Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
Sharing Life

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Breeders' Cup Debacle! Braids: It's All About the Braids. Horse and Human.

Thanks Torrie Ann Needham for this great shot! Beautiful.

I've decided I think I know how Bo Derek really got elected to the head of the CHRB. Thank the braids. It's always been about THE BRAIDS. Race horse owners, trainers and the team of people who care for the horses on a daily basis like to fancy up their manes for big races, by braiding them.

Clearly, somebody who was a huge fan of Ms. Derek's assumed that similarity was enough to ensure she'd be a credible, useful, capable, hopefully outstanding, Director. After this year's BC Classic starting gate debacle, I hope whoever thought that, is somewhere acknowledging his error, even if only privately. Unless the goal and responsibility of the racing board's first vice chair is to help selective trainers injure a competing trainer's horse, Ms. Derek has once again failed miserably at properly or graciously executing her duties.

Yes, an argument solely blaming the Santa Anita stewards regarding Bayern's ridiculous win certainly deserves to be made and maintained in social media until changes happen that reflect a healthier, less-preferential treatment. But the SA stewards ultimately answer (to a strong degree) to the California Horse Racing Board. Ms. Bo Derek.

I was okay, disgusted with but ultimately disgruntledly okay, at the decision by SA stewards NOT to disqualify Bayern due to the jockey's [Martin Garcia] reckless start at the gate. Scott Cheney gave a reason at the press conference the following morning explaining their choice, blahbideeblah, California HRB rule number blahbideeblah made us pick this way.

Blah, blah, blah...

That was before I read an article that not only discussed the egregious, (my new word of the day, word of the week after seeing the Classic go off like that! EGREGIOUS. Look it up if you don't know it and then think Bob Baffert.) harried, chaotic and dangerous bad start intentionally initiated by Baffert and his jockey towards the herd to Bayern's left.

Cut to the chase aftermath. Moreno who got slammed when Bayern hit Shared Belief is now required to get ankle surgery because of jockey Garcia and trainer Baffert's tactics. Ankle surgery. The elegant tiny legs, ankles and hooves of a horse constantly fascinate and impress me. The way they carry all that weight (a thousand pounds plus) while running at speeds up to forty miles per hour. Unbelievably amazing.

Unfortunately, that slim, delicate little ankle is also a racehorse's worst enemy. It doesn't take much to damage it and when it gets smacked or slammed or trampled or trolloped or whacked, it breaks or cracks or has some other wretched thing happen to it that, regardless of a surgeon's skill, doesn't allow the horse to ever run the same way again. (I'm not saying you should root for the Cowboys, I prefer the Texans, but think Tony Romo and his back. He had surgery to correct issues but still after minimal hits, he develops significant problems that unavoidably affect his game.

Some people like to say horse racing, being a jockey and tough competition, is a man's sport. I disagree. Because in order to believe that I'd have to believe men are organically, innately dumb. And I don't think that at all. It's ludicrous.

The reason I put it that way is because if I am to accept that Bob Baffert's instructing his jockey to do whatever it takes to get the lead or out in front at the onset of the race is right-minded and hugely common, then I'd also be accepting that all men in the sport of horse racing are perfectly fine and comfortable, think it's their inherent right and job to get a win, no matter how egregious the tactics. A win is a win and that's all that matters.

Bob Baffert = annoying.
SA stewards = "I don't know what I think. It depends on the day and the race."
The California Horse Racing Board = don't even get me started.

In short, if Ms. Derek's earlier braids had anything to do with affecting her current decision making process, NOBODY EVER BRAID YOUR HAIR AGAIN, EVER.

I love Santa Anita race track. It's so beautiful, that mountainous backdrop, blue skies. Great fashion in SoCal. But thank God that the Breeders' Cup people have decided to take the races to Keeneland race track next year. Personally, I don't think they should return to California until the state racing rules or stewards change.

I know CA, as a state, has generally always been out there. That people like to do their own thing. And that's cool. But when your "thing" is stealing five million dollars and forcing an innocent horse to need ankle surgery, altering the rest of his entire career, let there be no misconception about you. Bob Baffert, you are not cool!

I hope you heel up fast, Moreno. You certainly deserved a better 2014 BC Classic run than that. And jockey Mike Smith, I'm sorry I didn't actually get to see you run the race you intended on Shared Belief. Lucky for you, I'm sure you'll get multiple more opportunities at BC wins in the future.

Keeneland, please bring some integrity back to the Breeders' Cup. It's up to you, because apparently California isn't interested in or think integrity's important.

P.S. I didn't intend for this post to be about bashing Bob Baffert. He just made it so easy.

Flaming Inspiration-A Writer's Tool

Burn idea, Burn. I mean that in a good way.

Recently, I was gabbing about writing. Tossing around ideas, trying to figure out how one comes to full fruition. Novel form, specifically, perplexes me. Maybe it's the innumerable amount of potential ingredients one can cast into a single recipe? Maybe it's the vast number of untapped possibilities lingering just out of reach? Whatever the case, the sweet feat of crafting a single story horrifies me.

Whose perspective do I tell it from? Why that person's? How much should the storyteller or author distance herself from the activity and exploration of the narrative? And what the heck is tone? These are questions that boggle my mind, even when I sleep.

I wish I could pretend that the longer I sit still, the more brilliant I naturally become and then all things of man, mind, and spirit magically reveal themselves to me. Alas, I am not a fairy with a magical wand, nor do I share pedigree with the impressive unicorn gene pool. I don't walk with ancient Greek gods when I slumber. Nor am I privileged to have secret conversations in my dreams with any other non-human entity who could perhaps take pity on me and provide me with helpful answers.

Without all these fancy mechanisms at my disposal, you may wonder how I ever come to any conclusions about anything. Enter, my fireplace. I love a good fire. Love everything about it. The way one log burns vigorously, ferociously like it's attacking a long-standing, family feud dragon. While another one flickers its embers so meekly that I'm convinced it's decided to burn itself in itty-bitty sections just to poke fun at the audaciousness of its outlandish counterpart?

Most ideas that I mine for intricate story are like the latter. Or worse. They sit center-fireplace failing to catch fire, mocking my initial moment of inspiration. Year after year passes and that tarnished, unlit, yet burnt beyond recognition kernel of truth just sits there. And when the log finally catches and embers start agreeably cracking, I'm left with only more questions. Was that the ember, the idea, I was born to contemplate and see through to full fruition?


One story in particular comes to mind. I've been working on it, technically, since spring 2002. I say, technically, because as much as I love the characters, two young sisters, they aggravate me to no end. I swear I have at least a few gray hairs milling about my head because of them. Their unwillingness to fully show themselves. Let me into their world. See why they run and hide, the way they say they must. What's that even mean? You either hide or you show yourself.

