Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back Home In One Piece

Whew! What a weekend!

We left San Jose on Thursday afternoon and got into Burbank about an hour later, picked up our rental car, and bolted to the Doubletree in Monrovia. Chelle surprised me by having booked a room with an Infinity Tub, so we had a great time ordering room service and relaxing in the whirlpool. Early to bed.

The next morning, we were up at the crack of dawn to drive to Santa Anita racetrack and catch morning works. We had breakfast at Clocker's Corner with Sharla of the Second Race and her friend Deidre, who is part-owner of a horse trained by Doug O'Neill, Diplo, who was to run a good race later on in the day. Afterwards, we toured the backside and swung by Julio Canani's barn to pay homage in treats to The Pamplemousse (a Derby hopeful last year, until he was injured), whom we renamed "Hoover" because that horse will eat whatever you offer to him. Seriously, The Pamplemousse suctioned up carrots better than any Dyson.

We also stopped briefly to say hello to trainer Bob Baffert, who was keeping his fingers crossed for his horse Lookin At Lucky (who was to try dirt at Oaklawn in the Rebel Stakes the next day--and he won! Way to go, Lucky!) I should also add that Baffert's dog came over, wagging his tail, and got right down to business sniffing in places I didn't want him to be sniffing...but hey, it's not everybody who can say that Bob Baffert's wife apologized to her because their dog had its muzzle where dogs sometimes stuff them.

Later on that day, we caught Zenyatta schooling in the paddock before the third race at Santa Anita, getting ready for her race in the Santa Margarita the next day. Scroll down the page for a short video of that.

Saturday was a great racing day, excepting the fact that both Chelle and I were fighting off colds. But that wasn't going to keep us away from the track! On a 10-race card, I hit 3 legs of both Pick 4s, so it was one of those days where I had correctly picked 6 right out of 8, yet won no money. Where I did win money was by betting against Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies. The horse I chose was John Shirreff's Zardana (solely because he also trains Zenyatta), and she beat Rachel! Paid $21, having gone off at 9-1.

And then came Zenyatta's race, which she won, making her record 15-for-15. What can I say? It was exhilarating to see her in person and to see her split horses to surge to the front, all without Mike Smith even having to ask her. She has a way of going that simply makes running look effortless. Once she kicks into full stride, she swallows up the track and picks the other horses off easily, one by one. I have posted video of her below, and of her winning the race, but here she is, prancing in the paddock before the race:

Finally, today, we were up early again to head over to Hollywood Park to check that track out (before it's torn down like Bay Meadows). We had the great pleasure of meeting Doug O'Neill, who was completely accommodating in our wish to visit with racing's most profitable claimer, Lava Man. Retired now, but gelded long ago, he's being retrained as a pony horse. He had just come in from working and we got to pat him, feed him a carrot, and watch him get a bath, Mr. Millionaire himself:

Chelle's got some great photos, but they're presently in her camera, so as soon as she's downloaded those, I'll try to post a few. And now I'm exhausted, and I have an 8:00 class to teach tomorrow morning, so it's early to bed for me.

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