With the Saratoga meet approaching at a fast and furious clip– as of this writing, only 23 days remain!– it’s time to get my itinerary together and start thinking about this year’s bucket list. I always have some sort of mental checklist I want to do with every meet, and while some things on this year’s list are familiar, a few are new and there’s a number of them that I aim to check off more than ever before.
1) Attend the Whitney Stakes for the fifth straight year. It’s an amazing and important race for our older horses, and it’s my favorite race of the Saratoga meet. Last year’s, won by Honor Code, was one of the most memorable races of the year with one of the most incredible fields in recent memory. Let’s hope this year’s field is a doozy!
2) Get some new incredible images at the Oklahoma training track, where I usually start my days. It has a history of producing some very incredible early sunrise lighting as well as some notoriously finicky fog. I’m hopeful that the weather will be good to me this year and the sky will produce some great results.
3) Stop by a Fasig-Tipton sale. I’ve yet to make it to any kind of sale so far, and I’d like to peruse some nice young’uns.
4) See Lady Eli run again. This wish depends on so much going right for our equine heroine. We’ve got an incredible replacement with Royal Ascot superhorse Tepin, but I’d like to see Eli return to the Spa in her comeback race.
5) Get Ramon Dominguez and Chad Brown to autograph my Dayatthespa saddle towel from her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf run. I’ve had it a while and I’ve missed a few opportunities to have it done before, so this year I want to get it done. Ramon will be inducted to the Hall of Fame this year as well as likely attending the Jockey Legends signing on Saturday, August 13. Now all I gotta square away is a Chad Brown appearance…
6) A JUBA WIN at the Spa! He can do it! He was very close last year to a win and has already won at Aqueduct and Belmont. Time for a hat trick! Perhaps I shall make a new sign to go with it…
7) Make it down to the saddling paddock at Saratoga. I’ve been in the Aqueduct and Belmont paddocks, so now a Spa appearance is a must-do. Lucky for me I have a small share in a two-year-old colt who aims to run at the Saratoga meet if all goes well…
8) Go see the diving horse at the Magic Forest near Lake George.
9) Hit a big pick 4. I’ve come heartbreakingly close before (missing just one of the legs by less than a length… twice!) to a score of $1,500 or more. That would solve a couple problems of mine!
10) Steal a new picture of Todd Pletcher in rare form– smiling!
11) Try a new flavor of ice cream at Stewart’s Shop. My go-to stop on the way home is the one just off the Malta exit.
12) Attend the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the first time, and for two of my big loves: Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra! (I have press credentials for this year, thank you NMRHOF!). I also intend on touring the museum for the first time, hopefully with Tom Durkin leading the way!
13) As a relatively new fan of TURN: Washington’s Spies, I aim to get out to visit the historic battlefield at Saratoga, where I can tsk Benedict Arnold out loud at the site of his greatest military success before turning into a big idiot.
14) Say hello to a hero… last year’s biggest victim of mine was trainer Jimmy Jerkens in the morning hours.
16) Wear a pink shirt for the first time to Fabulous Fillies Friday. I bought one pink shirt last fall specifically for this reason!
17) Visit the Yaddo Gardens for the first time.
18) Feed a track pony a mint. I go on the backstretch tour every year and I always seem to leave the candy and carrots at home.
19) Catch a future G1 winner in action in the morning. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it in recent years, let’s keep it going.
20) I have yet to attend one of the steeplechase races. That might be a cool thing to shoot for…
Have a list of your own? I trust you will get inspired after reading my own, and do share your thoughts as Friday, July 22 draws near…