I've decided this...an idea remains indefinitely untapped and untouchable until it's ready to share its brilliance. Until its author is willing to take the time to properly mine it for the gold that it is. I've been pecking away at the core ingredients in my sisters' novel for over ten years. You'd think those characters would trust me by now. But no! They've got ideas of their own that they insist I listen to. Preferably, that I include in my book.
Talk about cheeky!

I've also decided this...ideas are egomaniacs. They want your full attention and accept nothing less. They catch fire only when they feel confident that you are willing to fully vet them for emotional, psychological and physical credibility and connectivity. Connectivity because ideas are really little pieces of potential that want their chance to meet their destiny just like their author.

So, it's back to the fireplace, I go. May the logs I light, rise up against me in giant flames and infuse my imagination with spicy, revealing revelations.  And may I instinctively know how to identify the righteous ideas and carry them onto paper.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Impressive Young Woman to Watch, Saira Blair

Dream big, focus, work hard and watch your life unfurl the way you want. 

I'm not typically one to run about arguing, debating or attempting to sway people to believe ONLY what I believe. Politics. The way I think the world should work. The way I want things to be done. There's a lot of people on this vast planet and diversity requires understanding which then makes growth happen. Stick to growth and success will follow.
I say this, because I want there to be no assumptions about my political leanings just because I'm posting an article about a young woman who's identified herself with a particular party. I have mixed beliefs when it comes to politics and quite frankly, the older I get the less I think any one party has enough answers to fix all this country's problems.

Onto better things...meet a fabulous young woman, Saira Blair, who began an ambitious journey at the age of 17. She decided she wanted to be a lawmaker so created a plan and worked it to the end she sought. Last night, (November 4, 2014) she became the United State's youngest lawmaker.
Period. Smackdown! Wow! She is an impressive young woman with a bright future. Not just because she won, but because she decided what she wanted, didn't let anyone talk her out of it and stayed disciplined to make her dreams come true.

Here's the full article about West Virginia's youngest state lawmaker, Ms. Saira Blair. 

I can't imagine the numerous, fun everyday activities or hobbies that Ms. Blair gave up to pursue her plan to become an elected individual. I love the idea that this young woman didn't care what her peers or family or friends were doing in their free time.
She followed her own path and figured out a way to create a life she wanted to make happen.

Congratulations, Ms. Blair! Job well done.
Good luck with the work ahead of you.  

Thanks to Washington Wire for the heads up on this inspiring young woman. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Live in Hogwart's!

If you have a love for Harry Potter and the whole beautiful fascinating Hogwart's world be sure to check out this link:


Visitors get to read new Harry Potter stories plus check out backstories into why characters think and act the way they do. What makes the wicked teacher Dolores Umbridge want to cruelly punish the unique kids at Hogwarts? Find out.

I'm off...can't wait to see which house I get sorted into.
Thank you J.K. Rowling! Now I don't have to get to Orlando, Florida to let my imagination run wild.

Harry Potter, you make my day!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Save Yourself--Visit a Bookstore--Jim Reed Books, Birmingham, AL--Review

Help yourself. Visit an outstanding bookstore. Invest in the qualities that make you unique by picking a story with characters who leave you longing to explore the world and seek out new adventures. Nurture and nourish your inner voice.

Jim Reed Books in Birmingham, Alabama boasts thousands of books, magazines, comic books and records for your relaxing perusal, contemplation and consideration.

This gem of a bookstore is a hidden treasure nestled in between office buildings, restaurants and banks downtown. A beautiful old red brick church, St. Paul's Cathedral, sits across the street, one block away.

Whether you're searching for a classic novel in cloth back, a contemporary short story collection, poetry, biographies, film and TV, or mass paperback Sci-fi and fantasy Jim Reed's does not disappoint. Stacks and stacks of books cover the floor, line the walls and rest on shelves in the center of the room. Old Life magazines, newspapers and TV Guides are some of the alternate reading materials available. Rare and collectible books are also offered.

The owner and his staff are extremely helpful. Need something specific? I don't know how they've done it, but there is a computerized inventory record. I probably wouldn't be as impressed by this little fact if their inventory didn't exceed 50,000 items. Prices are very affordable.

Jim Reed Books is worthy of a Birmingham road trip. If you're fortunate enough to live locally and have never visited this book store, STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!! and high-tail it on over there.

Jim Reed Books 
2021 Third Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 326-4460
Tuesday through Friday, 10:30am till 5:30pm and Saturdays, 11am till 4pm.
All major credit cards accepted. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Old Friends [Retired Thoroughbred Stallions Welcome!]

Look at those pretty horses...so sweet...sweet and spirited, but sweet, nonetheless. 

I'm not saying I recommend thinking about this often or regularly, but a girl has to have a plan.

I know where I want to be buried. I don't think the Cemetery at Old Friends will accept me, but I'm hoping that if I put their organization's name in my will, and leave enough money as payment, that the humans in charge will take pity on me and lay me down next to their sweet, beautiful departed racehorses.
I'm not saying I need to be allowed to hang out with the Hall of Famers. (A space of pretty, green land at the front of the property is designated solely for deceased Hall of Fame horses who've passed on in search of greener pastures.) I mean, seriously, I understand that my pedigree lacks appropriate credibility for such elusive, grand endeavors as the Hall of Famers section. But if you could nestle me in between two of those four-legged beauties who raced for human entertainment and enjoyment in their career, it would be immensely appreciated. Truly.

What the heck am I talking about, specifically? A wonderful farm near Keeneland race track in Lexington, Kentucky, Old Friends Equine Farm in Georgetown, accepts retired Thoroughbred racehorses at the end of their racing careers. Horses receive different forms of training while on the farm. Some stay at the property permanently, if he or she can not be trained for a second professional career. They contentedly graze in one of the 145-acre property's pastures for years. Other horses, receptive to new ideas, routines and physical requirements, train as dressage, jumper, show horses or pony companions and are found new second homes when ready.

The star of the show, LittleSilverCharm, Michael Blowen (the owner) & Me
I was fortunate to meet owner Michael Blowen on my recent visit to the farm. He was most gracious, letting me pet the farm's famous miniature horse mascot, LittleSilverCharm, as much as I liked. If you love a sweet horse with just the right amount of savvy attitude check out LittleSilverCharm's Facebook page.

As beautiful, helpful and successful as this lovely farm is, it is also a non-profit in need of donations to sustain itself and purchase additional land for new horses. Currently, the organization has a "horse wait list."

