallas and Donna Keen. We had seen the gorgeous bay race many times and knew she was at Taylor Made. Dunlap was nice enough to let us visit her.

Photo by Mary Cage

After driving through the beautiful farm, we arrived at the barn in which Hotlantic resided. She was standing quietly in the aisle, being held by a groom. She still looked as stunning as she always has. I took a picture of her on my phone, sending it to Donna, who was thrilled that we were visiting Hotlantic. She told me to scratch her on the withers, so I walked up to the stakes-winning mare and did so, smiling as the seven-year-old relished the attention.
We then headed to the Kentucky Horse Park for a different part of the horse world: a horse show. We watched a hunter class at the Alltech National Horse Show, enjoying watching the talented horses. It was definitely different than watching racehorses, but I always enjoy watching horses try their hardest while doing what they love.

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