Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
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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. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Illinois Derby Update

And the winner is...brace yourself, it was an upset. Favorite Midnight Hawk was chased down in the stretch by DYNAMIC IMPACT. Congrats to Dynamic Impact and his humans: jockey, Miguel Mena, trainer Mark Casse and owner John Coxley. I'd thank the groom, hot walker and exercise rider by name too, alas their names are not officially listed on racing registries or programs.

Enjoy this exciting race by clicking here: Thanks, horses for entertaining me!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

R.I.P. Bond Holder, You Will Be Missed.

A beautiful horse died today. He had a fun name and I liked to say it...Bond, Bond Holder.

Maybe part of his allure to me was that enticing memory I always get of promised adventure, cherished hope and impish boyish qualities best described as Pierce Brosnan era, James Bond? Whatever the case, Mr. Bond, the horse, captured my heart with his spirited nature, beautiful demeanor, lovely stride and delectable stalwart efforts.

I can't figure out why this horse's passing hits home so much, for me. I didn't breed, own, house or train him. He wasn't my pen pal. We didn't even exchange Christmas or birthday cards the way good friends do. Sure, I asked Lava Man to share his peppermints with Mr. Bond when I'd send those to the O'Neill barn at the holidays, but personal ongoing correspondence, Mr. Bond and I did not have. Unless you counted Facebook, which I don't, given the impersonal nature of it.

So why, why, why does Bond Holder's passing make me so sad? Feel personally pressing? Like someone yanked my heart out of my body, stuck it inside a cast-iron waffle maker, then sealed the top, sat an elephant on top of the press and told it to shake.

What is this intimate attachment I feel to horses?

#1: Vulnerability. Horses are reliant upon people for daily care and needs. Understanding this, encourages a compassionate person to want them to receive the best care and quality of life.

#2: Patience. Horses teach it even if and when a human doesn't want to be listening. Acquiring patience and cultivating it as a daily habit creates and enables a calmness, a private inner peace to anchor in the mind and prevail during dark and challenging times.

#3: Horses are simple. Pure. Learn their general breed instincts and pay attention to individual personality quirks in your own herd and their wants and needs are basic. Easy. They demand grass and feed, water and space. And they want companionship, love and attention. So much easier to figure out than any non-communicative, moody, self-absorbed human.

(Give me four hooves over two heels any day.)

#4: Horses don't have or want to have agendas. You feed and love them, they nourish and love you. Maybe not grain for grain, seed for seed, hay strand for hay strand, but core truth to core truth. Sentient being to sentient being.

#5: Horses existed on this planet long before I did. I think this fact-based reality has earned them the right of my respect. Yes, that means, I, as a human, must admit that I have few, if any, real answers to life's confounding questions. But that's okay. I can admit that.

The older I get, the more I realize, life is most often hued in simultaneously varied shades of gray. And I'm fine with that because the gray area holds promising, untapped potential and hope. The potential for people to choose to act better. And the hope that they will.

These are a few of the things that horses like Bond Holder have taught me. Heart, spirit, boldness and truth win out every time. You simply have to know where to look for it. The eyes of a horse is the perfect place to start.

Come on, Illinois Derby, Mama Wants to See A Strong, Happy Horse, Kentucky Derby Contender!

Kentucky Derby season has sneaked up on me this year. Maybe it's because I held out hope that I'd get to see Doug O'Neill's Bond Holder run a few races in prep. Alas, one wild Fed Ex plane ride later (one, I sadly recall as Mr. Fed Ed gone awry) and all those dreams went out to pasture, and have yet to return to the barn for proper grooming.

Hang in there Bond Holder. Take care of yourself. I look forward to getting to see you do your thing in your 4-year campaign.

One exciting race taking place today, unfortunately without, the impressive Mr. Bond is the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Racetrack. Contenders include: Global Strike, A Step Ahead, Dynamic Impact, Class Leader, Emmett Park, Midnight Hawk, King Cyrus and Irish You Well.