If you'd like to tour the property and visit with scintillating Thoroughbreds such as Arson Squad, I'm Charismatic, Rapid Redux, and Sarava, call or stop by the farm when in the Lexington area. Tours run $10 per person and are free for kids 12 and under (as of June 10, 2014).
Old Friends boasts a bevy of fancy volunteer tour guides. Charlie Brown (no relation, unfortunately, to that phenomenal beagle, Snoopy) led my tour and shared more information and knowledge than my brain could contain. He's got good fun horse stories too. Ask him if you can feed the horses a carrot after arriving at their pasture rails for a super good time.

You can also always call Old Friends at: (859) 873-1612 and make a general donation. 

The horses thank you in advance. They do look forward to their daily carrot treats. 

Retirees' Running Land, go horses, go! Be free!!

Horses at Old Friends currently range in age from 5 to 31 years. I asked about the 5-year old gelding in particular, because it made me curious why he was so much younger than the other horses at the facility. (Most are around ten or twenty years.) Long story short, the horse simply needed a place to call home after he could no longer race. I LOVE THIS PLACE! 

If you've ever longed to spend time with a bonafide movie star, Old Friends is the place for you. Fancy pants, Popcorn Deelites, played Seabiscuit in the film adaptation of the book. Can't get any better than feeding that guy a carrot if you're into celebrity crushes. 

Other horses waiting for you to visit and tell them how fabulous they are and how much you appreciate them are: Ogygian, Kudos, Gulch, Danthebluegrassman, and Affirmed Success. 

If you are anything like me and literally long for the day when you will have enough land to accommodate all the horses you can safely fit and care for, but do not currently have any way to purchase said land, pretend-own a horse by buying a share of one of the horses being cared for at Old Friends. Visit the organization's web site to make that happen by clicking here. Scroll down to the heading...

Like I said at the onset of this post, one day when I pass on from this breathtaking planet I hope to be blessed with good fortune that affords me the peace and quiet of permanently residing in the rolling green hills of bluegrass Kentucky. 

I'm talking to you Old Friends cemetery. No pressure, I'm just saying think about it. I know my pedigree is definitely lacking by T-bred racehorse standards, but I'd promise to be grateful for the ground space under your trees. 

On a more serious note, it was truly a joy to visit Old Friends equine farm and see these gorgeous racehorses who worked so hard to entertain humans at the tracks, being properly cared for in their retirement. Every horse I saw in pasture or stall, was in good health and if he or she had an ailment, it was being tended to with the utmost concern and care. If only, every owner took equally grand care of his own horses at the end of their careers, what a lovely world it would be. 

One last shout out: horse trainer Tim Wilson is actually the wonderful person who pointed me in the direction of Old Friends. He's a trainer working out of various farms, including The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, KY. He knows his stuff. And he's an enjoyable person to talk to who knows how to effectively communicate important things about racehorses. So if you're looking for a second home for your burgeoning two-year old, look no further. Thanks for the fun morning, Tim. I loved Secret Twelves!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Euthanization: The Pretty Side of an Ugly Reality

Sweet Delta Princess, Busy Girl, Will be Missed

It is with a heavy heart that I talk about the dam Delta Princess today. Generally, I don't enjoy focusing on the aspect of the horse racing industry that results in ending a life. A horse being put down is the one thing I think the majority of people who work in horse racing and earn profits--large or small, simply sustaining for shelter, food, the basic necessities in a daily way--will all agree that  euthanizing a horse for any reason is always difficult to say the least.

Delta Princess was only 15 years old when she was humanely put down yesterday, August 5th. She'd been suffering from a chronic stifle condition and her situation rapidly disintegrated. Her pain increased as a result of this deteriorating situation and the right thing, the compassionate thing to do was put her down.

Normally, a story like this would end there. You have a sick horse. The horse is in excruciating pain. The proper moral choice is obvious. Put the horse out of her pain and misery. I believe Delta Princess deserves special attention though today, because at the time of her death she was pregnant with a healthy little guy (or girl), daddy Awesome Again. So this beautiful horse's death is tragic on two levels. (As if one young death didn't make this event sad enough.)

And this reality is what I wanted to explore...

The thoroughbred racing industry, as a whole, is often chastised and ridiculed. The people whom comprise it and earn a living off of breeding, raising, training and racing t-bred horses are also often the focus of severe negative attention.

Trainers are attacked for their choices in how they care for and motivate their horses. Owners are attacked for not knowing every single moment of what goes on in their trainer's barns. It is insinuated time and time again that veterinarians do not do enough or care enough about the horses under their care to award them happy, healthy lives.

Yes, obviously, there are bad trainers and bad owners and bad veterinarians, and jockeys and assistant trainers and handlers and on and on and on. Like there are bad individuals in every other large industry, in every country with a vast number of people getting to have a say in how they run their own lives and make personal choices, all around the world.

Delta Princess' owners and training team, all her human caretakers at Adena Springs and her vet just proved with their hard decision yesterday, however, that the bad individuals, the ones who intentionally run amuck in the business of horse racing, do not necessarily represent the bulk of the industry's people.

There are many, many people who work in and enjoy the sport of horse racing because they actually love, admire and cherish horses. These people are not often talked about in the media or interviewed about how difficult the decision was for them to have to agree to euthanize one of their own. That is not publicly highlighted to any degree near a Steve Asmussen or Bob Baffert fiasco.

My point is, the majority of people who work in and count on horse racing for their livelihood are decent, humane, considerate individuals who respect and appreciate horses. I understand this isn't as flashy to talk about as a good drug charge or failed drug test or failed breathalyzer or what not. But it's a reality that needs and deserves attention if the sport is to survive and absorb new generations of race fans for decades to come.

Yes, Delta Princess not surviving and getting to live out her golden years relaxing in pasture somewhere is certainly disappointing and sad. Likewise, being in foal at the time of her death is amply tragic. The real issue to remember here though, today, when you think about this gorgeous gal and her baby passing on, is that the team responsible for Delta Princess' well-being had to make a horribly tough call, AND THEY CHOSE TO PRIORITIZE DELTA PRINCESS' PERSONAL NEEDS FIRST.

Delta Princess will be deeply missed, as well as her unborn foal and any other little babies she would've birthed. But the sadness of losing her is little price to pay considering the alternative was to keep her alive and watch her be in pain simply to sustain the baby and give birth.

This humanity is what people should be writing about, discussing in sports' news, addressing in daily chat forums. The compassionate, kindred spirit of human to horse, horse to human, that takes place every day in the horse racing industry.

Here's a link to the story that I initially read on Delta Princess' death. Thanks Paulick Report. 

