Breeders' Cup Blog Wednesday
William Hill's own Kate Miller gives us her take on The Breeders' Cup
Just fifty feet to my left-hand side sit two of the most famous pieces of racing architecture in the World. The Twin Spires of Churchill Downs, home to the famous Kentucky Derby - and this year- to the 2010 Breeders' Cup Championship.
As iconic as Tattenham Corner at Epsom, the skyscrapers of Happy Valley, or the Chateau at Chantilly, they loom above the racecourse, as millions of dollars of horseflesh dance their morning workouts below. For racing fans, it just doesn't get much better.
After a long day travelling yesterday I convened (as is our annual tradition now) with the British Press Corps at the media hotel to see if I'd missed any gossip (I hadn't), and to get some sleep (I didn't)
Then, awake at 5am this morning, I got up to head down to the track for work. Star of American TV Graham Cunningham gave the directions to the track: '' make a left at the lights, a right at the next, hit third and keep going.'' Not quite the words of a Mowtown song, but he made it sound pretty American nonetheless.
And so it was to a freezing cold Churchill Downs that I arrived. Even after two trips to Santa Anita the accessibility in America still astounds me. Never was the contrast between Britain and America more obvious than when I parked outside a stable (yes a STABLE!), and walked up through the barns (rows of stables) and up to the end of the back-straight.
The track was as alive as the M25 during rush hour with a plethora of big-bottomed sprinters, tantrum-ing two-year-olds, and wizened old ponies all breezing, trotting, or strolling the dirt and turf tracks.
We had a quick chat with Paul Burns - assistant to Manton Maestro Brian Meehan - who had just ridden work aboard Mantoba - the yard's Juvenile Turf contender. He seemed fairly relaxed about all of his fancies, highlighting Theysken's Theory as one of their best chances of the week.
As a daughter of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini 'TT' is perfectly bred for this challenge, and looked super sweet on the track this morning.
My pigeon French got a brief outing when trying to woo the Goldikova contingent into imparting an exclusive titbit, but it wasn't to be. Apart from attempting a bit of 'C'est tres froid' and 'comment est Goldikova?' The most I got was some Gallic shrugging and lip-pursing. So much for us all being one big European happy family!
She looked well though, and apparently will run with the benefit of lasix again in a mirror image of 2009. The post-position draw was unkind again, but after 13 of 13 at Santa Anita last year, i'd be confident of her overcoming stall ten this year.
Paco Boy - who looked in great nick working this morning was allocated stall six. But could the tide could be turning for Hannon's hope? And am I the only one with a sneaking suspicion that Paco might be a bit of a 'bottom man'?
He has finished directly behind Goldikova three times now in the Jacques Les Marois, Foret, and Queen Anne. I still maintain that he is going to be the one that Goldi's going to have to graft to beat though, and I think it'll be some race.
Both horses are running their last races on the track, one, looking to cement a place in equine history, and the other to achieve a fitting finale to a rags- to-riches tale? Not even Hollywood could have written this one.
Hollywood however, will sure be looking to write the 'Zenyatta' story. The hype is truly incredibly, and surpasses anything I've witnessed in my short career in racing. We received almost hourly updates on her journey across from California today, and one member of the American press was tracking her plane online.
We know (because they told us at the track) that her plane landed at 11.35am local time, and she then had a police escort to the track. Now, the only other lady I can think of that gets that treatment is the Queen. I will let you draw your own conclusions about the newest member of American royalty!
Fate even dealt her a great hand with stall eight in the Classic, whilst whilst 'Lucky was left looking at the car park taking stall 12. To coin the age-old expression, 'Bummer'. Connections must be gutted, and I am really. I want her to race her way into equine Valhalla barging every opponent out the way, no excuses.
The more I look at her form the more I believe she will do it though. I know that Lookin at Lucky has more dirt experience, but both of Zenyatta's wins at Oaklawn have yielded her two biggest winning margins. It feels like an empty argument to me.
So I am taking the woman's prerogative and changing my name. I'm in the Zenyatta camp, and i'm not moving.
I know it's cheesy to imprint human behaviour onto animals, but I'm really hoping she looks around her rivals' stables tonight and channels the words of Louisville's most famous former resident.
'' "If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologise."