Sunday, December 27, 2009

Breeders Cup 2009

One of the most memorable events of this semester was my trip to the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita. It all started with the Tuesday morning edition of the L.A. Times, which featured a full-page ad for $10 general admission tickets to the Breeders Cup which was taking place that Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7. I already had plans for Friday, and the races I really wanted to see were on Saturday anyway, so I gave Anthony my puppy-dog eyes, and he agreed to take me.

Now, I've been a fan of horse racing ever since the day, around 10 years ago, that I stayed home from school sick and found TVG, the 24/7 horse racing channel, on TV. However, I'd never gotten the opportunity to go to a really big race before, though I faithfully watched the Triple Crown every year, watched LOTS of TVG, and went to my local track, Emerald Downs, two or three times every summer. So, long story short, I was REALLY excited to be going to the Breeders Cup. I was also really excited that I'd get to see Zenyatta run in the Classic. Zenyatta is a mare, and was undefeated going into the Classic, a perfect 13 for 13. I'd seen her run on TV during the summer, and she looked really good. Not to mention the fact that everyone loved her. She was what you might call a people's horse - she had lots of fans. So naturally I was very excited to see her.

Our day at the races was good. I bet a few, lost a few, but won on Goldikova in the Breeders Cup Mile. That was pretty exciting. Finally, Classic time rolled around, so Anthony and I went down to the crowded paddock to watch the horses in the walking ring. We were about...3 rows back from the railing, so I couldn't see that well. I was able to see the horses better when they came out onto the main track for the post parade, and got some good pics of them. Loading into the starting gate took forever due to an unruly horse that had to be scratched eventually, but they finally loaded up and were sent away in the Classic! Zenyatta was last for most of the race, and had me really worried about whether or not she was going to catch up, but coming around the turn and at the top of the stretch, she made this fantastic move through and around the pack, and bore down to win by about a length. It was *quite* phenomenal. It was like a sports movie, only better. You know, one of those feel-good flicks where the people's favorite wins and everyone is cheering and clapping and yelling themselves hoarse at the end. That was what it was like when Zenyatta crossed the line in first, and when she came back around to the winner's circle. Everyone (including me) was clapping and cheering for her. I managed to get a few (sort of) decent pictures of her with a blanket of yellow roses on her back. Anyway, it was a great day and a great race. People are ranking Zenyatta up with some of the greatest race horses of all time, and her Classic will be one of those races that people look back on and remember as a truly great race.

Anyway, here are a few of my pictures from the Breeders Cup.

Breeders Cup banners on the grandstand.
The statue of the great Seabiscuit in the paddock.

Zenyatta in the post parade, before the Classic.
Zenyatta returns to the winner's circle after winning the Classic.

Zenyatta with the blanket of yellow roses, and jockey Mike Smith aboard.


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