Don't get me wrong, yes, talk about the bad stuff, the people who blatantly do wrong things. Hold them appropriately accountable and responsible for their actions. But don't let their personal poor choices ruin the sport for the individuals who are willing to play by the rules and not injure horses all in the name of a day's work. Balance out the bad reporting with some good. Everybody in the sport of horse racing is not disregarding the well-being of horses to make a buck.

People who work in the horse racing industry generally share one thing in common, a love for fast, courageous horses. Honor Delta Princess by acknowledging that her humans made the right choice for her, despite the dire outcome. They did the humane thing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Best Horse Race of the Day!

Leave it to the Brits to provide the best horse race of the day. Thank you, Sandown Park in England for providing this much-needed and appreciated moment of levity.

And now without further adieu, here is the video so you can watch for yourself how well humans can make fun of themselves. I'm sure the horses watching this shindig going on from the rails were grateful for the humor.

I particularly love the race announcer waiting for official confirmation of the final results from the stewards.

Thank you, Paulick Report for originally posting this video from Youtube.
Congratulations to all the horses for surviving that grueling race. Now go treat yourselves to a carrot!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bao Bao's Growing Up!

Bao Bao, 11 months
Little panda cub Bao Bao is getting so big that it's hard to look at her and think "baby Bao Bao" anymore. What a startlingly beautiful girl she's become over the past 11 months.

See for yourself by clicking here:

Help Bao Bao celebrate her first birthday on August 23rd by making a donation to the Smithsonian Zoo. 
Better yet, do both of you a favor and visit her in person. The National Zoo already has super panda plans under way to mark the very special day.

Check out the festivities by clicking me. 

Today, when I checked in on Bao Bao, it seemed that she has rubbed off on her mama as much as Mama Mei has rubbed off on her. Whereas, mama has taught baby Bao Bao to climb trees, nibble bamboo and respond to calls, Bao Bao has apparently reminded mama the importance of having fun.

Here's a little pictorial adventure of their day.
Mama Mei enjoys her balloon within a balloon treat.

Bao Bao naps while mom plays. 
And at the end of the day, Mei and Bao Bao hang out on the rocks, together.

Perfect end to a perfect day...a little snuggle with someone you love!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Natalie Turner, Traveling Jockey Machine

HAPPY 4th of JULY, everybody! 

What better way to honor independent spirit than an interview with one of my favorite jockeys? In all honesty, I can't decide if I appreciate Natalie or her racehorses' fierce spirits more? They're all pretty amazing. Plus, you can't have horse races without jockeys. Jockeys are often the overlooked essential ingredient in any thoroughbred racehorse's success. I'm grateful to be able to bend the ear of one of these amazing athlete's today. 
Yay! Natalie & Black Lace Mojo take 1st!

Thanks for taking the time to catch up, Natalie. You have been quite the international traveler since we last talked.

1)      You are currently in the middle of your apprentice year. Is that correct?

NT: In the USA I'm not considered an apprentice; worldwide I am still eligible for an apprentice.

2)      Do you remember how many tracks you’ve raced at over the last six months? Can you name a few?

NT: Lonestar, Tampa, Chantilly [France], Duindigt [Holland], so 4 in 6 months I think.

3)      You’ve done well with the horses you’ve raced. How do you find your mounts?

NT: Considering I'm almost always on a long shot, I've done great! I hustle myself, as well as my agent.

4)      This spring you attended and participated in races in the UAE. Can you tell me how that opportunity came to be?

NT: Chris McCarron [North American Racing Academy] recommended me for the apprentice program over there and away I went! I hope to return this year [and race professionally again]! Some of my friends I've met all over the world will be attending [various race events] and I'd like to see them again.

5)      Was that your first time racing in the UAE? What was the experience like?

NT: That was my first time in UAE and I honestly think without this opportunity riding, or even visiting there, would have just been a dream for me; but I'm so thankful I got the chance to go ! They did the draw while I was on the plane ride over and ended up short on horses so myself and Sweden had to sit out. We still rode out in the mornings and went to all the events, just didn't race. :( 
Probably for the best because someone did fall in our race, so in this case, safer on the sidelines.  It was amazing over there, cars I've never seen before, food I've never tried, and hospitality like nothing I've ever experienced!  They don't have parimutuel wagering there so everything is laid back. We went out when we were ready and did things at a calm efficient pace, instead of rush, rush, rush, like the US. They enjoy racing more there as a high society sport. It was nice to see it appreciated like that.

6)      Another stamp in your passport this year should reflect adventures in France. How did you first hear about the races at Chantilly?

NT: The France trip was more or less a payback. "Sorry you didn't get a horse in Dubai." We will send you to France to make up for it. And the trip more then made up for sitting out one race.

7)      Did you find any differences between racing in France versus what you’re accustomed to in the U.S.? Is the preparation the same? Distance on the track? Number of horses in the average race?

NT: The number of horses per race is higher than I thought. They did race to the right, instead of left, and don't use ponies, gate hands, or outriders. But their horses behave and don't really need them. They tend to run more distance races instead of sprints and almost everything is on the grass.

8)      You’ve also recently raced in Holland. What advice can you give to other jockeys hopeful of racing internationally?

NT: Go for it ! It's a great experience and I know I've become a better rider. Watch replays of the track you'll be riding at and walk the courses before your race. Just get a feel for how they do things.

9)      What would you say are the three biggest differences of racing in the United States, France and Holland?

NT: To me it seems like its USA vs everyone else. They all seem to do things about the same and we are the ones way different.  They gallop long sets nose to tail, no ponies, outriders, or gate crew. Sometimes they don't even train on a track, just use paths in the woods. I've been telling everyone the best way to explain it is, they run it like a high class sport, we run it like a business. 

Thanks again for your time, Ms. Natalie Turner! Great to catch up with you. If you're lucky enough to live in Texas and looking for a great excuse to visit the track, Natalie's currently racing in your neighborhood. She's tearing up the Texas circuit as we speak, having just placed first on her mount, Black Lace Mojo, Thursay, July 3rd at Lone Star Park, Grand Prairie [Fort Worth], Texas. 

Hope your holiday is super and that your fun festivities extend all the way to Sunday. Hit up your local track, place a few bets and watch the good times sweep past you at the rail. 

Happy Independence Day, America!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Read!!! (Please.)

I saw a picture of a girl today, that I don't think was intended to be provocative...

Thanks to Makis Siderakis for this image.

Nestled in between columns of other pictures: Cozy home libraries, old European bookstores, quaint American ones. Books, books and more books. Comfy and inspiring places to read and reflect. Think.

As the United States approaches our favorite independence marking holiday, 4th of July, I'm keen to the idea that one luxury Americans enjoy on a daily basis is the ability to seek out, acquire and read content they personally deem appropriate, for whatever reason. Entertainment, education, enchanting escape.

