Ghosts of Derbies Past…

Happy Oaks Day Everyone-

I’m writing this ‘live’-so to speak-from the backside at Churchill Downs on Friday morning.  That’s Kentucky Oaks Day in the racing world.  No, I didn’t haul my laptop with me to the track.  I’m sort of borrowing someone else’s……since she stepped out of her office for a little while. 😉  Thanks, Linda! 🙂

Anyway, as you would expect, things have gotten a little bit hectic this morning;  things have been crazy all of this week, actually.  I had all the intentions of posting a blog per day this week.  You can see how well that’s worked out. (we all know what the road to hell is paved with, don’t we?)

Now, before you all think that I’ve been partying and drinking heavily all week, and that’s why I haven’t been in front of my computer, well, you’re wrong.  It’s called being out at the track by 5 a.m., which means yours truly has to get up incredibly early every morning.  (at this point, several friends and family members-Kay, Linda, and Melinda in particular-are laughing heartily…they know how early I get up….because I’m a slooooow mover in the morning.  Ok, there, I admitted I have a problem.  That’s the first step, right??)  So, no partying, but plenty of sleeping….for the most part, being in bed by 8 p.m.

Ok, back on topic.  Today is Oaks Day.  There are two ‘big’ fillies/mares running today.  In the main attraction, the 135th KY Oaks, the star without a doubt, is Rachel Alexandra.  She is a standout in every way; talent, looks, etc.  Her connections are all wonderful people that have been in the racing biz for many years.  The other star is Zenyatta, the undefeated champion older mare of 2008.  She is making her seasonal debut in the Louisville Distaff, where she will face some stiff competition from the classy One Caroline.  I have to be honest….I’m looking forward to seeing Zenyatta more than watching the Derby tomorrow.  I hope she kicks ass today!

Mixed in with the excitement of Oaks and Derby days is a little bit of melancholy for me.  I always get a little bit homesick this week.  I’m a creature of habit, so I miss my routine (as boring as it may be!), my house, and most of all, my Bailey and Maxie.

I also have a tough time letting go of the ‘ghosts of Derbies Past’ (see how I worked the title into my story?? Clever, isn’t it?).  Derby Week brings back some sad times for me;  in 1994, which was my first Derby as an ‘official’ photographer, my dad was in the hospital.  He passed away less than two months later.  In 2004, I was going through another ‘rough patch’, to put it mildly, with my now ex-husband.  I’m not going into any details on that….my close friends and family who helped me through that time know all about it, and I will just say ‘thank you’ again to all of them.  For helping me just “shut off the damn phone!”. 🙂  Two years ago, my mom had hip surgery on Derby morning; she had fallen and broken her hip a few days earlier.  Being the tough lady that she is, she pulled through just great. 🙂

This year also marks the loss of some equine greats.  Derby winners Alysheba and Lil E. Tee both died recently.  Today I just found out that the great New Zealand champion Sunline had to be put down due to laminitis.  The daughter of Desert Sun captured 13 group I races and earned over $11 million dollars.

So, let me just tip my hat (which is pink, by the way, in honor of the ‘pink out’ here on Oaks Day for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure…everyone is urged to wear pink) in loving honor to my late dad, to my family and friends, to my mom, and to my horse heroes.  Without them, I wouldn’t be here today.  Thank you all!


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