Breeders' Cup Week & Championship Friday in Words & Pictures
by MELANIE MARTINES
Funny how time flies! I can’t believe it’s been a week since the Breeder’s Cup races. The anticipation of watching history is now behind us, and leaves us with fond memories of an exciting weekend at Keeneland Race Track. It’s all so bittersweet, and we can take away sweet memories that will forever be etched in our minds.
I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel 1600 miles to capture unforgettable moments reflecting Breeders’ Cup week in photos. This was my very first visit to state of Kentucky, and I was floored by the Southern hospitality that showered its’ visitors. An experience beyond words, the one thing I can confirm is that Elvis Presley was not joking when he sang about the cold Kentucky rain!
Flying in from the West Coast I must have been feeding off adrenaline when my alarm clock went off at 5:00am the next morning. Cold and rainy, I drove 45 minutes to Keeneland to photograph the Breeders’ Cup contenders galloping on the track. It was definitely very cold and a very sloppy track. Here are some photos of contenders who were out on Tuesday and Wednesday in the pouring rain.
Galloping over the sloppy track before the sun came out was Juvenile contender Exaggerator.
Juvenile contender Swipe galloping in the dark.
Juvenile Fillies contender, Rachel’s Valentina all busy before the crack of dawn.
Full of himself was Turf Sprint contender, Holy Lute.
Dirt Mile, contender Lea.
TwinSpires Breeder’s cup Sprint contender, Ivan Fallunovalot in the pouring rain.
Heavy rain could not stop Distaff contender, Salama gliding over the slop.
Filly & Mare Turf contender, Sentiero Italia splashes in the slop.
Juvenile Filly Turf contender, Pricedtoperfection getting ready for a gallop.
American Pharoah arrived into Lexington last Wednesday. The media patiently waited at Barn 62 in the rain. After he made his appearance, and once the crowd filtered out I was able to sneak my lens into the barn for these candid snapshots of owner Ahmed Zayat and American Pharoah.
What a sweet horse.
A precious moment.
A very affectionate Triple Crown winner.
On Thursday morning American Pharoah was making his first appearance at Keeneland training track. It was a chilly morning, but the rain had passed and blue skies were out. I was excited to see champion Lava Man out on the training track! Wow, does he look good!
American Pharoah galloped 2 ½ times around the five-furlong polytrack.
Media surrounding American Pharoah as he takes a bath after his morning gallop.
American Pharoah right after his bath.
On Friday Morning you could feel the energy as workers were making final preparations for the big race day. A total of 44,947 racing fans graced the track in high spirits for the big weekend.
In race 5, 4-year-old Race Day and jockey John Velazquez takes the G-2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes. Here they rally past Hopportunity.
Beautiful Gray, Race Day.
Race 6, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Hit It a Bomb was victorious in a thrilling finish.
Hit It a Bomb and jockey Ryan Moore.
Liam’s Map was able to overcome a bad trip, and pick up pieces through the race. He proved best in Race 7, Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Liam’s Map passes Lea in the stretch.
Liam’s map and connections walking to Winner’s Circle
In Race 8, 2-year-old Catch a Glimpse and jockey Florent Geroux broke sharply out of the gate, and pressed the pace throughout the race. She settled in and ran her race for the win in the G-1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Catch a Glimpse in the front lead.
In Race 9, Stop Charging Maria paid $16.20 for the win. She held off Steller Wind to capture the G-1 $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She had drifted out in the stretch, which led to stewards’ inquiry and objection after the race, but was ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to change the order of finish.
Distaff winner Stop Charging Maria.
The last race of the day was the G-2, 1 ¾ Marathon Stakes. As the sun broke through the clouds the beautiful gray, Bailoutbobby and jockey Joel Rosario came running to the finish line as if he was running into a scene in a Harlequin romance novel.
Close up of Bailoutbobby.
Majestic Harbor with the sun setting beside him. A beautiful sight after a great day of racing!