I know...that's a lot of "e" words. How about exciting, energizing and enabling? Other equally impressive "e" words that apply to people when, while or after they finish reading a piece of any length work. Fiction or non-fiction. Because this is where books lead you. Unfamiliar, desirable and adventurous ideas float through the mind while reading and afterwords, while savoring, the memories of the story.

The girl in the above picture appears [to me] to be masking the fact that she's reading. She seems tucked into a stone wall, as if searching for a private physical space to read her book. In all fairness, she could be sitting on her family's balcony at their home, I have no idea. Still the idea that a person feels compelled to hide (in any capacity) her desire to read, embeds deep in my heart.

Books save people. From themselves, their daily life circumstances, things that have come to pass but not necessarily been emotionally or psychologically dealt with or accepted.

What is this young woman reading and why is she essentially reading it on a rock?

Sometimes I put off reading a book. I don't know why? I picked it up hoping that after finishing it, I'd be a smarter or more aware or sensitive or humane person. And then I let the book sit there on my stack and get buried beneath equally wonderful, inspiring, revealing stories or information.

I think this means I'm spoiled. Spoiled and take for granted one of the beautiful gifts bestowed upon me because I was fortunate to be born in a country that believes free speech is paramount to human sustenance. For all the gripe and trite comments forever publicly made by bloggers, online media, newspapers and some individuals just looking to vent whatever for whatever reason, regarding the dire status of daily life in the United States of America, I say, "settle down."

Truth be told, Americans are fortunate. Things we take for granted every day, like reading what we choose, are activities that children in foreign countries must burrow into stone walls, nooks and crannies of abandoned establishments and buildings to catch a mere glimpse of the same reality.

Don't believe me? Check out this book for yourself and see how lucky you are. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi. 

And then after you finish that book, create a stack of books filled with other stories and accounts in any room in your home. It doesn't take much space. A corner, or hallway, cubby under the stairs, balcony or ventilated shed in the backyard. Read, read, read. For yourself and all the people existing in the world who weren't fortunate enough to be born into a society or culture that believes making reading materials available for public consumption, at the discretion of each individual reader, is a valued endeavor.

Who knows? Maybe you'll change your life without even intending to do it.

Here are 7 wonderful independent bookstores to buy your books at:

> Strand, Manhattan, NYC
> Book Spot, Austin--Round  Rock, TX
> Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA
> Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
> Bookman's Corner, Chicago, IL
> Landmark Booksellers, Nashville--Franklin, TN
> Carpe Librum, Washington, DC

If you don't live locally, check them out online.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thyro-L, No Confusion Unless You Add Confusion!

Warning: the reality of the following post drives me completely crazy. What is wrong with people?
Here is an article offered up on The Paulick Report addressing the effects of Thyroxine on horses. Race horses for the purposes of this blog. Read Me! 

Information is supposed to be helpful, useful. It's supposed to enable people to make sounder decisions not hide behind activities that he knew he probably shouldn't have been engaging in, in the first place.

I'm talking to you, Bob Baffert. Don't give ALL of your racehorses any medications unless they actually need it. And in order to know if they actually need it, ASK YOUR VET. You know, the guy with the science degree who also specialized in equines. If you still don't know who he is, he's the guy with the needles.

And just for the record, I'm sitting in my office chair reticent and conflicted while contemplating writing this post. Why? Because I don't personally know Bob Baffert, haven't ever been granted access to a snippet of a view at his vet records. The going-ons in his barn on any given day. I don't know how he treats all of the horses under his care, nor who actually calls in the order to the vet when making medical or general care maintenance requests. In all fairness to him, maybe he delegates those calls and orders. I'm not saying that's wise, but maybe he does. He's a busy man.

Seeing as how someone needs to be held accountable though, when numerous horses die, and nobody seems willing to come forward and admit to what could've potentially done in those gorgeous four-legged entertainer athletes in the Baffert barn, people like me, random bloggers, are left to speculate. Why? Because people with real power seemingly choose to apply no actual consequences when a person is liked in his industry. Case in point, the California Racing Board declaring that they found nothing conclusive to blame Baffert with, regarding the abnormal death rate of horses in his barn.

Here's a suggestion California: KEEP LOOKING until you find answers.

It drives me to the brink of recognizable insanity that Bob Baffert continues to be given the benefit of the doubt regarding his decision to administer Thyro-L to ALL the horses in his barn.

Who does this?

Bob Baffert.

Even Richard Dutrow, Jr. tossed his multitude of violations up a bit. Did many different bad things over the course of his running amok as a trainer.

Everybody, please, stop giving Bob Baffert the benefit of the doubt. When a significant number of your horses are dying while in training or on the track racing, and you continue to administer the same medications to them, in spite of this dire condition, then you deserve to be questioned and investigated regarding your choices. Especially if you didn't do the prudent thing and consult your vet prior to instructing him to dole out medications and supplements.

I'm so tired of this...I love the horse racing industry. Everything about it. I love the colorful people who care for the horses as well as the various different personalities that comprise the fan base. The professional gamblers are like scientists in their own rite with all their handicapping variables and prowess. The stewards, whose responsibilities never seem to end. Most everybody in this industry fascinates me to no end. But when one person comes along who is clearly not doing right by the horses he's responsible for, knowingly not doing the right thing, then it becomes the responsibility of all those other people to rein that person in. Tell him why what he's doing isn't working and instruct him to stop. Apply consequences if he flinches at the idea of deserving accountability.

How is this so hard to understand? Parents teach this basic value to their children every day, all across America. You do something wrong, there are consequences. Action, reaction.
I've said it before, and here I go again...the horses are dependent upon the people in charge of them to treat them fairly and put their best interest first.
Get with it people who have the power to properly dole out appropriate fines, suspensions or whatever. The horses have been patient long enough. Enough have unnecessarily died.

Thryo-L HAS risks.

And any trainer or owner or vet who knowingly administers this medication, supplement, whatever you want to call it, to any horse that does not definitively need it, should be held accountable, especially if the horse exhibits a dire negative reaction.

Some insiders say that the horse racing industry is collapsing. Numbers are down for racetrack attendance and betting is on the down-slide. I'm not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of all those details. I'd have to be a long-time expert with privy information to adequately assess all that jazz. But what I do know is that if you are saying that you are searching for a new fan base to grow your industry than what you need to do is take into account, the reality of today's potential gamblers, entertainment-seekers, horse lovers or average race track visitor. People today are savvy and read and like to feel good about what they are choosing to participate in and how they elect to spend their free time. If you want their money, you must approach them with regard, respect and appreciation for what they have to offer. In order to do this, you must show that the racehorses are treated well. Plain and simple.

