There is a certain magic to the day of a big Triple Crown prep race; the anticipation I was talking about in yesterday’s blog is doubled the morning of raceday. I headed over to the track bright and early to get a little work done in the world’s greatest office, also known as Clocker’s Corner.
I also used the time to catch a livestream of the Grand National, England’s greatest steeplechase (or jumping) race. This, of course, resulted in a crowd of about 15 racing fans gathered around my laptop sharing the experience together. It was a great race, and a horse called Auroras Encore won it; he was 66-1, and I was totally kicking myself since I have a cousin named Aurora and it would have been a very profitable hunch bet. But, hey, that’s horse racing, and since everyone ended up having a good time I still call it a win.
After watching the Grand National, there was another race to take note of, this one at Santa Anita: every year before the Santa Anita Derby, the track hosts a 5k foot race to benefit local high schools and retired racehorses. It’s a huge event – it seems like the entire town of Arcadia showed up!
Once the humans’ race was over, Derby Day was ready to truly begin! There’s something about Santa Anita that brings out serious style in people, and it was so great to see people flaunting their fashion for a fantastic afternoon of racing.
I mean, how adorable are these girls in their awesome hats and sneakers? As someone who runs around racetracks all day, I totally dug their fabulous headgear and comfy shoes.
It was also really great to see so many people at the track and enjoying a beautiful day at the races. There were kids and families, huge groups of friends, seasoned racegoers and new fans alike. And why not? The racetrack really is for everyone.
Aside from the afternoon’s races, Santa Anita Park makes a big effort to give its attendees all sorts of options while they’re at the track. On Saturday, the track had a wide selection of food trucks in the infield. Believe me, I was pretty much drooling as I was taking pictures.
The entire infield was jumping – there were plenty of fans there to take in the racing, the food and the fantastic weather and atmosphere.
Plus, the track even offered live entertainment; check out this beautiful mariachi dancer. She was so talented and graceful, and a huge crowd gathered around to watch her perform.
But racing fans are at the track to watch the action, no? I loved seeing the infield crowd get in the game and cheer on their picks as horses battled it out to the wire.
Once I got back to the main part of the racetrack, I ran into Ms. Racing Queen, Tatiana Schoeppler, as she was about to be interviewed on the track’s in-house TV channel. I first met her in Miami over the Florida Derby, and she’s awesome. She’s really bright and approachable, and she’s rapidly developed a love for our sport. I really look forward to seeing her interact with other new fans and bring more people into the greatest game in the world.
After that, I had to hustle to get to a production meeting in the NBC trailers. This is when we go over the game plan for the live broadcast and discuss everything from storylines to what to do if a camera or microphone doesn’t work. It’s fascinating, and everyone from the camera operators to the graphics team to the on-air talent are there to participate. Here’s Donna Barton-Brothers, Christina Blacker, Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Randy Moss getting ready for their closeups.
After the production meeting, I had just enough time to boogie outside and catch Beholder winning the Santa Anita Oaks. She really is a tremendously talented filly, and she should be one to watch along with Dreaming of Julia in May 3rd’s Kentucky Oaks, the sister race to the Kentucky Derby.
Then it was time to get in the production trucks and get your tweets featured on the NBC broadcast! Here I am looking like an air-traffic controller. I felt like such a rock star in that headset.
So while I couldn’t be on the track to witness Goldencents take home the Santa Anita Derby, it was awesome to not only hear all of your thoughts on the race, but to be able to integrate them into the NBC broadcast.
So that’s it for my time at Santa Anita. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you all a little later on for the action out of Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes! Until then, I’ll leave you with a few more photos of Santa Anita Derby Day.