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Stride march 17, 2010 Issue No. 2

UNDEFEATED

Zenyatta wins, keeps streak alive; Rachel loses, withdraws from Apple Blossom; Race for the Ages postponed

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Issue No. 2

March 17, 2010

Contents Main attractions COVER STORY

6 Missed Date with History

Rachel Alexandra’s withdrawal from the Apple Blossom means any showdown with Zenyatta will have to wait.

10 Focused on Success

Anna Roberts fulfills her lifelong dream of being a jockey. By Scott Serio

22 The Voice of Oaklawn

After 36 years of calling races, Terry Wallace has seen it all. By Ryan Patterson

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26 Going Back to Gulfstream

Visiting the renovated track for the first time without Dad. By Stewart Winograd

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36 A Taste of the Big Easy

Jockey Robby Albarado takes us on a tour of his favorite New Orleans eateries. By Michelle Yu

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Other Features 7 Scene at the Track

30 Upcoming Graded

Photos of Zenyatta’s victory March 13 and Rachel Alexandra’s stunning defeat.

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Stakes Races

34 Kentucky Derby Power Rankings

3 Wild Derby Prep Races Results from the San Felipe Stakes, the Rebel Stakes and the Tampa Bay Derby. By Brian Zipse

40 Lineage

Lacey Gaudet writes about pursuing her goal of becoming a top trainer (Part Two of Two).

18 On the Tarmac

What to see and do in Hot Springs, AR.

20 Feeding the Multitude

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Best places to eat in Hot Springs. By Scott Serio

on the cover: Zenyatta takes her usual position at the back of the pack at the start of the Santa Margarita Invitational;

the mare made a last-to-first move to remain undefeated. photo:Charles Pravata/Eclipse Sportswire Stride Magazine

A subsidiary of ESW Media P.O. Box 4 Colora, MD 21917 A bi-weekly publication

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STRIDE MAGAZINE

March 17, 2010

CONTACT INFORMATION E-mail: stridemagonline@gmail.com Phone: 443.693.3454

EDITORIAL STAFF Publisher: Henry Hill Design Director: Dave Zeiler Photo Editor: Scott Serio


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Missed date with history

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Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Eclipse Sportswire

he debate about whether Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta is the better horse will have to wait. Zenyatta marched closer to history on Saturday, running her unbeaten streak to 15. Twenty minutes earlier, most of the horse racing world was left stunned at the defeat of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra as the 1-to-9 favorite at the Fair Grounds. What had been billed as the “Race for the Ages” is off. The Rachel Alexandra camp is reeling after the loss, and connections have no idea when she will return to the races. Zenyatta, on the other hand, will have the record of 16 straight unrestricted wins – held by Citation and Cigar – in her sights on April 9. What Rachel’s performance lacked, Zenyatta delivered. The 6-year-old mare left the gate slowly and trailed the field most of the way. At the head of the stretch, jockey Mike Smith roused Zenyatta into action, only to be faced with a wall of horses. Track announcer Trevor Denman made the call: “Where is Zenyatta gonna go? She’s got nowhere to go.”

Another Z of trainer John Shirreff’s, Zardana, scores a monster upset over 1-9 favorite Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies.

The answer to the question came quickly. Ten seconds after lamenting Zenyatta’s traffic problem, Denman’s call was more upbeat: “Zenyatta is playing with them. Yes, another un-be-liev-a-ble win!” Next up: history. Meanwhile on the bayou, the furor hasn’t quite

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Photo: Cynthia Lum/Eclipse Sportswire

co m m en tar y

Mike Smith celebrates after Zenyatta notched her 15th straight win in the Santa Margarita Invitational.

started … yet. There hasn’t been much fingerpointing after Rachel’s loss. Trainer Steve Asmussen is content to blame himself and blame the overall conditioning of the filly. One question persists. The Rachel camp went out of their way to prepare everyone for the fact she needed a race to progress her reconditioning. In essence, they prepared the world for the possibility that their charge might lose. By all accounts, Rachel exited the race well and received the conditioning she needed. Sure, no one is happy she lost, but why are they skipping the Apple Blossom? You can believe the quotes provided by Jess Jackson about the fitness of the filly, as he put it. But the reasons for skipping a $5 million race might run deeper than that. It has been mentioned by quite a few people that there might be another motivation. Not only does Jackson own Rachel Alexandra, he also owns the retired (and current career earnings leader) Curlin. The speculation is that Jackson is not exactly thrilled with the idea of going to Hot Springs to lose to Zenyatta, hand her $3 million and move her that much closer to eclipsing Curlin’s record. In the end, you have to believe that everyone involved is making decisions based on what is best for the horses. But horse racing is big business, on and off the track. For Hot Springs, the defection of Rachel Alexandra from the Apple Blossom is a disappointment. As one local commented before Saturday’s events, “I think people are writing checks based on something that might not even happen.” Indeed. The upside for Hot Springs and Oaklawn Park is that Arkansas Derby weekend usually draws between 60,000-70,000, no matter who is running. Zenyatta is still coming and will be a huge draw for the town: Zenyatta remains on course for several dates with history. Without Rachel, Zenyatta will be the star, the main attraction. She likes it that way. On April 9, all 17 hands of Zenyatta will be out there doing her signature “war dance” during the post parade, letting another group of soon-to-be-vanquished foes know who is really the queen. h


top Photos: Charles Pravata/Eclipse Sportswire

scene at the track

Top left: Mike Smith gives Zenyatta a hug before winning the Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA.

Bottom Photos: jonathan bachman/eclipse sportswire

Right: Zardana’s jockey David Flores breathes a sigh of relief after scoring the stunning upset over Rachel Alexandra.

Top Right: Zenyatta’s star power was in full force. She even drew out Dustin Hoffman, Academy Award Winner and star of HBO’s new horse racing-based pilot ‘Luck.’

Fans lined the track to show support for Rachel Alexandra.

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Derby Prep races mak

San Felipe Stakes Santa Anita Park

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he San Felipe might have left the most unanswered questions of any Derby prep to date. Not only was the race contested on a synthetic surface, but the running of the race proved little as far as which will be legitimate horses on the first Saturday in May. The San Felipe proved the wisdom of the old adage “pace makes the race.” The winner was Sidney’s Candy, who got loose on the lead in slow fractions. It was the first race at a distance for the son of Candy Ride, and he looked good, but the Derby will be run with a much faster pace, which should prove a challenge for him. Interactif finished second a half-length back, and Caracortado was third. Interactif, coming off the turf, stalked the winner and was game the entire stretch to finish closest at the wire. Race favorite Caracortado was farther back off the slow pace, made two moves and was forced wide on the far turn. All things considered, his third-place finish was no disgrace. Despite the Sidney’s Candy win, I believe that Caracortado and Interactif are still the most likely of the San Felipe starters to run well at Churchill Downs.

