Photo: Terri Cage
Please enjoy the second installment of my “2013 Breeders’ Cup
Highlights” series, which features the greatest personal moments of my Breeders’ Cup experience.
Highlight Two: Morning Works
My teeth chattering as I walked toward the grandstand in the dark, I
immediately grabbed a delicious hot chocolate at Clocker’s Corner before heading
to my favorite spot along the rail – near the gap and right by the far turn. I
desperately clung to the cup holding my hot chocolate, relishing the warmth it
brought to my hands as I gazed across the dimly lit track as Thoroughbreds
stood in the chute, jogged by along the outside rail, galloped down the center
of the track, or breezed down the inside fence.
Gradually, the sky would become lighter, illuminating the breathtaking San
Gabriel Mountains that act as the backdrop as you gaze across the racetrack at Santa Anita Park. Eventually, the sun
would shine down the stretch of the track, illuminating the grandstand and
racetrack with an orange glow.
Watching the works from Clocker’s Corner offered the opportunity to mingle with
some of racing’s greatest personalities. Journalists worked tirelessly to find
the next great story to share with racing fans, trainers kept a watchful eye on
their charges, jockeys and exercise riders stopped by occasionally for
interviews or to chat with friends, and a mass of racing enthusiasts gathered
to see the Thoroughbreds traveling along the track.
Frequently, a horse wearing a Breeders’ Cup saddle towel – each color-coded and
number-coded in relation to each horse’s race – would travel past, attracting
the attention of all those that gathered at the track to watch the morning. The
crowd would grow abuzz as cameras clicked and voices uttered the name of the
horse before them.
Time spent at the gap during a renovation break offered an opportunity to get
up-close and personal with the stars of racing. Game On Dude would stand along the rail, turning his head and
eyeing his admirers as he begged for a treat. Hymn Book would stand at the top of the chute, his head up, his
eyes alert, and his ears forward as he gazed at his surroundings, garnering loving
murmurs of “Hymn-y” from his adoring fans gathered along the fence. Secret Circle would stand inches from
the rail, his head up as he stared at his environment. Royal Delta would strut up from the barns to stand in the chute,
her neck outstretched as she posed for the cameras.
A stroll along the backside offered unique glimpses at the equine stars. They
walked along the shedrow, received baths as steam lifted off their backs, and
walked along the horse path toward the track for their morning exercise. Past
Breeders’ Cup champions wore the sheets that had the name of the race they had
captured stitched into the fabric as they ambled alongside grooms and
hotwalkers, cooling out after jogging or galloping on the track.
Time spent at morning works granted me with a multitude of memorable moments.
New friends – horses and humans – were made, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever
tasted was savored, and the beauty and magnificence of the Thoroughbred
racehorse was on display in one of the most beautiful settings one could