Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Photo Essay: Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs

I was at Churchill Downs on Saturday to enjoy the Stephen Foster which was won by Macho Again in a huge upset over the favoured Einstein. As this was my first trip to Kentucky, I snapped dozens of photos and even a little bit of video to chronicle what turned out to be an awesome day of racing.

What follows is a photo recap of my afternoon.

(As always, double left-click the photo to enlarge and click on your "Back" button to return to the blog.)

The cathedral that is Churchill Downs glows under a heavenly light

The view from the press box...

...and a view of the iconic Twin Spires

Pat Day waves at Jill Byrne over in the paddock...

...but Jill has her back turned.

Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel in all their glory at the Kentucky Derby Museum

A flowery tribute to equine heroine Eight Belles

The first race I ever watch live at Churchill Downs is won by Pure Polished in a photo finish over stablemate Stream Kid.

Calvin Borel - a bit bemused after losing the head bob for a win

Tony Farina seemed pretty pleased with his work!

Kiddari, a brilliant Smarty Jones filly, won the second race for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan

Bridgmohan gets a lift aboard Artic Run in the third race...

...but Garrett Gomez would lead Headdache to the winners enclosure

Robby Albarado won his first of five on the day with Perfect Easter in the 4th race.

While I took a break for a much-needed lemonade, Albarado won his second in a row with Free Brave. I returned to my track side post to watch Albarado hit the natural hat-trick with Hot Dixie Chick. This two -year old Asmussen filly broke the five furlong track record and her maiden in scintillating fashion.

Alan Garcia was in town and had the mount on Kiaran McLaughlin's Florentino..

..and Garcia did a great job to win the 34th running of the Jefferson Cup

The eighth race was the 12th running of the Northern Dancer - a GIII event run at a mile and a sixteenth. Successful Dan looked over at me and snorted that he had beaten my favourite Woodbine runner Southdale earlier this year at Keeneland.

Eight horses burst out of the gate in the Northern Dancer

At the finish it was Successful Dan fighting off the favourite, Warrior's Reward, to win by a head.

Julien Leparoux and the winning connections smile for the camera

Leparoux signed an autograph after the race - il est gauchere!

Aaron Gryder had the mount on Santa Teresita in the Fleur de Lis Handicap

Garret Gomez would guide Swift Temper...

but at the wire it's Calvin Borel and Miss Isella for the win!

After the race an animated Borel sponged down his hot filly

I was in the paddock taking video before the running of the Stephen Foster - please ignore my sun-stroked ramblings.

The race itself was a bit of a roller derby as Einstein was blocked and checked never really having a chance to get rolling. Albarado would surprise the punters by winning yet another Foster this time aboard Macho Again.

Following the Foster, I decided to enjoy the eleventh and final race from the grandstand with an adult beverage. As I happily popped open my drink, Chip Woolley limped through my path and said hello. Mine That Bird's conditioner is instantly recognizable with his famous black cowboy hat and he politely accepted my congratulations for taking a Woodbine horse to Kentucky Derby glory. Woolley signed my Derby program with a flourish and added "KD135" underneath his scrawl.

Albarado won his fifth race of the day in the final tilt aboard Keertana. All in all, a fantastic first trip to world-famous Churchill Downs. The people were very hospitable and the track itself was clean, fun and full of tradition. If you haven't yet made the trip to Churchill, you should.

I'll leave you with a shot of the infamous Churchill Downs Bo-rail.


Amateurcapper said...


Great shots and accompanying info...I am envious!

How'd you get so close to the winner's circle and turf course?

Thanks for sharing.

Ernie said...

Love the Bo Rail---how'd you do?

Keith - Triple Dead Heat said...

Thanks for the comments!

As I write for Down The Stretch newspaper, I was able to secure a press pass and had access to much of Churchill Downs. Most of the photos on this page were taken from ON the track during the race. Fun times!

Ernie - I hit a winner and exactor in the Successful Dan race but lost track of wagering as I was so wrapped up in photos and interviews. (I have audio with Leparoux, Bridgmohan and Albarado that will end up posted here at some point.)


The_Knight_Sky said...

Excellent Show 'n Tell session.

Who occupies the CD press box on non-Derby days?

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