Most Memorable 2010 Breeders' Cup Moments

1. Visiting with trainers and jockeys during cold mornings on the Churchill Downs backstretch during the week before the Breeders Cup…I especially enjoyed my chat with trainer Steve Hobby in barn 15, where he told me all about his longshot BC Turf contender, Telling. I was really rooting for this horse; it would have made for a great story, considering Hobby’s wife serves as the horse’s groom. Unfortunately, Telling finished unplaced in the race for the second year in a row.

2. Speaking with the renowned Cot Campbell and his wife, Anne, of the Eclipse award-winning Dogwood Stables at the White Horse Luncheon Thursday, Nov. 4 at Churchill’s Triple Crown Room. Anne made me feel better about wearing jeans at such a glamorous occasion where many donned suits and ties. She was all smiles, dressed comfortably in jeans and a green-and-yellow polka dot sweater representing the colors of Dogwood. Cot and I didn’t talk much about his two Breeders’ Cup contenders Aikenite and Atoned, who both finished eighth and in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. III) respectively. Interestingly, we instead conversed mostly about his pensioned stallion Wallenda, a grade I winner on the track who now resides at Old Friends equine retirement facility in Kentucky. The following is Cot Campbell’s explanation of his connection to Wallenda and the story behind his name:
“Michael (Blowen, Old Friends founder and president) had called and said (Wallenda) was in Japan and nobody would breed to him, so they were going to put him down if we didn’t do something. I ended up buying him for $10,000 and bringing him back. The flying Wallenda’s came and performed (at Wallenda’s coming home party), and it was delightful. The Wallendas were great fans of the horse while he was racing. I had seen the senior Wallenda (Karl) walk across Tallulah Gorge (in Georgia), which is 1,700 feet with a 1,000-foot drop.
(The horse) Wallenda was by Gulch, and I thought ‘gorge’ and ‘gulch’ went together. And he was out of a mare named So Glad, and I thought, ‘When (Karl) Wallenda crossed over that gorge, he was so glad.”

3. Witnessing the spectacle of reporters in the press box that made a mad rush to the television as Calvin Borel engaged in a physical altercation with Javier Castellano in the winner’s circle following the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

4. Watching Goldikova’s amazing third BC Mile feat from the press box on the sixth floor balcony. Her jockey, Olivier Pesslier, paraded her around and around, and I even saw the tiny petals of flowers he was throwing from her blanket. Cheers erupted from reporters and fans alike as she was led back down the track.

5. Meeting and talking with Mike Repole, co-founder of Vitaminwater and owner of BC Juvenile victor Uncle Mo, the night before the big race at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in downtown Louisville. Repole was dining with a 50-person group of family and friends, and I’ve never seen a more exuberant celebration. The crowd was enjoying a lavish steak dinner and an abundance of flowing wine, and it was certainly a sight to see! Repole was talking a mile a minute, both nervous and excited on the eve of one the biggest days of his life.

6. Watching Uncle Mo’s victory in the BC Juvenile from the press box the next day…my favorite part was seeing Repole circle around and around with the horse and jockey afterward, jumping up and down, engulfing the ever-stoic trainer Todd Pletcher in multiple hugs, and planting kisses on his cheeks. I’m pretty sure he also high-fived the Pletcher about 18 times. Repole has more energy and excitement about him than anyone I’ve ever met!

7. Running 16 miles in Louisville’s beautiful Seneca Park the morning of the Breeders’ Cup as part of my marathon training. If you want to know why I did such a crazy thing, click here.

8. Covering my first-ever Breeders’ Cup race—the Emirates Airline Turf. Surprise winner Dangerous Midge got up to capture the race for elated trainer Brian Meehan. Unfortunately, the owner and jockey weren’t present at the press conference. Thankfully, I talked to Meehan on the backstretch a couple days before the race, which kind of saved my story.

