Arrived at Churchill Downs this morning a little after 7:00am for the Dawn at the Downs. Just in time to see Musket Man and General Quarters jogging around the track. I barely saw Musket Man pass us by, but managed to snap some pictures. Not happy about how dark it was. The cloud coverage made for almost impossible lighting, and as track personnel were chastizing anyone for using flash on their cameras, I had a hard time taking decent shots, even with my ISO set at 1600. Papa Clem came out a little later and jogged around, not super impressive, and so too with the 3rd place finisher in the Arkansas Derby, Summer Bird. After the break came the new Derby favorite, I Want Revenge. Talk about timing, because as soon as he left the track, the rain began.
I Want Revenge worked impressively under Joe Talamo, effortlessly gliding over Churchill's surface. I see that he turned in the fastest work of the day at 47.2 over four furlongs.
All of the Derby contenders were marked by yellow saddle towels that bore their name. The Oaks contenders wore pink saddle cloths that showed thier name, too. Only Nan and Justwhistledixie worked out on the Oaks side of things today, but they weren't out very long to get a feel how they were handling the track. Yesterday, Rachel Alexandra turned in a blazing workout that made everyone think she'd win the Kentucky Derby, let alone the Oaks. A cool Louisvillian I talked to, Steve, said that Alexandra came around the turn with an impressive turn of foot, like she was just toying. Calvin Borel was reported to never even move on her during her work. I really wish she was in the Derby; by the sound of it, she'd give the boys a workout.
The rain put a damper on not only the fans trying to catch a glimpse of the horses, but also Zenyatta's workout. Word was she was supposed to work out today, but either this was speculation or it was cancelled due to the damp track. It hadn't become what I would call sloppy by 9:30am, but it was definitely getting muddy along the rail. I hope I get to see her tomorrow morning. I was all hyped up to see her, even more so than the Derby hopefuls!
In among all the horses working out, we also saw Indian Blessing breezing. She wasn't designated in any way, except she was wearing Bob Baffert's blue and yellow saddle cloth. I just saw this bay filly who looked very familiar and started snapping shots at her, and damn, did she look good over Churchill's dirt. When I pulled my e-mail up just a second ago, my suspicions were confirmed we were looking at Indian Blessing. Good thing I went for my gut instinct. :)
After the works, I headed over to Wagner's, where it took about an hour to get my food. I usually love the place for its horse racing wall of fame and history, but I get cranky when I'm not fed on time. This serendipitously led to me sitting directly across from Joe Talamo, who came in during my incredibly long wait for food. I resisted the urge to have him sign the cover of my DRF and write "This horse is going down." (Pioneerof the Nile is on the cover) But I wished him good luck on my way out.
I love being in Louisville during Derby week... it's all happening!