10/26/2010 11:42PM

Stormy Tuesday at Churchill Downs - 10-26-10


It began with whistling winds and painterly purple skies, picked up steam with some Breeders’ Cup-related workouts and reached a crescendo with a tornado warning, sheets of rain and a press-box evacuation (no tornado, though … my dream of seeing a tornado remains unrealized). Then, some of Todd Pletcher’s horses arrived beneath a slate-grey, drizzly sky, and well, that was pretty much my Tuesday at Churchill Downs.

It's always fun catching up with old friends, and California Flag is still pretty as a picture. His dark dappled coat seemed unchanged from last season as he bounded eagerly over the turf course.

Dubai Majesty is lovely, too -- near-black with a forward attitude. Her large star is accentuated by tufts of white cotton shoved in her ears, and I wondered, as I sometimes have: Why doesn’t anybody sell cotton to racetrackers in shades bay, grey, chestnut and black? It would sure help, especially with, oh, Zenyatta. She can give that “look of eagles” all day long (and does), but I still can’t help staring at the white cotton in her ears.

Dale Romans’ duo of Paddy O’Prado and First Dude jogged good-naturedly the wrong way this morning, ears up with bouncy strides. And Proviso was a stunning handful.


My favorite thing about the Breeders’ Cup is its international cast, and Espoir City is a treat. His trimmed mane was wonderfully thick as the high winds whipped it about, and his unusually handsome head prompted me to look up his pedigree. He’s by Gold Allure (JPN) and out of Eminent City (JPN) and at least one of them, I’ll bet, is quite the looker.


Heavy rains pelted Churchill around noon when a tornado warning forced our evacuation from the sixth-floor press box to the second floor (which provided nowhere near as good a view of the sky, said the photographer with her cameras at the ready). 

But the rain eventually settled into a light drizzle, and I traipsed backside for the arrival of some of Pletcher’s horses. First off the van was the blazed-faced chestnut Life at Ten -- an oversized mare with a powerfully confident walk. Uncle Mo appeared a bit later, and the quiet, unmarked bay gingerly worked his way down the loading ramp -- oh, so carefully, his head low paying attention to every step. That Uncle Mo seems quite the character, and I’m finding him evermore endearing.

I look forward to what else I’ll find as more vans roll in, more horses step down ramps, and we move a day closer to the Breeders’ Cup.


BobBow More than 1 year ago
Wonderful , wonderful photo journalism - comments of each horse was so interesting and fun to hear about. Photos were great , so enjoyable to see the horses and read your insights about them . One thing you missed - finding Rachel Alexandra , if she is still at Churchill . She has so many fans , like me , chomping at the bit to hear a little about how she is doing . Please , please look her up and snap a pic for us. If you've ever been crazy about a horse , you'll understand . Thanks,
suzanne More than 1 year ago
More, more, more please! You are the best new thing to happen to DRF in a long time. I knew you were a tremendously gifted photographer, but it has been a real joy to find out you write so well too. It is just great to have someone show us what we would all be looking for if only we could be there. Thank You, Barbara! Suzanne p.s. some of your Saratoga pics made me gasp they were so gorgeous!
Karen Wheaton More than 1 year ago
Nice article, lovely photos!
Darren Cook More than 1 year ago
Barbara, What a looker Espoir City is! Lovely and distinctive head and eye. Even without seeing that white strip down his face you have captured his character and focus. Please see if you can get a few shots up tomorrow of Marjan, the juvenile runner from Peru. I'm very interested to see how he has made the trip from the Southern hemisphere.
marcus hersh More than 1 year ago
Here's hoping for as many posts as possible between now and BC, Barbara. < Thanks so much, Marcus! It is so very nice hearing from you. I hope to see you soon... - Barbara >
The_Knight_Sky racing More than 1 year ago
The blazing California Flag seems to have rider Colleen Hartford up. Hoping to learn the names of the various riders in the mornings. I'm pretty sure it's "second nature" for Ms. Livingston, by now. ;-) < Hello, The Knight Sky - nice hearing from you. I'm trying to keep the blog 'light,' so I won't always list exercise riders' names (no offense to them - their names will generally be listed in DRF daily online articles). I'd add the names to the photos themselves but, with the size they're posted, the words would just look all jumbled. Colleen Hartford is indeed aboard California Flag - she does a great job. I hope to write about an exercise rider or two, or more, in the lead-up to the Breeders' Cup. And on days I write expanded blogs, their names will be mentioned. Thanks much for your suggestion! Hope you'll visit again - Barbara >
The_Knight_Sky racing More than 1 year ago
Thank you for your reply. It is duly noted. These people aboard the horses in the mornings are important also and hopefully they'll be mentioned for their work as space permits. Best wishes for this new DRF blog.
Alysse Jacobs More than 1 year ago
Okay, the Uncle Mo picture is hilarious and adorable. I love these narrations of the going-ons of Breeders' Cup lead-up. Just what I was hoping for.
RoMo More than 1 year ago
Ms B .. Once again the photos we want to see .. words we want to read ..! Thank You
Craig Peretz More than 1 year ago
Barbara, Who ever came up with the idea to give you a DRF blog should get a pay raise and a promotion. Your insight through your comments and lens is truely apprciated by this horse racing enthusiast. And, to get something on a tuesday/wednesday of a racing week (the dark days) is truely special. Thanks and great work. < Wow, now that is such a wonderful compliment. It's so much fun to chronicle racing's special moments and I love that you're enjoying them, too - thank you! - Barbara >
sherpa More than 1 year ago
Ms. Livingston - The pictures alone are great, but your accompanying commentary makes your blog one of the best for horse lovers and racing fans! I'd only seen one picture of Espoir City a few days ago and thought then that he had a truly magnificent head. Your closeup leaves no doubt that he possesses exceptional beauty. The clipped mane accentuates his stallion's "crown" and is a very nice touch. First Dude is so massive; but interestingly, the shape of his head/face appears to be very similar to EC's. Uncle Mo is a very special fellow. I, too, am enamoured of him (for sure, your earlier blog about him contributed to my infatuation!:-) Please the racing gods, he will remain healthy and happy to fulfill his amazing potential. Can't thank you (and DRF) enough for this blog! < Thank you so much for the very kind comments, Sherpa! I plan to post many more photos/stories in the coming days, and I very much hope you'll enjoy them. -Barbara >