9. Feeling my heart sink while watching the Breeders’ Cup Classic by the rail and realized that Zenyatta had at last seen defeat. As I viewed the replay over and over again, I willed her to stick her head in front and get up just a smidge more for the win, but it wasn’t meant to be.

10. Cashing in a $14 voucher following the Classic, while to my left, another gentleman was cashing a winning pick four ticket for $15,000. He was literally putting $100 bills in piles, and I watched him tip his tellers generously.

Cheers to Breeders’ Cup 2010!

p.s. I almost forgot that I also attended Smarty Jones' going away party at Three Chimneys during my whirlwind Breeders' Cup week!

What were some of your favorite Breeders' Cup memories this year?

14 Comments

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Flora

1. Goldikova - what a champion! She blew by her "foes" with such disdain, they looked like rocking horses. It must be depressing to the other jockeys to have this happen over and over.

2. The Battle of The Ages in the Classic. I too keep watching it again and again, begging Zenyatta to get her nose in front....no matter what happens in the HOTY voting, everyone now knows how great she truly is.

3. Chamberlain Bridge and Dakota Phone - wins by two underrated horses that were favorites of mine.

4. Garrett Gomez proving once and for all that jockeys are the toughest (human) athletes on Earth.

5. Goldikova's groom rooting her on in the stretch then going crazy when she won - I never saw a happier man!

10 Nov 2010 4:10 PM
norbrad

Watching the amazing Goldikova demolish an amazing group of horses, including Gio Ponti, watching the greatest race I have ever seen with Blame digging in to hold off Zenyata, and enjoying the entire day from section 122 at Churchill with my son. It's an event we'll talk about forever.

10 Nov 2010 6:11 PM
RockHardTenGroupie

In no particular order...

1. Standing ALL day from 11:00AM til the time the Queen arrived, in the SAME SPOT, front row of the paddock, only moving when one of my guy pals held my spot to attend the ladies room.  

2. Seeing the AMAZING Goldikova waltz into the paddock like she owned the place.  Second to Z, I have never seen a horse with more swagger to her walk.  She knew what she was there for and she walked the walk.

3. Remembering how impressive Uncle Mo looked in person, how well built he was for his age.  

4. How chipper, upbeat and on the verge of full of himself Mine That Bird was before his final race.  You would have thought he was a horse from the Royal Academy's Lippazaner squad with all that impulsion to his trot!

5. Crying in sheer defeat as I realized that at my home track I had the sense of joy ripped from me as quickly as it came with one last leap to the wire.  Zenyatta losing was hard to take, but her effort was more than my heart could hold.  She was still, in my eyes as I left, tears streaming down... PERFECT.

10 Nov 2010 7:25 PM
chicagofan

Thanks for sharing these memories!  Some favorite moments this year:  Getting to nuzzle "the Queen" on the nose on Sunday morning as she held court behind her barn. Zenyatta's presence is just amazing.  Talking to her connections who were the warmest, friendliest ambassadors for the sport you could find.  Watching the BC Juvenile warmups from the track kitchen and seeing Uncle Mo look like "all that" and more.  Watching Goldikova come to the backside with Freddy Head after her victory, and seeing his huge smile when hearing all the cheers.  Seeing Shared Account win after she had looked a little wild and thrown her rider the day before when getting ready to gallop. Getting to feed Unrivaled Belle a mint and spend a little time in her barn the morning after her win.  Seeing Blame up close.  Most of all, just getting to see so many top notch horses compete and feeling such a warm welcome from those at Churchill Downs, front and back.  A BC I will remember forever!

10 Nov 2010 8:59 PM
brett

ah goldikova...wow what a mare.. the great ms Z missed by a nose but still great in my eyes ! uncle mo in may ??

