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The Week of Suck finished on a high note, with good weather and a very nice ride.  The ground has softened up with the rain we've had, enough that we were able to really let them roll a little bit.  Looking forward to next week again, with my mind back in the right place.
Rode Moe.  Was going nice all morning.  Horse came up on the outside of us, and I promptly got run off with.  I got him back after nearly T-boning another rider (I did manage to steer behind her path) and then the other guy who was also getting run off with narrowly missed colliding with us as I tried to turn him to the inside.  I wanted to turn him to the inside sooner, but the other guy was on the inside and I wanted to avoid turning into him.  When I thought I was clear because I couldn't see him, I turned in, and later found out he got dumped.

Getting frustrated and depressed.

This week has been a Week of Suck.
This sums up beautifully how it is.

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/20101108_Dick_Jerardi__Zenyatta_s_finale_was_a_ride_to_remember.html?viewAll=y

The barn was business as usual this morning.  Stalls were picked, horses were groomed and tacked, I had a very nice ride on a horse that is right about my level right now named Graham.  There was talk of Zenyatta, and of Goldikova (and a little talk about the unfortunate Rough Sailing), and of jockey fights and Shame on ESPN for focusing so redundantly on that.

The days move on towards winter, and it feels like we're all still holding our breath, like we never let it out after that incredible drive to the wire.

Nov. 7th, 2010

Here's the photos I took from the Breeder's Cup, just Saturday.  Just to warn you all, I'm not really the world's best photographer and it was really difficult to get a good spot to see anything from.  But I did the best I could!  The ones of Zenyatta are mostly blurry or with people/saddling stalls in the way, but I didn't really want to exclude them.

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v484/GhostCatStudios/NARA2010/

All Good Things

I've been saying all year that Blame was the one to beat, and if he and Zenyatta hooked up, it would go to whichever horse could get the better trip.  Blame had the perfect trip, and Zenyatta had a horrible one-- and only missed by inches.  I will say, hands down, without a doubt, after watching what I saw unfold on that track yesterday:

Zenyatta is the greatest race horse of this age.

I am so grateful and awed to have been able to see her run in person, in what may have been her greatest race of her career.   Even in defeat, she showed the heart of a champion, and laid that heart out on the track for all the world to see.  You can't take anything away from her, and those that try are only sour that she was able to prove her naysayers wrong.

Blame may have won the Classic, but there's no doubt who the better horse was, in this onlooker's opinion.
It's that time again: Breeder's Cup time!

I'm watching from home tonight; we rode as usual this morning and I'm fighting with the onset of a nasty chest cold. Tomorrow, though I'll be at Churchill Downs for the in-person experience.

The weather has taken a sudden turn for the cold and windy in the last week. The horses like it; there's a spring in their step, and they are bright and full of energy. Polo is a model horse to be around. He is patient and kind, and is an easy keeper. I haven't ridden him yet, but everyone that has really enjoys him.
I've been riding a little dun quarter horse named Zoom. It's a pretty appropriate name-- I really enjoy riding him, and feel like things are finally starting to click.

We've been taking a few field trips lately; on Monday we went to Churchill Downs to watch Breeders Cup contenders work, and met some of the biggest names in the business on the backside. We spoke at length with Pat Day and Otto Thorwath (who some of you may better know as Ron Turcotte in the new Secretariat movie). Then we met Wayne D. Lukas and Todd Pletcher, and watched several horses work on the track, including undefeated Juvenille starter Biondetti and champion Informed Decision.

Tonight we'll see her in action in the Filly & Mare Sprint. I'll update this as the races run!

Marathon:
HO SHIT WHAT. Drama in the Marathon, holy crap.
Castellano's horse came out for a hole that wasn't even there and cut off Martin Garcia's horse, Romp. Romp clipped heels, actually went down, unseated Garcia, who held on to the horse's neck and somehow managed to pull both himself -and- his horse back up by using Borel's horse to push off of. Borel, meanwhile, had to take up sharply because of both Romp clipping heels and Garcia coming off into him and nearly went down himself.
And so, in front of the racing world during the most watched Breeders Cup in history, Borel and Castellano decide to let fists fly on major network television.
Borel was absolutely enraged. I know the move was absolutely stupid of Castellano and you can bet he'll get days for that alone-- but come ON guys. This is the sport of kings, not hockey.