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Photo: Daniel Sample/Eclipse Sportswire

Joe Talamo celebrates a wire-to-wire winning performance by Sidney’s Candy in the San Felipe Stakes.

Photo: Cynthia Lum/Eclipse Sportswire

By Brian Zipse

Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs

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he Tampa Bay Derby was the most exciting race of the day, as the top three finished within a half a length of each other at the wire. After the close finish, most people assumed that Schoolyard Dreams had won, but instead it was the very promising colt Odysseus, who looked hopelessly beaten on the turn – as pointed out by the track announcer – but came on again for a miraculous victory over Schoolyard Dreams by a headbobbing nose. Race favorite Super Saver set the pace and stayed on well to be third, beaten by half a length. For Odysseus it was sweet success in his first stakes try. The win, and his resiliency, point him out as a horse getting good


ke for a wild Saturday

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horoughbred racing owners, trainers and jockeys have now entered their own form of March Madness with hopes and dreams of Kentucky Derby glory. The 2010 edition is beginning to take shape, and a trio of Derby preps run last weekend have placed a greater focus on the big race. March 13’s three major derby preps – the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita – answered many questions but raised several new ones.

Rebel Stakes Oaklawn Park

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n the Rebel, juvenile champion Lookin at Lucky came back better than ever. He was badly bothered on the backstretch, giving him little chance to come back and win the race. Little chance, that is, before he uncoiled a sustained and impressive rally to get up over the classy Noble’s Promise under the shadow of the wire. It was Lucky’s first race on dirt and his first race with blinkers. Only a champion would have come back from that sort of trouble to win against the quality field. Noble’s Promise ran another huge race, but the big question of distance remains for this colt who is bred to be best at shorter distances. Meanwhile, D. Wayne Lukas’ best Derby threat in years, Dublin, made a premature move and hung in the stretch to finish third, and Arizonabred Uh Oh Bango could only muster a well-beaten fourth-place finish. Lookin at Lucky’s impressive run re-establishes him as the horse to beat for the Kentucky Derby, and he’ll have one more prep on his march to Louisville.

at the right time. Schoolyard Dreams might have suffered a heartbreaking loss, but the grandson of A.P. Indy is improving with every start and is now officially ready for prime time. Third-place finisher Super Saver made a strong return, and we can expect him to be more primed for his next race. I believe all three colts ran well, and each still has enough room for improvement to make some serious noise in the Triple Crown. Odysseus (right) fights through on the inside to nip Schoolyard Dreams by a nose in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Photo: Bob Maybeger/Eclipse Sportswire

Lookin’ At Lucky makes a successful 2010 debut in the Rebel Stakes as he runs down Noble’s Promise at the wire.

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Photo: Alex barkoff/eclipse sportswire

Focused on

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success When 9-year-old Anna Roberts first encountered the racing world, something just clicked. Turns out it was her mother.

A

By Scott Serio

nna Roberts’ career as a jockey might have started with her first mount last year, but the story of how she became a jockey started more than a decade before. That story, about a little girl’s journey from Belzoni, MS, to one of the top race meets in the country, is about personal determination as well as family pride. STRIDE MAGAZINE

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Photo: Alex barkoff/Eclipse sportswire

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Photo courtesy of lynn roberts

Photo: Alex barkoff/Eclipse sportswire

First steps As a little girl, Anna wasn’t very girly. She played with the boys and preferred stuffed horses to Barbies. Her parents didn’t own any real horses, but relatives and friends did. “I was a horse lover,” says Anna’s mother, Lynn Roberts. “I was always on a horse. It transferred down to Anna. She was very natural around them – no fear.” When the family moved to New Orleans, Lynn took her 9-year-old daughter to the Fair Grounds to hang out around the horses. It was there that Lynn Roberts is an assistant track photographer at the girl’s mild interest the Fair Grounds. was transformed into a lifelong ambition. “The first time I went to the track I saw Julie Krone,” says Anna. “It was then that I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a jockey.” But it wasn’t as if there was a handbook Above: Mother and daughter in the photo that gave directions room at the Fair Grounds. to 9-year-olds who wanted to be jockeys in Right: A 9-year-old Anna poses with her 1997. And, other than role model and inspiration, Julie Krone. Krone, there weren’t very many female role models for aspiring jockeys. But Anna and jumper show rings, her mother Many of the choices were colleges that kept her eye on the goal. Her next step did what many parents do: She took offered programs for jumping, dreswas riding lessons for her 11th birth- pictures of her daughter, document- sage and the like. This seemed the next day. She was hooked, but she knew ing the journey from childhood. Says logical step, but Anna approached it that hunters and jumpers could only Lynn, “I took tons of pictures of her with trepidation. “Some colleges had take her so far. Anna loved horses and growing up, but I was no good. If I showing,” says Anna, “but I really didn’t want to go to college – I wanted she was able to be with them on a reg- had any talent, it didn’t show.” But opportunity knocked for her to become a jockey.” ular basis, refining her skills, but the While Anna was searching for didream of becoming a jockey was still at Folsom. “A friend told me the track photographer, Lou Hodges, was look- rection, Lynn kept her focus. That foremost in her mind. Meanwhile, her mother was also ing for an assistant, and they thought focus paid off in the form of a magfeeling the pull of horses at the Fair I should try and do it,” she said. So nificent shot from the 2005 edition of Grounds. Lynn obtained her groom’s the self-proclaimed no-talent photog- the Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes. The license and ended up spending more rapher began learning the craft of race photo of a blanket finish, three across, photography as her daughter learned horses extended in a final lunge, won time around horses than Anna did. the prestigious Eclipse Media Award. The family moved to Franklinton, the craft of galloping thoroughbreds. Lynn once said in an interview that As it turned out, one of her photoLA, in 2003, which gave Anna access to the Folsom Thoroughbred Training graphs proved to be a key to Anna’s God set the image up for her, because she couldn’t have done it on her own. Center. There, while she learned to future. “It was a blessing,” she said. “I won gallop horses and move closer to fulthe Eclipse Award in my second year filling her dream, a door opened for Picture perfect Anna had begun looking for schools shooting. It is a testament to how good Lynn as well. When Anna competed in hunter where she could become a better rider. Lou is.” March 17, 2010


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The first time I went to the track I saw Julie Krone. It was then that I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a jockey. – Anna Roberts

With that, the cake decorator turned Eclipse Award-winning photographer set off for the awards ceremony. Her aspiring-jockey daughter accompanied her. It was there that Lynn and Anna ran into Chris McCarron. At the time of the meeting, McCarron’s vision of the North American Racing Academy had not fully taken shape. But the seed was planted, and it occurred to Anna that there might be another option beyond riding in shows and going to college: Maybe she could go to school and learn to do what she had dreamed about since she met Julie Krone at 9 years old. Anna applied, interviewed and was accepted into the inaugural class of McCarron’s riding academy in Lexington, KY. There were practical exercises and instruction. Top jockeys came in to offer inspiration and guidance to the class of fledgling riders. But, in the end, it was in the saddle where the most important learning was to be done. “More of the teaching is when you start riding,” Anna says. “Learning how to ride is more handson. You kind of have to figure it out yourself.” The experience at NARA lead to an “internship” exercising horses for trainer Al Stall Jr. The on-the-job training continued until Anna graduated from the academy in 2008. Then, on the verge of moving one step closer to realizing her dream, Anna lost one of her most avid supporters. One week after her gradu-

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Photo: Alex barkoff/Eclipse sportswire

Anna Roberts gets a leg up on her first mount on Code of Honour at the Fair Grounds.

ation, Anna’s father, Brady, died of leukemia. Suddenly, a parent who supported her decisions and backed her with pride was gone. Brady Roberts, a man who had never been hospitalized, was diagnosed with cancer on April 23, 2008, and lost his battle on May 24. Mother and daughter found consolation in the place where they had already found personal satisfaction: the Fair Grounds. Ever since the family had moved to New Orleans in 1997, the charming racetrack bordered by St. Louis Cemetery #3, which pushes up against City Park, had been a home away from home. Lynn had groomed horses on the backstretch before becoming an assistant track photogra-

March 17, 2010

pher. Anna had grown up feeding mints to the horses stabled at the track. Still mourning the loss of her father, Anna moved forward. She worked with Stall and continued to move closer to her first mount. She galloped horses at Keeneland and then Saratoga, only to return to the Fair Grounds for the 2008-2009 meet. She had her jockey’s license at this point, but had yet to ride in a race. In her own estimation, she didn’t feel she was quite ready. She remained with Stall and continued to work horses for him. Realizing a dream Then, on March 12, 2009, a horse Anna had exercised for Stall was run-


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March 17, 2010

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Photo: Lynn roberts

ning in the sixth race. It was a busy two meets for journeyman riders, but I days before the Louisiana Derby, and wanted to try it. I wanted to stick it Anna was helping her mother (pho- out.” Anna insists her decision wasn’t tographer Lou Hodges was unable to work). Already at the track, Anna just a matter of wanting to keep close to home. “I just really love this track. went to the paddock to visit Stall. While she was in the paddock, an It isn’t like I am staying at home – my announcement came from the pub- mom is an hour and a half away.” But lic address system, and it was clear a then she acknowledges: “The track is jockey would be needed for the sev- really home to me. I love it.” enth race. Stall turned to Anna and said, “You should go try and pick up Mother and daughter Anna does get to see her mom althat mount – you can get it.” After a brief visit with the clerk, most every day, even though they Anna Roberts was given the mount on Code of Honour. As word of the news spread, the apron started to fill. Photographers from out of town scrambled to get photos of the race. Lynn was busy handling her duties as track photographer, but her fellow shooters helped out. Jockeys crowded around to watch the race as well. The president of the Fair Grounds, noticing the commotion, wondered if he was missing the Louisiana Derby. He was assured that he wasn’t missing anything – except Anna Roberts’ first mount. Code of Honour led for a good part of the race, but faded to finish seventh. When she came off the track, Anna was met by her mother. They were there together, a dream realized. Anna Roberts has recordAnna Roberts grins after a muddy finish in a race at ed 25 winners to date. Her Evangeline Downs. rode her first winner in her fourth mount, aboard King of Mardi Gras at Louisiana Downs. She had a solid meet in might not get to sit down and talk. Shreveport and faced the choice of And Lynn and Anna share a profesfinding the best track to further her sional relationship most parents and riding career. She chose to pick up her children never experience. Usually, when a child grows up tack and return to New Orleans, deand makes it to a professional sportspite the tight competition. “It is tough to get mounts here,” she ing stage, the parents must be content admits. “Honestly, I had agents call- to watch their children on TV or from ing me to go to New York. But I kind the stands. Not so for Lynn Roberts. of grew up here. It is kind of my home She stays so close to the action, she can feel the ground rumble as her daughtrack. “It is really tough, the toughest of ter rides by.

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As to the question of whether to cheer or take photos, Lynn says, “It’s hard. Part of me is thinking ‘Get the shot!’ (the photographer in me), but occasionally I will yell and cheer her on while shooting the picture.” She adds, “Really, I am just thinking I am proud of her, and how proud her daddy would be.” Last fall, the photographer-versusmother conflict rose to a new level. “I was shooting on the turn, waiting for horses to clear the rail so I could shoot. Anna was coming around the outside, about to pass,” says Lynn. “But the horse that was in the lead bolted, and they clipped heels. Anna’s horse stumbled and fell.” “I tried to shoot, but I just couldn’t. I ran out to her,” says Lynn. “It was a lot further than I thought it was. By the time I got there, she was standing up, she was looking for her whip, and she was really mad because she thought she was going to win.” Anna confirms the account. “If anything, I was more mad than hurt. My horse was cruising. I was going to win.” But Mom has the last word on the matter: “It is not an experience I want to go through again.” Anna Roberts’ resilience is obvious. She is focused on becoming a successful race rider. Her inspiration was Julie Krone, but for girls who might look to Anna for that spark, she offer this advice: “Work very hard and stick to it. Don’t give up, because it is hard. Get some thick skin. It is very tough and you might hear some things you don’t want to hear, but if you want it, you really have to stick with it and keep pushing.” But for now, Anna admits, it doesn’t hurt being at home at the Fair Grounds. “Almost all of the jockeys here have seen me grow up. They have seen me since I was 9 or 10 years old. They all really try to help and support me.” h