10 Nov 2010 9:28 PM
Chris and Susan from Philadelphia, PA

This was our first trip to Kentucky and the Breeder's Cup.  It was the best time we've had in many years because we not only went to the Breeder's Cup both days but met Nick Zito, Calvin Borel, D. Wayne Lukas, Carl Nafzger and Pat Day.  They were so friendly and went out of their way to make our visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum a memorable one.  We had a great time at the "My Derby Event".  The next day we were touring the backstretch at Churchill and the museum.  Everyone made us feel welcome.  We also went to Three Chimney's to see Smarty Jones and Barbaro's Daddy, Dynaformer.  What a wonderful trip to horse country.  The Breeder's Cup exceeded all our expectations.  We won and lost but everyone who attended was a winner.  Even though Zenyatta didn't win, she was still a winner to all who saw her race. Mike Smith is such a nice man - signed autographs and made himself available for pictures to all who asked.  A class act for sure.  The people of Louisville were fantastic and made our visit a dream trip.  Thank you to all.  Uncle Moe really does look awesome for the next Derby!  Also, a special thanks to Big Drama who won the six furlong sprint - we had that ticket!!!

10 Nov 2010 9:33 PM
MRO

I enjoyed the recount of your conversations with Steve Hobby & Cot Campbell. I was also pulling for Telling for a number of reasons. Is Chindi still working as Steve Hobby's stable pony? I absolutely adore that horse and would love an update on how he is doing. Also, I visited with Wallenda at OF last summer. He has turned out to be one of my favorites at the farm, and I'm glad he was brought home safely.

10 Nov 2010 9:47 PM
Scott

Does anyone know what Smarty's stud fee is this 2011 season?  Nothing to due with Breeders Cup.  It was a great two days of racing.

10 Nov 2010 11:03 PM
Slew

I enjoyed every second of the 2010 Breeders Cup, except for the loss of Rough Sailing.  (and perhaps the near miss by Zen, who fortunately, in her defeat, proved her mettle.)

11 Nov 2010 7:51 AM
Deb

I watched all day Saturday the tv with the BC and I could feel the thrill as if I were there!

It was the best......

11 Nov 2010 10:12 AM
VirginiaHorselover

1. Goldikova by far for me.

@Flora, wonderful point to bring up Goldikova's groom. Such passion and love for the horse. We need more people like that in our sport.

2. Uncle Mo, so impressive. Let's hope he can get the distance for the triple crown races. His pedigree suggests that he cannot. Maybe a wonderful battle between him and Boys at Tosconova in the TC races. Looking forward to see who else emerges in the coming months.

3. The Classic- Zenyatta ever gallant in defeat, Blame so gutsy in the stretch. What a tremendous race. Unlike many, I have the utmost respect for Zenyatta AND Blame. They gave us a show we won't ever forget.

4. Not something from the BC, but something that wasn't. The fact that Rachel Alexandra wasn't there and should have been. It's a Shame she was managed this year in the terrible way she was. Jess Jackson should reflect on this year for along time, so as not to repeat it. Such an amazing filly, don't blame her. She took on any and all comers and won most of the time. She will be sorely missed.

Thanks for reading my 2 cents worth guys. Until next time, may they ALL come home safe.

11 Nov 2010 11:03 AM
Soldier Course

Two things about last week have broken my heart:

The roar of the crowd at Churchill Downs during Zenyatta's walkover. It went on forever.

Your photograph of Smarty Jones, above. He looks so sad, like there's something going on that he can't quite understand. There is.

11 Nov 2010 2:48 PM
Stacy

I too was in Section 122. And it was magical!!

Smarty Jones will be well cared for and loved no matter where he goes. My daughter and I am already planning to go see him in PA.

14 Nov 2010 5:39 PM
Jim

Without any doubt "GOLDIKOVA".

It actually appeared she was noy going to make at the top of the stretch and a bit past it, but, the way she motored down reminded me of Kjell Qvale comment after John Henry defeated Silveyville in the Golden Gate Handicap, his comment was it appeared Silveyville was tied to the rail whith the ease that John Henry went by.

22 Nov 2010 4:14 PM

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