The average spectator does not want to watch a bunch of injured or mistreated horses chase one another around the racetrack for two minutes of fun.

There's a way to properly, lovingly maintain, train, and race thoroughbred horses.
Do that.
Not just England. And not just the real American horsemen and women who already do that. Nobody knows about you. You people who genuinely love horses and race them. The average unknowing spectator only sees the bad and the ugly, like Bob Baffert not getting punished, and they think the entire industry is like that. No accountability even when deserved. If the industry is actually falling apart, that's why. Most humans love animals and don't enjoy watching them die for our entertainment.
TRY NOT to kill them, problem solved.

Apply appropriate consequences to people who deserve them.
Watch your fan base grow and the track grandstands fill.
A whole new generation of equine admirers will be chomping at the bit to hear the rumbling of hooves, first-hand, as those gorgeous, muscular horses storm past them at the rail.

Make it happen, people. Make it happen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Triple Crown Mania--5 Questions with Assistant Trainer, Torrie Needham

Thanks, Torrie! Love your hair but that mane is pretty awesome!

Good Afternoon, Ms. Needham! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me today and share your years of industry experience and knowledge with me and my readers. 

Hi Ms, Tiffany, thank you for inviting me to comment for your blog again.  Sure Miss you since you moved to Texas.

Since I'm too excited to avoid talking about it any longer, let's get right to it...The Big Kahuna race coming up this Saturday...the Belmont Stakes! Woo-Hoo!!!

1) Why is this year's race so exciting?

TN: This year going into the Belmont, California Chrome looks like the most promising winner of the Triple Crown since 1978 and Affirmed.  Though back in 2012, I'll Have Another looked like a sure bet but opted out of running in the Belmont due to injury.  California Chrome is training extremely well and I think he has the talent to win this year.

2) California Chrome's challenging field is sorted and vast. Good horses. Horses with heart, good blood lines and solid conformation. Who do you see as the biggest competition for Cali Chrome and why? 

TN: Tough call, I like two horses going in.  Commanding Curve ran a game 2nd to California Chrome and looks like the added distance would suit him. Commanding Curve also will go into the Belmont freshened up since he skipped the Preakness. Ride on Curlin is my other pic. Getting a not so good ride in the Derby finishing 7th and coming back into the Preakness with a new rider and finishing a strong 2nd.  Not really sure Ride On Curlin will like the added distance. He's a tough colt but looking at his conformation, he looks more like a sprinter to me, where as Commanding Curve is taller and leaner conformation wise, more of a distance type looking horse.  Of course size never matters in horse racing.

3) What are your favorite California Chrome moments or races, traits or personality quirks? 

TN: I watched California Chrome gallop at the Derby, he was so relaxed with his Exercise rider setting his hands quietly on his neck. He gallops with a nice long stride.  I galloped horses for years and watching him gallop brought back so many memories of what it felt like when a horse gallops the way California Chrome does.  I could feel every stride.

4) Each individual Grade 1 stakes race in the Triple Crown series is unique and important. What are the individualistic details you'd attribute to the Belmont Stakes, its track surface and distance? And what special, maybe unknown or unfamiliar realities, make this race worth watching and rooting for horses, regardless of the way the TC campaign unfolds in any given year? 

TN: 1 1/2 mile races are rare and very few horses can go that distance. not to mention going that far when campaigning for the Triple Crown.  No 3 year old horse campaigns this hard otherwise.

5) What would a successful Triple Crown contender do for the horse racing industry? 

TN: When a horse gets close to winning the Triple Crown,  people who normally haven't any interest in horse racing suddenly get on the band wagon.  The Triple Crown is such an attention getter world wide.  Everyone loves the competition of such an endeavor that rarely happens.  It wouldn't be horse racing if we had a Triple Crown winner every year.  A Triple Crown winner this year would bring a positive influence on the industry that's been plagued with controversy over the past few years.

Torrie Needham is also a talented track photographer. If you'd like to check out some of her photos or order a few prints, this is the link for you: BurninDaylightImages.

Now, if you're still sitting there reading this post, but have yet to place your bet on Cali Chrome for the big win in this Saturday's Belmont Stakes, I fully appreciate your attention, however, think you need to get moving. Priorities, priorities, priorities...enjoy watching the race. Personally, I can't wait to see Chrome tear up that race track and win the Triple Crown title he so rightly deserves.

Go get 'em, California Chrome! Love your gorgeous chestnut hair and fancy sweeping gait. Peppermints all around for the winner's barn.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Save Yourself--Visit a Bookstore--Librarium, New York--Review

Help yourself. Visit an outstanding bookstore. Invest in the qualities that make you unique by picking a story with characters who leave you longing to explore the world and seek out new adventures. Nurture and nourish your inner voice.

Let your imagination and wildest curiosities aimlessly wander the aisles of a fabulous little used bookstore in East Chatham, New York. The Librarium. Love this place. It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it, seeing as how it's kinda out in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful, but still, honestly...middle of nowhere...nestled between the Hudson Valley and Berkshire mountains in upper NY state.

The large, lovely house is about an hour's drive north of Poughkeepsie and definitely worth the effort. Among the numerous and various treasures I found a gorgeous copy of Ivanhoe. Decorative printed cover, paper from another era and ink printed depictions of different story elements. Pretty, pretty, pretty. I can already feel myself slipping back in time, almost two hundred years, while reading it. I can't wait for the perfect rainy weekend to sit by my fireplace and absorb every word.

Two modern-day novels, one mystery and one literary fiction as well as an old Scottish verse novella also jumped out at me. Sci-fi, westerns, biography, cookbooks, sports, American history, historical world events and promises of things to come, that potentially have or have not passed, are all other subjects covered in this gem of a store. Many books on horses, African-American history, chess, golf and gardening also beckoned me. Alas, I only have so much room in my car.

One detail worth noting are the hours. A sign on the door literally reads, "Open most days 11-5pm by chance. (Whenever the 'Open' sign is on the porch just come right in!) Or by appointment...call (518) 392-5209." Look for the road signs, leading you to the old blue house. 

Librarium Bookstore, May 2014

Cash and credit are acceptable forms of payment. If you're searching for a hard-to-find or unique book but, unfortunately, don't find yourself in this breathtakingly beautiful part of the country, email them directly at: librarium@fairpoint.net. Also worth noting, books are crazy affordable. Love their prices.
126 Black Bridge Road II, East Chatham, NY 10260
(518) 392-5209

Don't wait for someone else to light your fire, seek out your own match and engage in a world that's right for you. Fiction feeds your imagination, non-fiction broadens understanding and perspective and historical tellings offer the chance to figure out how you fit into the world and where.

