This morning Woodbine’s Keith McCalmont treated me to a tour around the barn area to meet more of the contenders who will be running in Sunday’s Woodbine Mile as well as to see some of the top horses stabled here year-round.
The first Woodbine Mile contender I got to see was Za Approval. I’m an absolute sucker for gray horses – I think they’re so pretty – but Za Approval wasn’t returning the love. I believe he shipped in early this morning, so I hope he was just cranky and it wasn’t personal!
The next horse we got to see is the one I was most excited for: Wise Dan! Regular readers of my blog know that I’m borderline obsessive about this horse; if you’re not familiar with him, go to YouTube and check out some of his wins. He’s an awesome, gutsy fighter of a horse … and he’s really pretty, too.
Wise Dan had arrived from his home in Lexington, Ky., this morning at about 5 a.m., but he was fresh as a daisy as he went outside to stretch his legs and grab a snack of grass.
It’s a strange thing to think that last year at the Woodbine Mile when I asked Keith if I could meet Wise Dan, we were the only ones there to see him. One Horse of the Year title later and Dan’s got himself full-fledged paparazzi! I feel like a Wise Dan hipster – is that even a thing?
Even some Canada geese showed up to check him out.
After we were all finished basking in the awesomeness that is Wise Dan, it was time to meet up with some of Woodbine’s in-house stars. First up we visited Ready To Act, a 2-year-old filly who’s going to run in tomorrow’s Natalma Stakes. I caught her in the middle of a beauty session, but her groom was kind enough to let me snap a quick photo.
Up next was Stormy Len, who will be running in Sunday’s Northern Dancer Turf Stakes. He was a total ham and struck tons of poses for the camera.
Photo below is kind of blurry, but I’m including it because he’s the second horse to stick his tongue out at me in two days. Should I be worried about that?
After Stormy Len was done mocking me, we went to go visit Forte Dei Marmi, who’s also running in the Northern Dancer. It took some googling, but it turns out that Forte Sei Marmi is named for a coastal Italian town, which is very appropriate because both the horse and the city are beautiful!
We also got to see Are You Kidding Me. I met him last year, and he’s still a very sweet (but now much richer, having won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes in his last start!) horse. He’s trained by Roger Attfield, who’s in both the Canadian and American Racing Halls of Fame, and Attfield is known for giving his horses stuffed animals as companions. If you know this about him, it’s very sweet; but it occurred to me that if you walked into his barn without that context and you just saw a bunch of brightly colored but filthy stuffed animals hanging by their necks outside of each stall that it would be pretty disconcerting. I may have to pull that as a prank on someone one day.
I have to show you this cute little horse that I saw in the Attfield barn; she had poultice (a kind of soothing mud mask) on her legs, and somehow managed to get a perfect spot around her eye. She seemed so proud of herself.
I mean, she doesn’t she look JUST like the doggie from “The Little Rascals”?
No Explaining, below, is another of Attfield’s trainees. She’s going to run in Sunday’s Canadian Stakes. She’s a lovely mare, with incredibly delicate features and beautiful eyes.
Our last stop in Attfield’s barn was also my favorite: I got to meet Perfect Timber, who’s running in the Northern Dancer on Sunday, and he is such a sweetheart. He’s a giant of a horse, but he’s about as kind and friendly as any child’s pony. I’m a little bit in love with him.
I think he liked me, too. Or at least he liked my hair, since he tried to snack on it – he never actually bit down, but instead just kind of grabbed it and held onto it for a while. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!
Thanks to Keith McCalmont for the photo!
We stopped to have a quick cup of coffee and warm up in the track kitchen, where I spied this old cartoon. That’s a glam cigarette holder you have there, horse.
We heard that Wise Dan’s trainer, Charlie LoPresti ,was arriving at the track from his flight from Kentucky, so Keith and I boogied over to the barn where Dan is stabled with the video team from Sportsnet 360, which is Canada’s ESPN. They’re doing a big piece on Wise Dan’s quest for his second Woodbine Mile win, and they wanted to talk to Charlie about the horse. I just wanted to tag along because it meant I got to see Wise Dan again. Like I mentioned above, I’m a little obsessed.
Charlie was happy to oblige the reporters, answering each question about himself and his horse.
Dan, on the other hand, was pretty much done with the media for the day; he had no interest in appearing on camera.
This adorable little filly, however, was ready for her close-up. She kept nudging Keith every time he turned his back on her to get a quote from LoPresti. Poor Keith had to break it to her very gently that the camera crew wasn’t there for her.
After the crew from Sportsnet 360 had everything they needed, we headed back to the frontside to enjoy an afternoon of racing - well, racing and some work, too, but when your office looks like this it’s hardly a chore to do your job.
And as regular readers will know, it’s almost impossible for me to get through a blog without mentioning food, so here’s today’s cuisine update in PSA form: when you come to Woodbine, please make sure to try a roast beef sandwich. It is seriously amazing: the roast beef is sliced right in front of you, it’s piping hot, gravy and horseradish sauce are involved and it’s served on an onion roll. All of this and a side of pickles. It’s basically heaven on a plate and you need to bite on it as soon as possible.
That’s all for today; thanks for stopping by, and let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or if you’re going to be at Woodbine this weekend and want to meet up!