Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Breeders' Cup experience: Thursday shenanigans

After getting my hopes up about the Kentucky Derby, only to have them shot down, I didn't want to get excited about the Breeders' Cup. It was sort of devastating, to be told your lifelong dream-come-true is going to happen, only to find out a week before you leave on the trip that actually, there was a mistake and there wasn't enough credentials for you. (Yes, this actually happened to me.) So all the while I drove down to Louisville, I kept expecting to get a text message or a phone call breaking the news to me in the ninth hour that I wouldn't be credentialed to shoot the Breeders' Cup World Championships after all. I was almost expecting it, all the way up till I went to the Galt House Hotel to pick up my press credentials. It wasn't until I looked down at my name printed on the thick plastic card did I finally feel the pressure release and let myself believe that it really was going to happen. I was seriously about to shoot the biggest two days in racing I'd ever witnessed in my life. What was more, I was going to have a front-row seat to one of the single greatest races of my generation: the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, where the great Zenyatta would make her career bow.

That being said, I had prepared a little by creating a “Horse Racing Playlist” on my iPod, which consisted mostly of songs I pictured Zenyatta war-dancing to in the Classic, as well as songs that would dramatically illustrate the pounding hoofs of the field turning for home, and the angelic chorus that would sound as the big mare began to unwind her devastating late kick. So I guess a little part of me did want to believe in miracles. Thankfully, I wasn’t denied mine this time around. This playlist was my constant background music the entire Breeders' Cup, pumping me up each morning and preparing me for the the final showdown at the end of it all. By the time I was shooting the races, "Kashmir" was ingrained in my radiohead on a constant loop.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Meet my new boy, Tapizar

Official photo finish of the 2010 Travers
In December 2009, I was lucky enough to have TVG running in the background on a cold, shut-in kind of day when I happened to witness the debut of a 2-year-old at Aqueduct named Afleet Express. I was immediately impressed by his sheer talent to overcome a rollercoaster of a trip to rally from last and breeze past his rivals while still acting green in the stretch. This was a big ball of potential, and I hung on his every workout and race thereafter. If you followed horse racing in 2010, you will know then how I was rewarded with the ultimate pay-off for my loyalty: Afleet Express hung on to win the Grade I Travers by a nose to Fly Down that summer. It was one of the highlights of my year, to say the least--I was screaming like a flaming banshee, my shrieks piercing the windows of my living room and alerting the neighborhood to what they likely thought was my murder. My vocal cords were practically shredded by the time the horses galloped back from that race. I hadn't bet on that race (as I bet maybe twice a year, and only if I happen to be at the track), but I still had my $2 win ticket from my trip to Saratoga when I saw him run in the Jim Dandy, proof of my devotion.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm sure most of you have heard my news by now, but in case you haven't...

I won the 2010 TBA photo contest!

What's a bigger surprise, Thoroughbred Times actually wrote up a short article about it. You can read it here.

Go here to see my page where I thanked practically everyone outside of my dog and cat (But they actually deserve to be thanked for keeping me sane, so thanks, kids!). I hope I didn't blather on too much. I really was humbled by the voting. And thanks to the readers of this blog, who helped me pick out what photo to submit! You guys obviously have great taste. :-)

The Pied Piper of Arlington