This past weekend the Midwest Paddock Report reached its first milestone: credentialed media for a graded stake. We packed up the team (Heather and Ted) and off we went to Florence, Kentucky to cover the Spiral Stakes and the Bourbonette Oaks. While Ted ended up not having a “Midwest” angle to write about, that doesn’t mean it was a wasted opportunity – the MWPR is able to bring you the following photo essay featuring Heather’s photos of the weekend at Turfway Park.
Florence, KY – The backside on a racetrack appears to be the perfect storm of sights and sounds to dismantle the allegedly fragile psyche of a Thoroughbred. Upon closer inspection, however, there is an order to the chaos that belies the demeanor of the horse. Entry and exit are controlled and timed works are scheduled with jockeys and clockers. Speed works on the inside and jogging on the outside keep everyone where they need to be and out of harm’s way.
As the morning ticks along, monitored carefully by the stopwatches of anxious trainers and the occasional owner, the order and control balances on the edge of a knife. Less experienced horses take the track and can prove to be unpredictable.
Once the renegade is corralled and the sirens stop, order is once again restored and the work continues, albeit a bit behind schedule.
Morning transitions to afternoon and blue collar gives way to pomp and pageantry. While some are at the track to be seen, the majority in this land where the horse is part of who you are not just what you do have followed family lines – both equine and human – for decades. They flock here to see if their favorite farm, stallion, trainer or jockey will be able to take the next step forward and capture another piece of history.
While legends are made in the Bluegrass and grow larger over time taking many varied roads to success, all have one detail in common: horse, rider, trainer and owner all had to achieve their first win before they could achieve anything else.
As the day moves along the crowd grows larger, the press corps gets deeper and the stakes get higher – but it’s also still another work day.
$150,000 Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks
$550,000 Grade 3 Spiral Stakes
When the sun set on the racing day, it took with it the Derby dreams of many. Whether the Spiral winner can transition his turf and synthetic form to the dirt the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs remains to be seen, but for one moment in time, Dubai Sky is the toast of the Thoroughbred world in Northern Kentucky. While in the morning, the track will again give way to muscle and sweat that make champions possible.