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Photo: Alex barkoff/Eclipse sportswire


On the Tarmac Travel Tips; Things to See and Do

hot springs, AR Little Rock Airport – Adams Field is a three-

The Apple Blossom Invitational Web site – The city of Hot Springs has worked hard to get

runway facility with a whopping 12 gates. It handles about 150 flights daily. Vehicle rentals are available from most major companies, and the rates are reasonable (Enterprise offers a fullsize rental, Thursday-Sunday, for $91 total).

visitors as much information as possible. Here’s where you can find the fruit of their efforts: www.appleblossominvitational.com.

r tsw ips e spo

ir e

Ladies Night at the Oaklawn Casino – The casino side of the Oaklawn facility hosts

e cl m pl e /

a ladies’ free-entry $600 Poker Tournament at 7 p.m. Also included for the women is a $7.77 buffet special at Lagniappe’s and 77-cent daiquiris and margaritas.

P h oto

ie : da n

l sa

Garvan Woodland Gardens, 550 Arkridge Road. 800-366-4664 – This 210-acre

e Row s u o h B ath

botanical garden is located on Lake Hamilton. It will also be the scene of several festival events.

Colton’s Steakhouse, 120 Crawford St. 501-623-2110 – Colton’s ranks at the top of places to go in Hot Springs for a rib eye or porterhouse.

Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway – Expore Arkansas’ natural beauty with a drive on the state’s first designated scenic byway, which runs through Hot Springs. Head north, passing through Ouachita National Forest, ending in Russellville.

Bathhouse Row – The eight bathhouses of Hot Springs that run along Central Avenue have been designated a National Historic Landmark. What you see now are third- and fourthgeneration facilities, but the healing powers of the “Valley of the Vapors” have been known for more than 8,000 years.

Rod’s Pizza Cellar, 3350 Central Ave. 501-624-7637 – The best pizza in Hot Springs, hands down, is found at Rod’s.

city’s notorious past can still be heard inside this museum, which features old roulette tables, vintage slot machines, exhibits on gangsters Al Capone and Owney “the Killer” Madden, gangsters’ weapons and a documentary film, which is shown in the museum’s theater.

Arkansas Jazz Experience, 413 Central Ave. 501-767-0210 – After the big race, consider winding down at this event at the Quapaw Bath House and Spa. A live music jam starts at 7:30. Cash bar available. $10 admission.

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Ph oto : david sim mo ns

Gangster Museum of America, 113 Central Ave. 501-318-1717 – Echoes of the

Garvan Woodland Gar dens


http://attheraceswithstevebyk.com

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Photo: daniel sample/eclipse sportswire

Colonial Pancake House owner Rick Gale says he is ready for the crowds coming to Hot Springs.

Feeding the multitude Hot Springs is gearing up to host tens of thousands of visitors next month. Here are some places that should be up to the task By Scott Serio

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veryone knows the hottest spot in Hot Springs on April 9 will be Oaklawn Park. But with 70,000 invaders descending upon the city to see the undefeated Zenyatta, that heat isn’t going to disappear overnight – and neither will the crowds. On the morning after, those invaders and their Arkansan hosts will congregate to eat, to talk about Zenyatta and ponder what might have been if Rachel Alexandra had raced. The crowds – and the lines – will be breathtaking. But Hot Springs is working hard to make sure that restaurants, bars, hotels and attractions can handle the unprecedented influx of visitors. The restaurants especially are bracing themselves, extending their hours and making arrangements to survive the onslaught.

March 17, 2010

One Hot Springs landmark, the 60seat Colonial Pancake House, will be a likely destination for many of those 70,000, and owner Rick Gale says the family-run breakfast destination has emergency plans in place. The restaurant makes everything from scratch (the results garner rave reviews), and the Colonial will have an extra truck of supplies on the premises throughout the weekend to feed demand. By all accounts from locals and from every Internet source, they’re going to need it. For dinner, the options open up a little more. Several chain restaurants dot the landscape, but why not partake in something a little more local and a whole lot more tasty? And you can’t get more Arkansas than barbecue and catfish. Grampa’s Catfish House on Air-


Photo: bill meador

un-Arkansas. By offering port Road is a spinoff of entrees like coconut red curthe popular original North ried chicken and Hawaiian Little Rock establishment of ribeye, Fusion distinguishes the same name. The $13.99 itself as a place to get some“All-U-Can-Eat” catfish platthing a little different. ter, with fries and slaw, is a No matter where you end ridiculously good deal for up eating, the people will be some very good food. friendly. Hot Springs is kind Then there is the barbeof a cross between Saratoga cue. Arkansans take barand Radiator Springs. There becue about as seriously as is nothing fast-paced about they take their former presiit. Even with a gaggle Zedents – which, by the way, nyatta gawkers, it will still is a topic of conversation to maintain its small-town avoid in Hot Springs if you feel. It’s a pleasant place happen not to be a Bill Clinthat boasts more bathhouston fan. You might get away Hot Springs natives know that McClard’s barbecue is es built around hot springs with telling someone that “Best in Breed.” than it does movie houses. their alligator farm was a ripoff, but if you make an off comment Best in BBQ Breed is McClard’s. It has It’s clean, and it’s charming. And you have to feel respect when about Ol’ Bill, you might get punched been around about as long as the Colonial, and its barbecue is held in as high a whole town opens its doors and in the mouth. its arms to interlopers from all over But back to the barbecue. In the regard as the Colonial’s pancakes. The wildcard in the culinary equa- the world. The Racing Festival of the stock market world they refer to the best company for a certain area as tion has nothing to do with barbe- South will be a great weekend, sur“Best in Breed.” No matter what your cue, or catfish, or steak, or breakfast. rounded by great food, great hospitalresearch might tell you about some A hidden gem that people agreed to ity and great thoroughbred racing. Just remember to be patient while hot new barbecue place, stick with the reveal to Stride Magazine is Central favorite for Hot Springs natives. Their Park Fusion. Their menu is decidedly standing in line. h

