Last weekend was an action-packed, stakes-filled time of racing. This blog decided that it would think outside of the box about where to see all of the Breeders' Cup preps. One would assume that a huge horse racing fan who is based in Southern California would be plenty satisfied with the grade 1 extravaganza that was being offered by the Oak Tree @ Hollywood Park meet. With the venerable Zenyatta as its star attraction, why would one want to be anywhere else?
Yet this blog wanted more. This blog wanted to experience something new, somewhere new. The chance to see not one but two of "Ten's Top T-Breds" in person for the first, and maybe only, time in their racing career(s) proved to be too irresistible of a siren's call to ignore. This blog went right on by Hollywood Park to LAX and hopped on a flight headed to New York. Final destination: Belmont Park.
Now this was no ordinary trip to the track for this blog. Not only had it never been on a flight by himself, it had not been East of the Rockies nor to a race track outside of California. Plus, it would be this blog's first time meeting with large groups of people from several different forms of social media. Add in sharing a hotel room with a non-family member and all of these firsts just added to the anxiety of taking this trip.
After an easy flight across the country, this blog landed on Friday night, where it met up with Connie (aka MsVFAB on Twitter) at the airport, who flew in from Cleveland and a fellow member of Team Blame, a group of "tweeps" who believe Blame will win the Breeders' Cup Classic. We even have custom made t-shirts to show our loyalty. (Connie is also an ardent Fly Down supporter, and was crushed over his sale to Saudi owner for fear of him never returning to the U.S. after this year.) The next morning, fellow Team Blame member Derek (NJDerek), who gave us a ride to Belmont from the hotel both ways. After a smooth, traffic-free ride, we arrived at Belmont just after the gates opened. This blog had two separate groups from two sources of social media to meet that day. One was from Twitter and the other from the TVG Community (TVGC) site, which had provided hats for this blog to distribute to the other members who were scheduled to be there. (Throughout the rest of the card, I ping-ponged between the two groups, probably at a detriment to better social interaction among me and either group.)
After saying hello and looking at the horses in the paddock for the first with the TVGC group, this blog watched the first from Belmont from the apron right at the finish line. It was a winning one, as Ya Gotta Have Soul came from just off the pace to take the victory. As the card moved forward, members from both groups filed in, with this blog meeting up with fellow Team Blame members Dylan (DylanTWM), Steve (stmunday), Bryan (ghostzapper04) and Kevin (CollinsGhost). All of them were good to meet and easy to talk with. Near the midpoint of the card, I was lucky to met the wonderful Sid (SidFernando). This was one of the highlights of the trip, as Sid is such a knowledgeable person of the sport and a great guy. With him was the (as Kevin kept calling him) "World Famous" o_crunk (real name Chris), who just coming off his well-received editorial in Thoroughbred Times.
The day went on with some highs (Life At Ten returning to form) and some lows (the camera breaking as the field of the Hirsch left the paddock). Then the big race came, the Jockey Club Gold Cup. This blog finally got to see its top horse in person, and it was worth the trip. Too bad the outcome of the race wasn't as Haynesfield snuck away to a lonely lead and won, disappointing Team Blame. But the team knows that this loss was an aberration and will only lead to higher price comes Breeders' Cup Classic time.
After the card, some of us filed into the clubhouse to watch the Lady's Secret. While there, Ian (ianlozada) managed to find those who were left of Team Blame, plus Sid. Ian had promised this blog quality pizza (something that this blog knows does not exists in Los Angeles.), so after the race Connie, Sid, Ian, Derek and I went off for pizza (having said our goodbyes to Steve and Dylan, who chose to stay a little longer to watch the Goodwood). We ate at Grimaldi's (which has now completely ruined pizza for me out here, as nothing is even close). Ian took some pictures of us (with Sid taking the ones with Ian in them).
After we all said are goodbyes and Derek drove us back to the hotel, my mind started to think about what I saw that day and what laid in store tomorrow. I went to bed even more certain (if that's possible), that Blame would avenge in the Classic, that Life at Ten was back to form, and most importantly, that i made the right decision in coming. Now, how did i handle taking public transportation to Belmont from Newark? Who else did i meet? That will have to wait until tomorrow...