As my readers know, thoroughbred racing is my favorite sport. In my previous blogs, I have discussed the reasons why I love it so much (the thrill of the equine athletes competing against each other, the jockeys’ using their strategy, etc). One reason that I didn’t go into is that horse racing fans can get access to their favorite equine superstars fairly easily.
As most sports fans know, outside of spring training, and training camp, it isn’t as easy to meet high profiled NFL and MLB players. Even when you go to the hotels, there is security that understandably keeps fans at arms lengths away from the players. In the offseason, as I live in Kentucky, it would not be easy for me to meet someone like Tom Brady walking down the street. Heck, even WWE is trying, and I emphasize trying to keep fans away from their “superstars” and divas by locking down the hotel at Mania time.
However, with horse racing, there are horse farms that allow visitors, at least the large majority of them , and fans get to meet their heroes once they are retired to stud. During the year, from February to July, is the breeding season, so that is not a good time to visit, unless there is an open house. However, from August to January is when farms allow visitors to see retired horses at stud, meaning males. There are some that may allow you to see the females, particularly if they are really famous.
[adinserter block=”2″]However, this blog is about my visit with a horse that is STILL competing . Her name is Harve De Grace. She just finished fourth in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, and is a leading candidate for the 2011 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year, as she has had a fantastic year. She had 5 wins out of 7 starts. She finished second by a nose in the Delaware Oaks to her longtime rival, Blind Luck. She is owned by Rick Porter, and trained by Larry Jones. Her regular rider is Ramon Dominguez. She is a bay filly by St. Liam. St. Liam unfortunately produced one crop before he died in a stall accident, so this young lady is the star. She will be running next year as a five year old.
Mr. Porter decided to rest her at the famed Vinery Farm in Lexington, KY before sending her down to Vinery Florida in December to get her ready for her 2012 campaign. He, along with Vinery , decided to have a party for “Grace” and let fans come to see her. This is very rare to see, but this was very nice of Mr. Porter to let fans have access to a horse that is not only a leading candidate for horse of the year, but a horse that is still going to be in training. He deserves a huge thank you for this.
So, here is my story about meeting a wonderful filly:
The party started at about 1pm. I arrive on the property, and it was a huge farm, as a lot of them are, and followed the signs to the party. Vinery is beautiful. I arrived at the training barn a little after 1pm, and there were about 15-20 people there, and there was a table with freebies and hats and shirts that were being sold for charity. I went to take some photos of Grace, and was taken back by how beautiful she was. She is a big horse too. Grace was a very gentle horse as well. People got to pet her, and got photos with her. I got three of them with her, and Grace nuzzled up against me, and I got one of that also. I loved her when she ran, and I love her even more. What I love about encountering horses is that they have their own personalities like people.
The handlers took her outside a couple of times, and I got some great shots. They paraded her around, and she grazed a few times. She was so elegant , and aware of her surroundings. She was the belle of the ball, and she knew it. Racehorses, especially top ones, know they are great. They know when they are being photographed. The late Secretariat was such a ham. Anyway, the weather was also so perfect, and the sun just glistened on her coat. She really is a beauty.
[adinserter block=”1″]I met up with a friend I knew on facebook, and I chatted with people at the event. Horse racing fans are so much fun. Just like other fans of other sports, we have our favorite horses, jockeys, trainers, etc. We have those we don’t like either. Talking horses is just as fun as talking football or talking baseball in my opinion. We horse people really have a great time together.
I left around 2:30pm. I had a great time, and I would like to thank Rick Porter, and Vinery for the opportunity to meet Harve De Grace, and for the great hospitality. I hope that she has a successful 2012, and that she gets voted Horse of the Year.
I have enclosed some photos, so I hope you enjoyed them.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead