Reflections, memories . . . the Breeders’ Cup 2012

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Overheard as the horses walked out for the Classic, “Did you hear? They’re adding three more races, the Breeders’ Cup Harness Classic, the Breeders’ Cup Quarter Horse Dash and the Breeders’ Cup Stick Horse Derby.” Yes, there are too many races, and yes, it’s still the best show we have in America.

Santa Anita, still the best venue, although, the Breeders’ Cup was always meant to roam the continent.

Jockey Mike Smith smiling, “I almost feel guilty,” when asked about all his Breeders’ Cup wins. Later grimacing, “You always knew he had one of these in him. I just wish it wasn’t today,” when asked about Breeders’ Cup rookie Brian Hernandez winning the Classic on Fort Larned, by a neck over Smith on Mucho Macho Man.

Aidan O’Brien gently patting Joseph O’Brien on the back after the Turf Sprint. Yes, trainer/jockey, but more importantly, father/son.

The lawnchair frame of British-based jockey Richard Hughes. No jockey in the world reduces like Hughes.

“I bred the trainer too,” Fred Bradley, when asked about breeding Filly and Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll, trained by his son Buff.

The year of the little guy. Charlie Lopresti, Ian Wilkes, Hernandez, Mike Puype, Willie Martinez, the Parbhoos, the Argentine team of Calidoscopio and of course, Little Mike.

Julie Krone crying after Beholder won the Fillies Juvenile. The Hall of Fame jockey galloped the 2-year-old filly for Richard Mandella, memories of Halfbridled.

While the crowd roared, while Mike Smith threw flowers in the air, while connections posed, Bill Mott’s assistant Rodolphe Brisset stood behind Royal Delta, guarding her right hip from hitting the edge of the winner’s platform. It was inches, might as well have been miles, everybody needs a guardian. True horsemanship.

Dale Romans walking down the steps as Little Mike galloped out after upsetting the Turf, one of the rare times Romans was nearly speechless.

Looking into the eyes of Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez, Jen Patterson and the Point Of Entry team and seeing something slip away. No words, simply painful resignation. As Columbus said, it’s all about the trip.

Graham Motion looking like he was going to throw up before the Mile. Nerves. Graham Motion looking like he was going to throw up after the Mile. Frustration.

Lopresti sprinting onto the track and hugging Wilkes after the Classic. Friends, yes. Horse of the Year title, secured.

Alex Solis Jr. walking out of the grandstand, eyes wide, stunned by Mizdirection’s performance in the Turf Sprint.

It wasn’t a Breeders’ Cup race, but Grandeur at 5-1, winning the Twilight Derby made it a free weekend.

The hand-painted, one-word, psychedelic sign that read, “Trinniberg” on the front and “Go Willie” on the back. Hang it at Clocker’s Corner.

Trainer Mike Hushion walking to the track after The Lumber Guy chased Trinniberg the whole way, “I thought he had dead aim on him.” Me too.

Aaron Gryder explaining his instructions aboard Calidoscopio for the Marathon, “They told me to shut my eyes for the first mile, he knows what he wants to do, where he wants to be, then open them and ride him from there.”

Jockey Joe Talamo leaning over and giving California Flag a pat on the neck after finishing 13th in his fifth and final Breeders’ Cup. Eat grass, son.

Trainer Roger Varian taking the shank with Nahrain before the Filly and Mare Turf.

Five horses for the Juvenile Sprint, hoping it’s the last running we’ll ever see.

The sad sight of Sense Of Purpose and Flame And Glory struggling with the dirt in the Marathon. Most of the time, the paint wrecks the floor rather than sticks to the wall.

The legs of Flotilla.

Once again seeing the difference between sitting fourth or fifth on the turf (Zagora) and six or seventh on the turf (The Fugue) in America.

Royal Delta, the rare horse who slimmed down instead of filled out from her 3-year-old season to her 4-year-old season. Get the chisel and the rock, she’s the model.

George Vancouver reminding me yet again to mind Coolmore runners early rather than later in their careers.

Still wondering if I answered the text from England, expressing concern about Rosie Napravnik in the Juvenile. Would have said, “no wory she good.”

Nothing like seeing young fans wearing purple, walking through LAX Sunday morning.

See you next year, Royal Delta in the Classic, Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in a rematch, Point Of Entry getting revenge, the still undefeated Shanghai Bobby, six races Friday and six races Saturday . . .