The media storm builds up in Santa Anita
Another day, another dollar! I'm back at Santa Anita again. We're bereft of the Mountain View this morning after a low fog blew in, but the track is the busiest I've seen it this week. Clockers' Corner is rammed and there are geeks galore all sporting stopwatches and pens on a rope.
Yesterday I did an hour's piece for a sports radio channel in 'The Steve Byk' show. Fairly fun stuff, the host is a huge racing enthusiast based over near Belmont Park. They were keen to have a European expert on the show, and whilst I'd never bill myself in that category, I hope I gave them some insights into our team.
The one thing that surprised me was how much sway they hold by Group One winners. Last year they were extremely keen on Bushranger in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile because of his wins in the Middle Park and Morny. I couldn't have him with counterfeit as felt the trip was beyond him, and feel the same about Radiohead in this year's renewal. Alfred Nobel is of immense interest though. I know he finished last in the National Stakes but he returned sore that day. He was drawn on the wrong side when 5th at Newmarket, travelled well and showed a nippy turn of foot that will be put to good use here at Santa Anita.
Aidan's string all worked again this morning. He's a bit like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Everyone just treks around after him either hoping that the success might rub-off, or desperate for an exclusive. Needless to say, neither ever happens.
He rode work on Lillie Langtry today. She's been one of the big buzz horses of the week. The Americans like her, and the Europeans like her, and more importantly, Aidan likes her. She looked great today, on her toes a bit post-work but just a strong filly. She was precocious enough to run a big race at Royal Ascot, and that will pay dividends against the forward American runners.
As I type I'm watching a Press Conference with Gary Player (famous golfer) Henry Cecil (famous trainer), Ben Cecil (famous trainer's nephew), and John Gosden (local celebrity).
Henry seems to observe the whole proceeding with half-disguised amusement. The American compere whilst ramping up the intro declared how: ''excited we all are about Twice Over in the Classic.'' Henry's riposte - ''Well you can't be that excited as you make him 20/1 here.'' He does seem quietly confident though, declaring that Twice Over is: ''Better than he has ever been, and has a much better chance than the betting reflects.''
I find him fascinating in an entirely improper way. I might have to add him to the inappropriate crush list along with the actor from the 'Just for Men' adverts and Comedy Dave from the Chris Moyles show.
Henry reveals that Midday will come on for her run in the Prix de L'Opera where she finished third to Shalanaya. I'm glad Tom Queally will be on her again. Nice lad and a smart jockey. If they win I'll be delighted, but wonder if Maram could punish the Europeans again after last year's victory in the Juvenile Fillies' Turf. She finished third last time out over a mile and the step-up will definitely suit the daughter of a Quest for Fame mare.
John Gosden has just smoothly paced onto the stage. Thankfully he's got his hat on. I much prefer him when he is sporting headgear.
He saddles Pounced in the in the Juvenile Turf. I didn't like him at all when I saw him this morning. But I can't really put my finger on the reason why. I don't profess to be the best paddock judge in the World and my checklist usually extends to a count-up of the number of legs, but I just didn't like him. I did like Viscount Nelson though. A big, strong sort and he walked beautifully.
I think I've explained about the Press Hotel which is in the centre of Pasadena. We're all based there whilst Trainers and VIPs are at a hotel closer to the San Gabriel Mountains. Ralph Beckett's very nice wife Izzie informed me that John McCririck is also based there and toddled down to sunbathe earlier this week. I really felt for her, no-one should have to see that.
Sir Michael Stoute was also spied there at lunch yesterday apparently sporting baby pink shorts, and a yellow shirt. Now, I'm not an expert in sartorial matters, but I'm almost certain that baby pink and yellow should be only seen together in a trifle. Not on a body. Thank God he can train.
So tomorrow is the opening day. I am really struggling with the Marathon but would make Mastery my tentative pick if the long season hasn't taken its toll. Lillie Langtry will carry my money on her back in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, whilst Always a Princess could take the crown in the Pro-Ride edition. Despite my crush I'll side against Midday in favour of the overpriced Maram in the Filly and Mare Turf. No financial commitment for me in the Filly & Mare Sprint, and I think the unbeaten Careless Jewel will win the closing race.
Until tomorrow everyone. I'm off to practice the Star Spangled Banner!