Oct. 10th, 2010

So today, this happened:



Between Sunday barn chores and my part time job, I pretty much literally -ran- to Keeneland to meet my hero Mike Smith for two minutes.  AND WHAT AN EPIC TWO MINUTES.

Many thanks to NARA graduate Ben Creed (who is riding at Keeneland and is doing -very- well for himself) for manning the camera. 

(And of course my eyes were closed-- never fails!)

Tomorrow we return from Fall Break (if you've been wondering where I disappeared to), and we've been assigned different horses to take care of, just to keep things fresh.  I'll be taking care of a TB named 'Polo.'  He's got a laundry list of tiny ailments but is sound and very sweet.  I'm looking forward to the second half of the semester.  I'll put up some of the photos I've been meaning to share soon!
Zenyatta the Queen.  For now, for all time.
The icon actually isn't that appropriate, since I think the majority of the horse racing community has just been holding their breath waiting for this unsurprising announcement.

Rachel Alexandra retired, despite turning in several bullet works recently.

Remember that post where I said 'raise your hand if you saw this coming' when they ducked the Apple Blossom?

Yeah, you're free to raise the other one now.

-raises hand-

Guess the Classic is just shaping up to be too tough, with Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, Rail Trip, etc........ I find it hard to believe that, the way she's been working like a pro according to the clocker's reports, she doesn't have one more race in her, whether the Classic or the Distaff, like they've been saying -all along- for the last two years.  I don't get it.  It's at her home track.  It's dirt.  The Distaff is her 'ideal distance.'

To be honest, I'm glad, despite my scoffing about the timing.  She never -did- return to form and I'd rather remember her as a champion than a has-been.

(Except that this kind of makes me gag a little.  I'm sure it's a good hypothetical mating, but something about the way he says it just makes me all kinds of *eyeroll.*

"We are eager to introduce Rachel to Curlin. Imagine what possibilities those two super horses might produce," Jackson concluded.")

Guuhhhh. 

Sep. 18th, 2010

Since there was a little interest, I've gone ahead and made a Facebook for this blog.  http://www.facebook.com/gatetowire.fb   <--here!

The students at NARA get Saturdays off-- it's a day to recover our brains and bodies, and help prevent burnout.  I'm grateful for this day off, since I'm a little more banged up than I had wanted to be.  I have some serious concerns (to the point of "I should see a doctor about this") about my right ankle, which has been nothing but problematic, and the fingers of my left hand, which feel like I have pulled every tendon and ligament in them to the breaking point.  Flexing them (and holding reins) makes them ache like I punched something at a bad angle, and waking up every morning is actual agony.  I have to use my other hand (which is stiff as well, but not like the left) to forcibly curl the fingers into a fist a few times to get them to loosen up.  It's been this way for two weeks now.  I've been treating both the ankle and the fingers with some IcyHot, but I'm sure I should see someone about them before I do myself serious long-term injury.  Hopefully I can be nice to both of them this weekend, and let them recover enough to ride with less pain next week. 

So, with nothing else to do today, I figure I'll go kill some time at Keeneland again!  I live about 10 minutes from the track, and I've already been down to the yearling sales twice, but both times I neglected to bring my camera.  I was there when Zenyatta's nephew sold, and saw this guy go, as well.  I stood next to Bob Baffert for about twenty minutes the first day (though I didn't want to bother him, so I didn't speak to him), and Chip Woolley the second (to the same effect).  I saw Todd Pletcher walk behind me, and have seen some absolutely beautiful babies.  What amazed me most about the first night (which was the opening night of the Select Sale) was how fast those numbers in the pricetags climb while the auctioneer is calling.  They don't raise by the 500s, or the 1000s, like they do at the Minnesota Yearling Sale--- they raised by the -fifty-thousands- (and the ten-thousands during the regular books).

It's good to see that there seems to be a healthy appetite for yearlings this year; I think that cutting back the number of horses in the sale and changing the format of the books has helped.  

This time, I'll bring the camera and share some of the action with you!

In other news--- New Bute Rule is a Go.

"The unanswered question by those in opposition to the proposed policy change is why a horse in pain requiring an administration of phenylbutazone at their suggested level should be racing."

THIS THIS THIS.