Family gatherings are usually full of embarrassing stories, tiny arguments and cheek pinching but my latest family gathering had none of those things. Ok, it may not have been a family gathering I was actually attending, but it felt like I was with family and close friends. Yesterday, Tuesday July 12, I was one of the privileged to enter the gates of Stonestreet Stables and meet Rachel Alexandra. I compare it to a family gathering because that is the feeling I got. Only close friends and family would surround me as I embarked on one of the most important days of my life (Only these other people can understand why this is the most important day of my life).
As your excitement builds, the farm workers welcome you to the ‘Land of all things Rachel’ and you quickly realize that you are NOT the only one having these feelings. You share a common bond with these people you have never met before and will probably never see again, but for a brief moment you are all the same. It was almost the same feeling I got when I became involved with this site. Through this site, I was able to make ‘friends’ based on our common bond of horseracing. At Stonestreet, I was able to make ‘friends’ with people based on a common bond…our love of Rachel.
It was refreshing to be there, to know that nobody there was about to bust out with why Zenyatta should have been horse of the year or why Ruffian will always be the queen of racing. All of these people, these strangers, were there to celebrate a great horse. They did not care if she ran second 3 times in 2010 or if she beat mediocre competition in 2009 or that she was not undefeated. They loved her just the same, despite the 3 second place finishes and despite any other fact that is going to be thrown at me in the comments below.
Stonestreet welcomed us all with open arms, first allowing each of us to leave a message for Rachel then we were escorted into a ‘house’ filled with Rachel pictures, a flat screen showing all of her races (win or lose), a framed article about Rachel from Vogue and her trophies. They allowed us to take photos at the gate, the Stonestreet sign and her trophies. With the heat index being 126° they offered us refreshments and drove us to the stable to meet with our favorite filly.
I was part of the first group to go up; we all stood there, waiting anxiously for her handlers to bring her out. We talked to each other; I met these strangers that eventually became the only people who could ever understand what I felt at that moment. They were my people, and we were all Rachel’s people. I met a woman from Colorado that flew in to meet up with her son from Houston with the sole purpose of meeting Rachel. We all gathered there, from all over, with different opinions and backgrounds and probably even different racing favorites but we all came together for Rachel.
The Stonestreet crew quickly brought out our Rachel Alexandra the Great; we took turns taking pictures with her and of her. We loved on her, petting her and kissing her every chance we got. Rachel, despite the heat and the pregnancy, was magnificent. She welcomed every picture, every embrace and every kiss. They allowed the full group about 45 minutes with her giving some of us time to wander into the barn to find her stall and photograph it. Along the way some of us got a chance to meet Hot Dixie Chick, who stood in her stall trying to figure out “what was going on out there”. She was just as gentle and appeared to enjoy the attention.
We all took turns once again, saying our good-bye’s to the reason that many of us even discovered horse racing. I heard many people thanking her, praising her efforts and giving their love. It was really quite a beautiful display.
When we returned to the house, each of us on the journey was presented with an 8x10 photo of ‘our’ horse. With that, the day was over. The memories of that day are something I will always remember. I will think about the staff of Stonestreet, how welcoming they were towards all of us; the strangers that came together because of their love for a horse; I will remember the woman who flew in from Colorado for a 45 minute meeting; and of course I will always remember what it was like to meet the reason for it all, Rachel.
If any of you would like to see more photos of my day with Rachel I will be posting more to my facebook page. The website is in my HRN profile RaTalk_Girl. Thanks for reading!!