Wednesday was another spectacular day at Santa Anita Park, and I was more than excited to get to the track and check out even more of the Breeders’ Cup horses. When I arrived at the Great Race Place, the joint was already jumping and there was a huge crowd on hand to take in the action.
I also managed to time my arrival really well; as soon as I got there, a contingent of horses headed from the barns and onto the turf course to get a feel for the Santa Anita lawn. I happily followed them out there and was treated to some amazing sights that I’d love to share with you.
The first thing that got me whizzed up was seeing The Fugue. She’s a European superstar and I’ve been dying to lay eyes on her all week. She’ll be taking on the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and she looks more than capable of the task.
It was a thrill to see her! She looked very, very happy on the turf course, too. I very much like her chances on Saturday.
Another European invader that I was excited to see was Dank; she’s in from Great Britain and I absolutely loved the way she galloped over the grass this morning. She could be a monster in the Filly and Mare Turf!
The third horse to take advantage of the open turf course was Chriselliam, an Irish-bred who will be running in the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday. She, too, seemed to relish being out on the lush grass and I was very impressed by her movement as well as her maturity.
After that, it was time to take in the main track training hours. Since I got photos of so many great horses again today, let’s get back to our program from earlier and go race by race. Ready? Let’s hit it!
The only new Marathon contender I saw today was Commander. He was definitely on his toes and ready to go: the pony accompanying him definitely had his work cut out for him!
I did get to see two new Turf Sprint contestants. Spring To The Sky looked very at ease on the racetrack and he was galloping very professionally.
Handsome Mike is one aptly named horse: he really is a looker, and he was extremely strong as he travelled around the track.
Juvenile Turf horse Shamshon is an Irish arrival – he’s a fit, happy-seeming horse and he should be a contender.
Diamond Bachelor really impressed me. He has a tremendous stride on him and really floated over the track surface. He may be my pick for this year’s Juvenile, and I’m excited to see what he does in his career.
Mexikoma was very much at ease galloping, and he seemed to be a very mature, sensible horse out in heavy traffic on the racetrack.
Medal Count was hardly tired from his exercise this morning, and was bouncing on his toes on the way back to his barn. In what you will come to see as a theme from today, he stuck his tongue out at me. That’s been happening to me a lot this year; are these horses trying to tell me something?
Sprint runner Majestic Stride is eye-catching, isn’t he? His coat looks fantastic and he has a ton of presence. He’ll be interesting to watch on Saturday for sure.
Broadway Empire looked great: he was happy and calm and totally relaxed as he waited for his turn to go to the track.
I took quite a few photos of Verrazano: I’ve been a fan of his since he won the Tampa Bay Derby back in March and I thought his Haskell performance this year was really awesome. While he didn’t seem stressed out at all as he walked onto the racetrack, I did notice that he got pretty sweaty in the process of his gallop. While it was certainly warmer than yesterday out at Santa Anita this morning, it definitely wasn’t hot; so I hope that he’s mentally prepared for the scene on Saturday. That having been said, he never displayed any outward signs of nervousness and who knows? Maybe he just sweats a lot. Some horses do that.
There were two new Mile runners out and about today. The first one I saw was Olympic Glory, who was really on his toes! He was bouncing around like a rubber ball, so I think he’s probably very ready for Saturday’s action.
Za Approval was pretty much the opposite of him: he was calm, happy and relaxed and seemed very happy to be in Southern California. I know just how he feels.
The only new Filly and Mare Turf contender that I saw this morning was Qushchi; she looked great going over the track, but selfishly I don’t really want her to win because spelling her name is kind of a nightmare.
Over to the Juvenile Fillies Turf! One two-year-old filly that I saw who really impressed me was Colonel Joan. I thought she was absolutely beautiful and she seemed very sensible amid the chaos of training hours.
Testa Rossi caught my eye; she seems like a tough little horse although she definitely still has some growing to do.
I very much liked Vorda as she exercised; she’s extremely mature looking and was very workmanlike in her gallop.
I saw tons of Juvenile Fillies candidates this morning! One of the sweetest moments of the morning was courtesy of Secret Compass: she was the winner of the Chandelier Stakes here last month, and I kind of fell in love with her then.
Clearly, though, my love has nothing on how Secret Compass’s exercise rider feels about her! It was adorable how much affection was shared between the two of them.
Please notice that she’s sticking her tongue out at me. Sigh.
Then Secret Compass looked over at her stablemate Tap It Rich as if to say, “We have these foolish humans just where we want them, don’t we?”
Another Juvenile Filly that I spotted was She’s A Tiger. I was impressed by her demeanor and poise on the track as she jogged around in the morning training traffic.
Rosalind is a nice, athletic filly. I liked the way she walked, with a big singing stride that had lots of impulsion.
I saved you the best for last: the Classic horses and the Distaff!
I barely spotted Classic favorite Game On Dude this morning. He was playing peek-a-boo behind the starting gate and it was almost impossible to get a photo of him. I managed, though! Well, sort of managed, anyway.
I also got to see Paynter: he looks absolutely fantastic, and as I said in my Monday blog: I would not be surprised if he finished in the top three in the Classic.
Friday’s Distaff will be a race for the ages. Royal Delta put in a really strong gallop this morning in preparation for it, and I’m here to tell you that she looks amazing. She was trying to pull the arms off of her rider and her expression throughout the gallop was one of pure delight. The photo below is one of my favorites that I’ve ever taken.
I was also very impressed by Close Hatches when I saw her today. She’s kind of flying under the radar due to Royal Delta, Beholder and Princess of Sylmar’s buzz, but don’t forget about her. Close Hatches looks really, really good.
That’s about it for the four-footed stars of the show today, but I do have just a few more photos that I’m dying to show you. First of all, is this not the best face? I love older dogs, and this guy was so dignified and patient as I took his photo. I couldn’t resist him!
And this pair was just hilarious. Dogs in costumes are always hilarious at Halloween, but their owner really hit the nail on the head for training hours! Pretty fun.
That’s it for me today! Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll try to get photos of lots more horses to share with you tomorrow. Until then, have fun and get excited for the Breeders’ Cup!