Spectacular sunrise at Santa Anita Park (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
Thursday morning was another spectacular time to be at Santa Anita Park, and with the Breeders’ Cup action kicking off tomorrow Clockers’ Corner was the place to be seen. The joint was jumping as media, photographers, fans and horsemen mingled to catch sight of the world’s best horses training for their respective races.
Since there were so many horses out today, I’ll run through them once again according to which races they’ll be in. Let’s do this!
I was lucky enough to see several Breeders’ Cup Classic runners today; the first new contender I saw today was Declaration of War, who’s coming in to the race from Great Britain. I was extremely impressed with his looks and attitude, and if he likes the dirt surface here he could be a real threat in that race.
Mucho Macho Man was out and about again. I love that horse – he’s so huge, and he just seems like the coolest dude. I hope he has a great day on Saturday!
Game On Dude was out and about, too. I actually got really close to him at one point, which was really fun! He’s such a kind-looking horse, and he is in amazing physical condition.
His stablemate Paynter was out, too. He’s got a serious chance on Saturday, but this Classic field is extremely tough.
It was great to see Flat Out again, too. With the defection of Ron the Greek (who had to scratch from the race when they discovered a quarter crack in his hoof this morning), Flat Out is the sole representative of trainer Bill Mott’s barn.
The last Classic horse I saw today was Moreno, who was schooling in the paddock. This is kind of a dress rehearsal for horses, who have a saddle put on them and then are led around the parade ring to practice for the big day. Moreno was definitely feeling good – he even threw in a pretty big buck! Aside from that, he was well-behaved but on his toes.
Now for the ladies! The Distaff is the feature race of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup program, and with good reason: there are six incredibly talented fillies and mares going into that race, and any one of them could win it. It’s very exciting!
And then I was able to catch last year’s champion 2-year-old filly Beholder paddock schooling. She looks amazing, and is definitely feeling her oats! She had a lot of fun bucking and playing around when she entered the walking ring, but soon settled down and acted like a lady. I love her chances on Friday and think I may bet her if her odds are reasonable.
On to the Dirt Mile! The only new horse that I saw today from that race was Golden Ticket. He’s the colt who finished in a dead heat for first in last year’s Travers Stakes, and he looks very good coming into this one. That’s his trainer, Kenny McPeek, standing next to him, by the way!
I found two new Filly and Mare Sprint contenders today. I love the looks of Judy the Beauty – although please note that she’s yet another horse sticking her tongue out at me. I’m starting to get a complex!
Summer Applause was definitely on her toes this morning. She clearly has a ton of energy, and may be a threat in Saturday’s race.
The Filly and Mare Turf is going to be a great race this year. One new horse that I saw today was Alterite – she looks fantastic, and seemed to be very comfortable on the track.
I also managed to catch sight of Laughing, whose had a fantastic year. She’s an Irish-bred, so maybe that explains why she got pretty sweaty this morning; although, to be fair, today was easily the warmest it’s been all week.
The Turf Sprinters were out in force today. The first one to come out was Capo Bastone, who is getting a lot of respect from people watching him this week.
I got to see Boat Trip, who was very relaxed as he approached the racetrack amid dozens of other horses waiting to train.
Havelock is representing Maryland in the Breeders’ Cup, and his rider had to work really hard to keep him from running off today – he’s clearly primed and ready for the Turf Sprint!
Dimension just jogged around the turf course today, but what a pleasant-looking horse he is! I would very much like to ride him as he’s an awesome mover and just seems like a cool dude.
The standout for me today, however, was Spring to the Sky: he just looked amazing, and when he was coming off of the racetrack I overheard his rider tell a friend that it was the second most fun she’d ever had on a horse. I was intrigued (and as nosey as always), so I asked her what the most fun time was. Without missing a beat and with a big smile on her face, she replied, “When I breezed him the other day!” OK, please take all of my money.
Turf contender Magician (love that name!) looked very professional and focused as he galloped this morning.
Teaks North looks absolutely fantastic. He’s going to be a very interesting horse to watch in the Turf, and I think he’s worth a bet at the right price.
