Kentucky Royalty

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Nothing like a trip to Kentucky. Seven and a half hours down, eight hours back (drank too much coffee), now home for a few days. Lexington, Kentucky, it’s been called the horse capital of the world. Who could argue after the trip I just made – Medaglia d’Oro, Animal Kingdom, Hard Spun, Street Sense, Elusive Quality (et al) on parade, Blind Luck on the auction block and Wise Dan in a field. Nothing like it.

Helped with Darley’s stallion parade on Sunday. Tried to tell stories and look at the stallions all the same time. Not easy. Bernardini, Medaglia d’Oro, Street Sense and Elusive Quality nailed their poses, regally standing in front of observers. Animal Kingdom is just about there, staring into the distance like he was listening to the Derby call, head held high, but he wouldn’t plant his right front leg, next year he’ll have it down. The rest have work to do as far as modeling, they’re good but not quite there. The best ones know it.

Watch the highlights of the Darley Stallion Show. 

I hadn’t seen Blind Luck up close and personal since she won the Alabama at Saratoga in 2010. Light and angular then, she’s changed, wider and heavier, a lady now. It looks good on horses. Listening to the auctioneer, rattle past the million mark, you could tell she wasn’t selling. Silly game we play.

On the way out of town, I make one last stop, through the one-light town of Athens, down the road and up the driveway of Charlie and Amy LoPresti’s farm. Amy waits for me in the dark at the top of the driveway, we walk to an old tobacco barn, light slivers through the slats onto the frozen ground. My old friend Wise Dan stands in his stall, between two ponies, he raises his head, shakes it like he’s shaking my hand. I’ve stopped by to see the two-time champion on a hundred mornings at Saratoga, Keeneland, the Breeders’ Cup…he’s never cared. In the dark and cold of a January morning in Kentucky, he puts his head on my chest, like were old friends. 

I snapped some photos of Wise Dan in his paddock, leaned on a fence post and watched my old friend for a few minutes – never long enough. I’ll share the photos and the thoughts tomorrow. 

As my great friend George Baker, who won a race in Dubai yesterday, says – must dash.