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Voice The

of

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By Ryan Patterson

here isn’t much that Terry Wallace hasn’t seen after 36 years in the booth as the track announcer at Oaklawn Park. The Ohio native has called every race at Oaklawn since 1975. He has been called “the Most Recognizable Voice in Arkansas” and has had the privilege of calling horses such as Smarty Jones, Lady’s Secret, Cigar, and Azeri. It is possible that the best horse he will ever call will be Zenyatta in this year’s edition of the Apple Blossom Handicap. Humble beginnings Wallace got his start in the thoroughbred racing industry working in the parking lot and running for the press box at River Downs in Cincinnati, OH, while he was a student at nearby Xavier University. At River Downs, he met track announcer Jim Hines. Wallace enjoyed Hines’ calls and learned the craft by listening to him. After returning from studying in France, Wallace recorded a race in French and played the tape for Hines. The veteran race caller suggested that his young friend give it a try in English. “I got positive responses to my race

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calls, so I decided to give it a shot as a career. At the time I was working as a teacher at McNicholas High School in Cincinnati. It was a gamble, but I decided to take a job as the track announcer at Latonia Park [now known as Turfway Park]. Luckily, the gamble paid off and led to a successful career in the thoroughbred racing industry.” The rest, as they say, is history. Wallace is now a jack of all trades at Oaklawn. He serves as director of media relations, simulcast host and as a member of the senior management team, in addition to his duties as track announcer. Oaklawn has changed greatly since

March 17, 2010

Photo: daniel sample/eclipse sportswire

Oaklawn

Crediting his experience cramming for exams a

Wallace arrived in 1975. At the time, the track was small, though flourishing; handle and attendance were on the rise. In 1983, Oaklawn handled just over $3 million in wagers per day on average. After years of expansion and success, the track suffered growing pains in the 1980s, but the addition of “instant racing” and an on-track casino helped bolster revenues. The money coming in from the casino enabled the track to boost purses – owner Charles Cella was able to increase the purse of the Arkansas Derby to $1 million in 2004. As Oaklawn matured, so did Wallace. The decades that he has spent


as a student at Xavier University, Terry Wallace can memorize the names of a field of horses just minutes before a race.

calling races have honed his skills, but he’s also benefited from his natural abilities. For instance, he says, “learning to memorize the names came easy for me. I was very good at cramming for exams in college, and the techniques are very similar. My days at Xavier University taught me that I had to learn – and fast. Doing so has paid dividends when calling races.” But there are still challenges. He says the hardest part of calling a race is when the horses break from the starting gate. He calls it “the Moment of Truth.” “You learn the names of the horses in numerical order, but they break in

different directions. After the start it gets easier,” he says. Wallace’s work has brought him into contact with many interesting personalities. He said he’s met Bill Clinton a number of times. (Virginia Clinton Kelley, President Clinton’s mother, was a big fan of Oaklawn Park and a regular visitor to the track.) He said the 42nd president is unpretentious, and adds that Clinton remembers your name after the first time he meets you. That’s something even Wallace finds impressive, even though he can memorize the names of a field of horses just minutes before a race. Wallace also brings a unique per-

spective to racing. He says that, while most people think the end of the meet is the best part, he enjoys the beginning the most. “The start of the meet is always enjoyable because I’ve gone so many months without calling races. At the beginning I have so much to look forward to, such as the Apple Blossom and the Arkansas Derby. I know the next few months are going to be a blast at the start of the meet. I hate the end of the meet because the fun is over.” Career highlights During his career, Wallace has had the honor of calling some stellar race-

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Photo: daniel sample/eclipse sportswire

horses. “I called Cigar when he won the Oaklawn Handicap in 1995,” he says. That was the sixth win in the streak of 16 for Cigar. The colt earned his highest career Beyer Speed Figure of 121 in the Oaklawn Handicap. Wallace has also called races for the great fillies Azeri and Lady’s Secret, but he says the best horse he has ever called was Smarty Jones. “Everyone loved Smarty Jones. I called his Arkansas Derby in 2004. He was a very tough horse,” Wallace says. Smarty Jones would go on to take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before falling short in the Belmont Stakes. When he’s not calling races, Wallace is active in the fight against cancer. He regularly volunteers for the American Cancer Society. “My sister is a breast cancer survivor, and I lost my father to lung cancer. Doing all that I can to fight cancer is very important to me.” For the past 10 years, Wallace has been chairman of his local Relay for Life, which raises money for cancer research.

Terry Wallace says the best horse he has ever called was Smarty Jones.

He also keeps up with his alma mater’s basketball team, the Xavier Musketeers. “I hated to see Xavier give up football,” he laments, “but they’ve been a consistent power in basketball.” On April 9, Terry Wallace will add another chapter to his storied racecalling career. Despite the defection

of Rachel Alexandra from this year’s Apple Blossom, Zenyatta will be there in an attempt to tie the great Cigar’s 16 for 16 record. Wallace’s voice will serve as the official narration of what is possibly one of the greatest moments in racing. Can there be a better man for the job? h

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The paddock at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, FL.

Old traditions meet the New Gulfstream By Stewart Winograd Photos by Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire

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he idea of hopping on a plane and heading out to take in a big day of horse racing puts a buzz into the head and heart any fan. Add in the bonus that you would be leaving the frozen tundra of Nebraska for Florida and an event that is appealing enough in its name, The Sunshine Millions, and visions of palm

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trees and Pick 6’s should dance in your head. Unfortunately, this was never meant to be such a journey. For as long as I can remember, my father and I were connected through horse racing. I am almost a horse handicapper by trade. My father was never really a great handicapper, but he certainly was a shrewd gambler and he taught me well.

March 17, 2010

Somehow, after my father was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and given a year to live, our connection to horse racing further strengthened our bond. He was always interested in my picks. And because he lived in Florida, I would always make an effort to handicap Calder or Gulfstream and call him with my picks. Then I would add I was play-


ing a little bit extra on my picks for him. It gave him something to root for and something to look forward to in the next day’s newspaper. On Memorial Day of last year, my father finally lost his fight with cancer. It was with this backdrop that I landed in Florida. The main purpose of my trip was to visit my mother and to take care of other personal and business connections. My attendance at Gulfstream was planned, for sure. The idea of honoring my father wasn’t present when the plane hit the tarmac, but the feeling grew – especially after my failed attempt at getting my mother to come with me to the track. If nothing else, he was certainly “present” with me on the visit. It’s hard to be objective about a day at the racetrack when both my best bet of the year won at 10-1 and the excitement of that win was tempered by a $34,000 photo finish lost by a nose. I got off I-95 and drove the mile or two toward the ocean through typically heavy traffic on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, past gas stations and fast food joints, some open, some boarded up. Not far from the track is Nick’s, an oldschool diner with waitresses who have been there for decades and call everyone “hon.” A good place to grab a bite. As you drive in to Gulfstream proper, the first thing you see are new dormitories for the grooms, not opulent but far newer and nicer than the living quarters at most racetracks. Since track owner Frank Stronach seems to have declared war on the middle class, this is a nice touch. There are no gates to Gulfstream, no admission booths or turnstiles, just open access to the free areas. There are also no seats. Stronach in his infinite wisdom decided that people come to the racetrack to shop, or schmooze, or listen to