I didn’t see too many Sprint contenders, but I finally managed to spot Secret Circle. He looks fantastic! I remember him fondly from the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail, and he looked great in his most recent start.
I know I’ve posted photos of defending Sprint champ Trinniberg in earlier blogs, but I had to post this one because the expression on his face is absolutely hilarious. He is just not impressed.
The new Juvenile Fillies Turf horse that I saw today was Ready to Act; she’s a well-put-together little horse, and she seemed very focused as she trained today.
But my heart is still with My Conquestadory in this race; if she can overcome post position 14 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, I think she’s the horse to beat.
I also spotted Marathon runner Cease today. And, yes, you’re seeing that correctly: he’s being escorted around by a unicorn. Don’t worry: I got a close-up. I love horse people on Halloween!
Juvenile Turf contender Home School got a chance to stretch his legs on the Santa Anita lawn this morning, and I’m here to tell you that he looked really, really good. While he was a little fractious training yesterday on the dirt, today was a totally different scenario on the grass. I like his chances more and more.
How great does Juvenile Fillies runner Sweet Reason look? I was very impressed by her movement and attitude out there today.
The other Juvenile Filly entrant I saw today was Rosalind. I had a photo of her yesterday, but I wanted to update you with some information. Apparently, she had a bit of a meltdown going onto the track yesterday and created quite a little scene at the entrance to the racecourse; I’m happy to report that today she behaved like a young lady and went about her business happily.
The only new Juvenile runner I saw today was Medal Count, who looked very good out there today. He wasn’t fazed at all by the scene at Clockers’ Corner and looked wonderful. (That’s Dirt Mile contender Alpha behind him in the first photo, by the way.)
Mile time! A few contenders for you (a brief one and then a long, long photo-heavy one. If you’re familiar with this blog you will not be surprised by who the subject of the latter is.)
Silentio looked well, putting in a strong pre-Mile gallop on the main track.
And then! And then and then! I got to see my favorite horse, Wise Dan. I was so excited – I’ve loved Dan horse for a long time, and his victory in last year’s Mile was one of my favorite racing moments of all time. So when it was almost time for him to gallop, I boogied back to his barn to chronicle the whole thing. I wasn’t alone in my excitement: even this goat was looking out for Dan’s arrival!
Finally, Dan emerged looking as well as I’ve ever seen him.
We were all eager to see him hit the track, so the goat decided to show him the way. That goat is freaking awesome.
I wasn’t the only human there to watch Dan by any stretch of the imagination; there was a huge crowd of media anxious to get a quote about the reigning Horse of the Year from trainer Charlie LoPresti.
Finally, it was time for Dan to get some exercise. He took a lap around the main track before hitting the turf course for a gallop.
When he did get on the grass, I was blown away by how he looked. This is a seriously fit racehorse, and he was pulling the arms off of his rider in an attempt to go faster. I am seriously incredibly excited for Saturday!
After seeing Dan, my morning continued to get even more awesome: I was invited over to Doug O’Neill’s barn to go see their Breeders’ Cup horses in person, and it was so much fun! I had a blast meeting all of their contenders (I’m a big Goldencents fan – we tweet each other a lot!) and Doug’s assistant Sharla was nice enough to show me around. Thank you so, so much!
Here’s Dirt Mile contender Goldencents himself enjoying some downtime in his stall:
I also got to meet Clenor, who’s running in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She’s very lovely in person and extremely athletic for a 2-year-old filly.
She’s a smart cookie to boot! She’s learned how to snort like a pig on command, and it’s the funniest thing in the world.
Doggie time! I love seeing the pooches that come to Clockers’ Corner in the mornings. I totally fell for this guy and had to stop and pet him. He was so soft! Instant and undying love.
I also spotted this cool customer. He’s found himself a slice of shade and was actively watching the horses train. I liked his style!
And finally, here’s Bob Baffert’s son Bode dressed as a hot dog. That kid is awesome.
Happy Halloween, everyone, and thanks for stopping by! I’ll be back soon with all of the Breeders’ Cup action coming out of Friday.