Librarium bookstore offers all these options in a fun, relaxing setting. You can even sit outside on their lovely, lush green, front lawn and enjoy lounging in the sun, in their Adirondack chairs, while you read your bounty.

Be kind to yourself. People often try their hardest to tell you how to think and act, but inside the pages of a book, you control your own interpretation of the world. Seize that opportunity. Become the individual you are meant to be. The world needs the authentic you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Horseracing Industry to Casinos: Save Me!

Warning: Optical Illusion Ahead

Which one of these is not like the other? Tell me by the time I finish this blog…

  •          Racebook, what’s that?
  •          Racebook, The Shell Game.
  •          Racebook, Find Me ALL OVER Atlantic City.

The short of it…Me, Atlantic City. Can’t find a racebook to place a bet to save my life! And no, I didn’t check one casino, or two or even three. I walked as far as my very willing and eager legs would carry me, passing multiple pedi-bicycle taxis along the way on the boardwalk. Meaning, had I grown tired of hoofing it, I easily could’ve grabbed a cabbie and been whisked away to any viable casino option.
Had I known how difficult it would be to place a bet off-track, I certainly would’ve bellied up to my very friendly mutuel cashier inside the Turfside Terrace tent at Pimlico on Black-Eyed Susan Day and put my money where my mouth is, then and there. I was headed to Atlantic City though, Las Vegas’ east coast sister. How could I not place a bet on an upcoming Triple Crown race that’s taking place in three weeks in a CITY that depends on gambling income for survival and sustenance?
It boggles my mind, it truly does; and not in a good way. How’s the horseracing industry expected to survive without fans having a physical location, off-track, to place bets? I live in Texas (If it could be a legal requirement that all Texans be horseracing fans, I’m pretty sure the Governor or some state representative would sign off on it.) and I still have to drive between three and four hours to arrive at a horse track to put money down at a live window.
Fans need RACEBOOKS! I’d even settle for a sportsbook at this point in time. Blame New Jersey for not allowing Atlantic City casinos to operate sportsbooks. Not that I think any other sport compares to horseracing enough to warrant glomming horseracing betting together with it. (Sorry football, basketball, hockey and car racing. Don’t even get me started on baseball or golf. Can a girl even bet on those sports?) Thoroughbreds are in a league of their own.
I want to place a bet on California Chrome, I really do! He’s going for Triple Crown glory, an accomplishment not met since Affirmed in 1978. When Cali C crosses that finish line in front of the herd, I’d like to celebrate knowing I did my part to make his effort worthwhile.
As proof of my determined efforts to find a book in Atlantic City [New Jersey], I offer up exactly where I pounded pavement in search of my horse heaven by the ocean.

  •       The Trump Taj where I stayed had a racebook until recently closing it. The sign above their poker room still lists “Racingbook” as an option for entertainment as of May 19, 2014.
  •       The helpful, courteous security man at Revel informed me that he thought one book was left on the boardwalk but didn’t know where. Definitely not the Revel.
  •       The Showboat, no racebook and no explanation as to when or why one was dissolved if it ever existed.
  •       No racebook at Ballys, no idea why. It’s Ballys, hello. And I’m in Atlantic City! Gambling anyone?
  •       Caesars Palace informed me that the closest location to place a bet in a race OR SPORTSbook would be Harrah’s casino IN PHILADELPHIA. Pennsylvania! That’s a whole other state.
  •       At Trump Plaza, up the boardwalk, I was informed by the floor manager that the Trump Taj had a racebook but the Plaza does not.
  •       The Trump Taj DOES NOT have an active racebook.
  •       And finally, the security manager on duty at the Tropicana was indeed informative, I just didn’t like what he had to say…the only racebook left on the strip was in Revel.
  •       Don’t run to REVEL, they DO NOT have one!

As tragically comical as I would find this reality did I not actually want to place a bet on the fabulous and very exciting Belmont Stakes, if the various casinos don’t even know where to send me to hand over my wad of cash so that they can, essentially, do nothing whatsoever besides TAKE MY WAD OF CASH and PERHAPS pay me a bit in return LATER, I can certainly understand why the horseracing industry is grappling with survival.
Fans need Racebooks, Sportsbooks and Racetracks. This idea that today’s horseracing fan doesn’t have the time or inclination to attend a day at the races and bet on horses is simply not true. I have many friends who enjoy spending their time at the track as well as watching the horses run. It’s fun. And exciting.
Maybe today’s horseracing [gambling] industry doesn’t turn as high a profit as general casino slot machines or card tables but when has it ever? Please somebody, give me a year. Comparing the two sources for profit is like saying a puny goldfish pulled from a pet store aquarium is going to offer up the same lavish capability for delicious sushi that an exquisite, healthy yellow tail would. Not going to happen no matter how much you wish for it.
For casinos to close race or sportsbooks and deny loyal, passionate horseracing fans opportunities to continue following a beautiful sport, they must not care whether or not the horseracing industry survives another century.
If England can maintain a healthy industry, why can’t the United States? 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Congratulations, Untapable and Rosie, winners of the Kentucky Oaks!!!

Rosie Napravnik aboard Untapable
Great photo by Steve Queen

I swore to myself that I was never going to admit this in public. But desperate times call for desperate measures so here we go...

Should you see me at the track and be looking for some betting advice heed this warning: Not that I didn't enjoy yesterday's Kentucky Oaks race once it got underway and out the other side of the gate. I thoroughly did! But my top three picks, honestly, could they have done any worse? I mean yes, if you consider that they didn't actually all three place last.

Speaking of which, poor Empress of Midway. I don't know what spooked her in the gate. I couldn't tell how she loaded because the camera broadcasting her loading was fixed on the front-side of the gate. Looked like she went in fine and that the gate crew didn't force her in, from that angle. But once she got in there, started rearing up, I think she's lucky (and the jockey) that she (or he) didn't get seriously injured. I was grateful to see her prancing back to the barn without much adieu. I searched for a favored leg or some slight limping in the replay and thankfully, didn't catch that either. Hopefully, for the O'Neill barn, she'll fare much better than Bond Holder in the aftermath of his ordeal care.

And if you still don't believe me that I have backwards luck when choosing the horses I bet on (Sugar Shock and Fashion Plate, my other top two picks for yesterday finished 8th and 11th.). Don't ask me why?! I thought they'd be able to boost in a little something extra at the end. Unfortunately for Gary Stevens (Fashion Plate) it looked like Fashion Plate had a gate issue, as well. She seemed to get ancy or nervous in the stall and was hopping around a bit. I'm not saying her break looked clean, but she just looked unsettled for a good portion of the run. Like her heart or mind were simply not into it or distracted. In Fashion Plate's defense, I would've been all out of sorts if my friend in the ten slip had issues and then we all had to re-load into our slots too. That's very confusing, all that in, but no race and out.