music, or eat, or gamble, but not to watch a horse race. There are as many seats facing the walking ring as there are facing the track. There are restaurant tables in a glass-enclosed section with a decent view of the track, and there are four rows of stadium seats, mostly empty, facing the track below and in front of the restaurant. I remember the first time I went to the new Gulfstream with my dad and stepmom, Fountain of Youth day a couple years back. The outside seats were virtually empty. I asked an usher how much the seats were, thinking that I would pay the $10 and get us seats. “Today the seats are $50 each,” the usher said. We found some lawn chairs about a furlong away on the clubhouse turn and dragged them back to the finish line instead. I have not inquired about the outside seats since, although there is now a sign that says the seats are free on weekdays. But so much of racing and life involves playing the hand you’re dealt, so I have found my comfort spot at the new Gulfstream, which is near a thatch-roof open-air hut up the stretch from the main body of the track. There is a bar, plenty of simulcast TVs, and both real-live tellers and automated betting machines. I prefer betting with a live teller if I find one that is competent because it is easier for me to call out the numbers and watch her fingers hit the keypad than it is for me to look constantly back and forth between my bet sheet and the touch screen. At Gulfstream, though, any bet of a denomination less than a dollar, e.g. a 10 cent superfecta box, must be made on an automated machine. So I usually get a voucher and have some flexibility. The thatched hut area has some of the leftover painted plaques with

names of Florida Derby winners, jockeys and owners past – Judger in 1974 comes to mind (not a strong crop of 3-year-olds, save Little Current). There are little bar tables with wicker seats that remind me of my high chair as a child, as well as picnic tables in the sun. It’s not too far to the rail, and I have become a railbird. A guy near the hut was playing the guitar in between races and

asking horse racing trivia questions covering famous horses and races of the past four decades. I think he said he was a former handicapper for a New York newspaper. Last year I won a Gulfstream calendar answering a question (Exceller). This year I was busy betting and did not get to answer a trivia question – truth be told I did not know the answers to the questions – but even so a Gulfstream employee came by handing out calendars before the last race. As a young adult wannabe professional gambler I liked sitting in stands with excellent binoculars so I could see as much of the race as possible. But now that my horse racing diet is 99% simulcasting or online, I want to get as close to the horses and the race as possible when I do get to the track.

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Of course, Gulfstream aided this choice by limiting the alternatives. Watching a simulcast from Tampa Bay, the five horse had the lead down the backstretch and the nine, a longshot, was pressing with the rest of the field several lengths back. One of the fans apparently had the five-nine exacta box and was rooting it home all the way around the far turn, calling it “nine to five, the working man’s numbers, nine to five. Come on, working man.” Alas, the nine got caught at the wire. The working man got hosed again.

race, It’s Not For Love had everything I look for in a turf front-runner. According to my disarmingly simple yet proprietary method, It’s Not For Love displayed consistently good turf speed in losing efforts last summer in New Jersey, facing allowance horses several cuts above the competition that the rest of Saturday’s field had been facing. There were no other early speed horses of note in Saturday’s race, but losing efforts after a wide trip last time and a misspotted short sprint the previous race, had darkened her

Maybe I noticed because I am an escapee from a bitterly cold and snowy Nebraska winter, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a woman in heels in Nebraska. Not so the shoe board at Gulfstream, which had women wearing high heels all over the place, both in the fancy restaurant and with the unwashed under the thatched roof. Even the Budweiser girls, who I would have pegged for flip-flops, wore heels. How I got to this point is a long story, but suffice to say that my handicapping specialty is frontrunners on the turf. In the fourth

form to the point that she was 15-1 in the morning line. I made her 5-2, and told my circle of handicappers that she was my best bet of the year so far. It was cloudy and windy on Saturday with scattered showers forecast. There was no evidence from her form that It’s Not For Love could even stand up in the mud, which was confirmed by my paddock companion pointing out that she had a broad foot suited for the lawn. I deferred to his opinion, as my knowledge of what race horses should look like is limited to seeing four legs, no temper tantrums,

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and from a contrary perspective, viewing sweat as a positive sign. (Michael Jordan sweated when he played basketball. Benoit Benjamin did not.) The rains held off and the race stayed on the grass. The fourth race itself had little drama until midstretch. It’s Not For Love was faster and better than that field, and led by four lengths turning for home with nobody coming. But in midstretch she brushed the rail once or twice and appeared to try to jump in response. Jockey Paco Lopez, who despite his 3 for 71 record at the meet had ridden her competently several times in New Jersey, managed to stay on board and It’s Not For Love stayed clear to the wire, paying $23.80 to win. Yay! The third race had been a wide open maiden claiming race on the turf. I was not close to having a selection in the race and would not have given it a second thought other than its proximity to the fourth race, so I went through the third race again and narrowed it down to five contenders. One of them, Dreamed to Dream, wandered home in front at the ridiculous price of 80-1. After It’s Not For Love won, I was alive to five horses in the Bet 3 (called a Pick 3 everywhere else except Florida). The smallest payoff was $8,000. The largest payoff was $34,000. Yikes! I had thought the fifth race, a five-furlong turf dash, was full of early speed types so my five contenders that I was alive to were the horses I considered to be the five best closers. After thinking about it for less than a minute I decided that a hedge was appropriate. Since it was a short sprint, the most likely winners that I didn’t have would be the front-runners, rather than the inferior closers I had not used. I decided that if none of my five horses ran well I didn’t have anything to hedge, so I wanted to pro-


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Upcoming Graded Stakes Races DATE

GRD TRACK

DISTANCE

Mar 20 Honeybee S.

III

Oaklawn Park

8.5 Furlongs

Mar 20 Santa Margarita H.

I

Santa Anita Park

9 Furlongs

Mar 20 San Felipe S.