Officially listed as long shots, A Step Ahead, Irish You Well and Emmett Park are obviously the most fun bets to make if you're looking for nail biting excitement. As I just trimmed my nails and have nothing left to bite, I'll be sticking with, Lord help me, please Bob Baffert don't be administering Thryo-L to poor little Midnight Hawk unless he actually needs it, Midnight Hawk. He is a beautiful horse who certainly has proven that he's got the chops to win. It also doesn't hurt that he's owned by some people who live in the best city on the planet, my home town--CHICAGO!!!

A big shout out to Rosie Napravnik, who never disappoints when she races. I'd love to see King Cyrus cross the line first and it could certainly happen with Ms. Napravnik riding shotgun.

If you're late to the starting gate, like I am this year, but still want to place a bet for the Illinois Derby check out this link: Twin Spires.

Also, check back later as I'll be posting the race as soon as it becomes available online.
And most importantly, don't forget post time is 1:45pm cst.

Update: O'Neill Racing sadly reported, moments ago, that the spirited, beautiful Bond Holder whose been fighting laminitis since his horrible plane flight a few months ago, has finally succumbed to his illness. He will be deeply missed by his humans and trainer(s) at Team O'Neill as well as his owners at Reddam Racing. Poor Bond Holder. When does life get fair? Please email me the date because I'd like to wake up bright and early that morning and take it all in, every second.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy Spring!

I know, I know, sheep are not horses. All the two animals share in common are four legs. Still I can't help but want to share this silly image that brings a smile to my face. It is Spring after all and they sure do look pretty. Thanks, sheep for all the upcoming colorful sweaters the next time you are sheared. Animals...they always seem to know just the right way to make a girl feel good.

And if you're wondering how and why these lovely creatures are dyed, fear not! The dye is non-toxic. The same farmer apparently dyes his herd every year to entertain motorists as they zip past his farm. Another great reason to visit Bathgate, Scotland.

Thanks also to berlin-artparasites for the awesome photo.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Attention, Parents, Attention!

Shipping. No, I'm not talking boats or cross-continental oceanic mishaps. Tall sails. Or threading the Panama Canal in an over-sized vessel. (Measure before you go, people. Measure.) 

I'm talking Relationships. Romance. Cooing. Longing. Love.

Recently, I had the significant pleasure of traveling to Florida and visiting with my 14 year old niece. While galavanting about one afternoon she mentioned she loved "shipping" a girl and a guy. A couple. Books, TV, movies. She had to hold the couple near and dear to her heart and be strongly invested in their experience and outcome as a couple to care enough to ship them.

I pretended to understand what she was talking about when in my mind I was lost worse than a cat in a bag caught in a storm, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. While faking understanding, I simultaneously logged into my brain, "shipping, shipping, shipping?" Did she just say some slang variant shit? (A reality her mother would be mortified to accept.)

After further numerous empty-headed moments, and serious raucous debate in my head, I realized that a) the clouds would either fall from the sky before I'd figure out this terminology's interpretation on my own. Or b) I could ask my niece point-blank what the heck she meant. I picked the latter. Happily, she's a talker and loves explaining herself.

SHIPPING: Not to be confused with wave runners or canoes, sailboats or power boats, pontoon or paddle. (And no, you're not headed to the post office, UPS or Fed Ex, either.) The term, when falling from a teenager's mouth, references two ships passing in the night. A boy and a girl who either like or can't stand each other, being forced together for whatever reason. He and she inch closer by circumstance, situation or experience, and uncontrollably fall in like or love with one another. (Rick Riordan is apparently a genius at this! Namely in his Percy Jackson series.)

That's the general gist of it. Good to know romance is still alive, although I'm still slightly confused as to how everybody gets turned into boats.

So if you're feeling outwitted, outnumbered or just plain atrociously ill-informed (like me), yet are still brave enough to walk where teenagers hover, swirl or pounce in packs, take heart, you now know something that should give you an in. Say it boldly, say it with confidence. (Never let them see you sweat.) I'm shipping so and so this weekend...how about you? The teen in your life may think you're crazy but you'll be killing it with the cool factor.