Not that they shouldn't reload the gate!

My horrible picks yesterday reminded me of a time I was at Del Mar betting on a six horse race. Just a normal stakes', nothing major. Just me having fun, trying to figure out the basics of choosing a horse based on all their stats and the various bits of factual information you can gather on them, should you want to approach the window "well-informed."

I was feeling pretty fancy that day and decided to bet on three horses to come in, in any order of 1, 2, 3. It was a proud moment for me. A big bet! Can you believe those little rascally horses, the ones I laid down money on, came across that wire, 4, 5, 6 (in no particular order). The three horses (OUT OF A SIX HORSE RACE!!!) that I picked, literally came across the line none of them winning, and all three in the non-money spots.

After yesterday, I think I must finally admit it. I don't pick winning horses when I bet. Technically, I mainly blame jockey Mike Smith. He's always showing off on other mounts and stealing my horses' wins. It could also be because all of those horses are so darn pretty that it's hard for me to admit favorites. Especially when they all just seem so happy to be tearing around that track, running alongside their friends. I mean, I know when I get in the company of my good friends...if one of them is wearing some sort of crazy, that-just-is-not-working, shirt (pattern or color combination) I don't dump that friend. I may suggest we only visit dimly lit establishments while we're out together that night? But shun them? Heavens no.

Bottom Line: Should you see me at the track and want to place a bet...either...a) ask somebody else for picks' advice. Or b) bet COMPLETELY OPPOSITE how I do. Do one of those things and you should be good to go.

Congratulations to ROSIE NAPRAVNIK! for taking home the gold riding shotgun on Untapable. Beautiful horse, great run, lots of spirit! There goes that Rosie again...never a dull moment watching her make things happen.

Don't forget to tune in today for the big Kahuna: THE KENTUCKY DERBY!!!
Post time is 6:24 pm est on NBC.
My picks are...ahhh! never mind!
(Insert big smile here...what are you going to do? They're horses. And therein lies the magic of the races. You think you know everything and then you don't know nothing!)
Thanks, horses for reminding me I'm a mere mortal human. We can't all be born equine. What a beautiful world that would be.

Update: Empress of Midway, that gorgeous gal! Apparently, she's as smart as she is beautiful. When she had issues in the gate yesterday, it is now being reported that she had the presence of mind to remain relaxed while awaiting rescue from that dastardly starting gate. Thankfully, she has been given a clean bill of health from Churchill Downs' on-call AAEP vet, Dr. Larry Bramlage. Don't worry, I've already put in an official request to have her run Black Eyed Susan Day, if she's up for it. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kentucky Oaks Contenders

"If you like it then you should've put a ring on it..." Beyonce.

Truth: Beyonce has the Single Ladies market cornered. I'd never attempt to compete with the queen. Not on booty-shaking or singing or fashion. At the least, that would require I sit still in a hairstylist and make-up artist's chair for an obscene amount of time and then do a bunch of clothes and shoes shopping. No, thank you! Unless I'm checking out the latest cool hair accessories or shoes for horses, I'll pass. 

One thing, Ms. Beyonce does understand though, is what a single lady needs. And yes, when she sings her song, Single Ladies, she's most likely thinking of human ladies. But I can't help but think of the gorgeous single beauties who will soon be competing, Friday, May 2nd, to be exact, in the Kentucky Oaks Derby

Thirteen contenders are currently on the list to tear up the racetrack. My top three picks are the beautiful Fashion Plate. Trainer: Simon Callaghan. Jockey: Gary Stevens. Owner: Arnold Zetcher & Michael B. Tabor. Seeing as how I've already admitted I am so very much not a fashionista, it might seem odd that I'd pick this horse, but with the Santa Anita Oaks win swiftly under her belt just a few weeks ago and Gary Stevens riding shotgun, I don't see how this lovely filly won't impress me with her efforts. 

My second top pick is Sugar Shock. I'm not going to lie, I love the name. Sure, I could pretend to be some expert handicapper and look up all sorts of stats as to what makes this filly impressive, but truth? When I saw that Calvin Borel was attached as the jockey, I got pretty darn (no, not dam-darn! Horse people, always thinking of the ponies.) Anyway...I got very excited at the idea of Calvin and Sugar Shock tearing up the track together. And yes, I love sweets. Brought home some butterscotch muffins with me tonight from the grocery. I don't see how that can do anything but help my odds. Butterscotch for breakfast? I'm pretty sure Sugar Shock would be very impressed! It's also worth noting, Sugar Shock is trained by Doug Anderson (Illinois native! Woo-hoo!!!) and owned by On Cloud Nine. 
Attribution: Coady Photography 
Third on my short list of lovely single ladies to watch come the big day is trainer Doug O'Neill's Empress of Midway. Mainly, I picked Ms. Midway because I follow the O'Neill barn on FB and have seen many of their horses train and race, in person. Any excuse to visit coastal Del Mar, the sadly now-defunct Hollywood Park, Golden Gate and Santa Anita race tracks are always welcomed at my front door. Empress of Midway has steadily been improving in her workouts and deserves ample consideration. Empress' owner, Daniel Kramer, being a veterinarian also boosts her street cred for me. I like to think that all of the horses running in highly graded stakes' races are properly being cared for and attended to all of the time, by all of their human caretakers. Go show your herd-for-a-day how it's done, Empress! Not that southern California needs more sunshine, but I hope you're able to take home a big golden win come Friday. 

Names of the remaining contenders for the Kentucky Oaks are as follows: Untapable, My Miss Sophia, Rosalind, Got Lucky, Aurelia's Belle, Ria Antoina, Kiss Moon, Fiftyshadesofgold, Unbridled Forever and Thank You, Marylou.  

If you'd like to check out all the contenders and catch a glimpse of some of their stats, the Kentucky Oaks page is a great place to get started. 

And if you can't get enough of Beyonce's Single Ladies, no matter how old the song is or how many times you've seen her booty shake, here's a live version for you. You're welcome! 

In closing, I feel compelled to point out, that just like Ms. Beyonce likes to tell the guys that they should've put a ring on it if they liked it, don't forget to put a bet on it if you like it! All the horses thank you in advance for your support and camaraderie. Should your bet pay off, pay that good luck forward by spending some of those big bucks in a conscientious way. Many non-profit after-the-track thoroughbred care organizations would welcome and greatly need donations to survive and properly care for these gorgeous creatures when they're done entertaining the humans. Trainer Dallas Keen and his wife, Donna's, Remember Me Rescue, is one such organization.