II

Santa Anita Park

8.5 Furlongs

Mar 20 Inside Information S.

II

Gulfstream

7 Furlongs

Mar 20 Florida Derby

I

Gulfstream

9 Furlongs

Mar 20 Bonnie Miss S.

II

Gulfstream

9 Furlongs

Mar 20 Rampart S.

III

Gulfstream

9 Furlongs

Mar 20 Swale S.

II

Gulfstream

7 Furlongs

Mar 20 Appleton S.

III

Gulfstream

7.5 Furlongs

Mar 27 San Luis Rey H.

II

Santa Anita Park

12 Furlongs (T)

Mar 27 Santa Ana H.

II

Santa Anita Park

9 Furlongs (T)

Mar 27 Fair Grounds Oaks

II

Fair Grounds

8.5 Furlongs

Mar 27 Pan American S.

III

Gulfstream

12 Furlongs (T)

Mar 27 Lane’s End S.

II

Turfway Park

9 Furlongs

Mar 27 Louisiana Derby

II

Fair Grounds

9 Furlongs

Mar 27 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. H.

II

Fair Grounds

9 Furlongs (T)

Mar 28 New Orleans H.

II

Fair Grounds

9 Furlongs

Mar 28 Tokyo City H.

III

Santa Anita Park

12 Furlongs

Mar 28 Orchid S.

III

Gulfstream

12 Furlongs (T)

Mar 28 Sunland Derby

III

Sunland Park

9 Furlongs

Mar 28 Santa Paula S.

III

Santa Anita Park

6.5 Furlongs

Apr 02

Fantasy S.

II

Oaklawn Park

8.5 Furlongs

Apr 03

Skip Away S.

III

Gulfstream

9.5 Furlongs

Apr 03

Central Bank Ashland S.

I

Keeneland

8.5 Furlongs

Apr 03

Carter H.

I

Aqueduct

7 Furlongs

Apr 03

Bay Shore S.

III

Aqueduct

7 Furlongs

Apr 03

Excelsior H.

III

Aqueduct

9 Furlongs

Apr 03

Wood Memorial

I

Aqueduct

9 Furlongs

Apr 03

Santa Anita Park Derby

I

Santa Anita Park

9 Furlongs

Apr 03

Apple Blossom H.

I

Oaklawn Park

8.5 Furlongs

Apr 03

Oaklawn H.

II

Oaklawn Park

9 Furlongs

Apr 03

Providencia S.

II

Santa Anita Park

9 Furlongs (T)

Apr 03

Potrero Grande H.

II

Santa Anita Park

6.5 Furlongs

Apr 03

Arcadia H.

II

Santa Anita Park

1 Mile (T)

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tect against a second-place finish. I bet three of the front-runners on top in the exacta to my five horses in second. Chihulykee, one of my closers (the $34,000 one at that) came storming down the lane and reached the wire together with front-runner Hollywood Left. Watching the race from the 1/16th pole I thought Chihulykee had won by a nose, but on the slo-mo replay he appeared to have lost by a nose, and unfortunately for me that was the result. There are big noses and little noses and this was a little nose. I did collect $2,500 on my exacta hedge, which along with the win bet on It’s Not For Love made for a great day of racing, but I was still left with the elusive feel of what might have been. Remarkably, the thing that struck me was not the miss by a nose when I managed to hook up an 82-1 shot, a 10-1 shot and a 39-1 shot in a Bet 3. I hadn’t anticipated this before, but I now that my father is gone I was still betting an extra $5 to win on horses for him, and a $1 exacta box with the two favorites. He also liked tying up the same jockey in the double so if my selection is in the first two or last two races and that jockey has a mount in the other race, I get that double for him. I guess I wound up paying tribute to my father anyway. The rest of the day was a blur – the good races on the card looked like they belonged to the favorites so there was not much of betting interest. I chilled with a Heineken, bet very lightly, and got in another big traffic jam leaving the track and mixing with the beach crowd headed back to I-95. Missing the Bet 3 is awkward, because it is a Pick 3. Framed by the purpose of the rest of my trip, it did make what would usually have been a successful day a little bit more gray. Maybe the Pick 3 miss stung a little more than usual. You have to endure getting nosed out for big hits if you bet horses long enough. Long after I got back on the plane, the unintended and unexpected tribute to my father will remain – an extra $5 to win and an extra $1 exacta box, thank you. h


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Photo: alex Barkoff/eclipse sportwire

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f u ll stri d e

Not today, Rachel

Zardana, left, pink cap, looms boldly at the top of the stretch to overtake Rachel Alexandra, to her right, yellow cap, in the first running of the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds on Saturday, March 13, in New Orleans.

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2010 Kentucky Derby Power R ankings Presented by HorseRacingNation.com

The Kentucky Derby Power Rankings are based on fan rankings at the HorseRacingNation.com Web site. To learn more about these rankings and every Derby prospect, click on this page to go directly to HorseRacingNation.com.

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A tasteful tour of the Big Easy From fine cuisine to Bourbon Street bars, Robby Albarado knows his way around New Orleans’ restaurant scene

Jockey Robby Albarado has more than 4,000 wins and was the recipient of the 2004 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

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W By Michelle Yu

hen he was 10 years to the bayou is enjoying family and old, Robby Albarado food. He and his wife, Kimber, and knew what he was des- their children Kash, Kaden and Lartined to be. He grew kin can usually be seen several times up in Lafayette, LA, about an hour a meet at certain spots. Their favorite place to grab a bite outside of New Orleans, and used to visit the horse farms down the street. in the Big Easy? “Drago’s,” he afBut it wasn’t just horses and hayfields firms. “They do these charbroiled he was interested in – it was the bush oysters. Not only is that my favorite races, unsanctioned head-to-head joint, that’s my favorite food. Anyraces, with or without saddles, no time someone comes to visit or asks me where they should go to eat – I helmets, no vests. “I mean, if your horse didn’t stop, mean there are hundreds of places to you jumped off,” says Albarado in eat – I send them to Drago’s.” Family-owned and operated since the drawling Creole accent the Cajun boys are known for. His idols were the doors opened in 1969, Drago’s has that familylegendary bayou run feel. It’s kind boys: Randy Romeof run-down, but ro and Eddie Delaclean. It’s crowded houssaye. “They and loud but still paved the way for manages to feel guys like me and very intimate. The Calvin [Borel],” he menu is extensive remembers. By the at Drago’s, but time he was 12, people go for the Robby was riding oysters, which are in those bush races, caught fresh by and he was hooked. the same family “I won some of those of fishermen who races. Maybe a hunhave been bringdred or so.” ing in their oysters Twenty years since the beginlater Albarado is a ning. Even though heavy hitter in the there are two Drabusiness. A far cry from his bush track – Robby Albarado go’s in the vicinity, don’t expect to record, he has won get seated without more than 4,000 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Clas- a wait, and don’t try and go on Sunsic and the Dubai World Cup. The days – they’re closed. While you’re waiting for your table horses he gets on daily are no longer pasture nags or half-broken babies; at Drago’s, whether in the crowded they’re superstars and champions. main room or the upstairs dining He’s been the regular rider of Horses area, you’re sure to see a star or two of the Year Mineshaft and Curlin. waiting with you. “Everyone goes Topping out his bevy of riding titles there,” Robby says. “Jocks, trainers, are seven from the Fair Grounds, in agents, owners. You can see the Saints his native New Orleans. He is the and the Hornets there, too. When there’s a Hornets home game you can only jock to have that honor. Even though he calls Kentucky his see half the team eating in there!” If you’re thinking you’d like to go home base now, New Orleans will ala little fancier (think ‘no shorts always be “home.” “When I come back to New Or- lowed’), Robby recommends Comleans it’s fun. I have friends here, mander’s Palace, a Zagat favorite family, trainers that I’ve ridden for for housed in a bright-blue Victorian years that are still here. They know mansion in the Garden District. The menu boasts a souped-up version of me, support me – it’s … unique.” For Robby, part of coming back Louisiana favorites, and includes the

Anytime someone comes to visit or asks me where they should go to eat – I mean there are hundreds of places to eat – I send them to Drago’s.

Photo: alex barkoff/eclipse sportswire

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Photo: jonathan bachman

in Metairie, is a little sports bar. This hole in the wall is exactly what you picture when you hear the words “dive bar.” There’s a bar and two tables, but the only other place to belly up is at a seat in front of the Derby owners game. Beer is beer, and the bar food is what you expect, but this is the only place in New Orleans where you can “ride” against your favorite riders. There’s always someone from the track, in a hat, a little incognito, playing horse racing video games. Come to New Orleans for the races, then make your own horse and beat out the meet-leading rider in a virtual battle. Drago’s is the restaurant of choice for many racing insiders and local sports stars. Drago’s is I don’t know anywhere else famous for its charbroiled oysters – a favorite of Robby Albarado’s. you can do that. While the Albarados are gracious oyster and absinthe “dome,” foie gras hosts, if you haven’t wrangled an in“du monde,” turtle soup, and pecanvite, Robby says try your luck at the crusted gulf fish. If they’re available, Hotel Monteleone. This charming hotry the “milk and cookies,” which are tel is a member of the Historic Hotels beignet-battered Oreos (go big or go of America and is fully engrossed in home, right?). Commander’s Palace its past. From the black-tailed dooris also a brunch place for the history men to the marble floors and chanbooks, so if you’re in the neighbordeliers in the lobby, you will feel like hood take a meander through the unique streets that make up the Gar– Robby Albarado you’ve stepped into the French Quarter of the 1800s – complete with highden District and pop in for a meal that speed Internet. is sure to be remembered. of riding, family and overseeing the And a final word: If you only do Rounding out Robby’s Top Three hot spots is GW Fins. “It’s a newer Robby Albarado Foundation, Robby one thing in New Orleans, Robby inplace, but the food is great,” Albarado has little time left over for an insane sists, “Get down to the French Quarpromises. With a city so steeped in nightlife. He does have some favorite ter, rent a mule and carriage, and hear them tell you the history of New Ortradition, it’s not easy to be the new haunts, however. “I like to stick to my own path leans.” Before Katrina, “most people kid on the block, but GW’s pulls it off well. Located in the French Quarter, when I go out at nights. You can go to took New Orleans for granted. I know GW Fins is not your typical Quarter the Quarter. There’s got to be a thou- myself I did,” he says. “I didn’t apdive restaurant. It’s upscale, clean sand bars there. I like the House of preciate the city, the history, until we and well-lit. The bar is smaller but not Blues – the Foundation Room.” Rob- were under sea level.” Now the city has a more contemlacking for anything, and the crowd is by says that on any given night you a good mix of Bourbon Street tourists can see jocks or backstretch workers porary feel to it, with so many new and racetrack winners, all looking for roaming the streets of New Orleans. homes and new neighborhoods, but The younger riders gravitate towards stepping into a beast-drawn buggy a good meal. Like the name suggests, the menu the Quarter and the older generation has nostalgia written all over it. The tours vary in length and price, but you is seafood-heavy, but you can always more towards Metairie. “The good thing about the Quarter: won’t get a better insight into NOLA find a nice cut of meat on the list. It doesn’t matter where you go. It’s all or learn more about the city than you GW Fins prides itself on freshness fun.” (This writers favorite? The Bourwill from a buggy driver. and prints its menus daily according New Orleans in a nutshell? Come to what is at its seasonal peak. (And bon Cowboy.) Robby does have one off-the-beat- for the racing, take in some history, a word of advice: “Save room for the en-path recommendation: Dana’s. and grab a bite. It’s what a trip to the biscuits.”) Between the stakes-laden weekends A few miles away from downtown, Fair Grounds is all about. h

The good thing about the Quarter: It doesn’t matter where you go. It’s all fun.

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Linea ge

It Runs in the Family Lacey Gaudet succumbs to the lure of the racetrack By Lacey Gaudet

Part Two of Two

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PhoTO : courtesy Lacey gaudet

G

rowing up in the horse industry, my original dream had been to become a jockey. As I grew older, I realized this dream was slightly out of reach, so I decided to aim for the next best alternative and I became an amateur jockey at the age of 17. An amateur jockey follows the same procedures as a professional jockey, except the racing weights are higher. In America the weights are rare and consist of a few races at various racetracks over the summer. Amateur riders are not allowed to be paid or collect money from race purses or they would become professional jockeys and lose their amateur status. Race riding is a unique experience, and I’ll never forget my first race at Delaware Park, settling into the first post position in the starting gate and looking out onto the bare turf course and the grandstand along the stretch run. Feeling the energy of a racehorse as it speeds along at 35 mph you while you balance your weight on tiny stirrups attached to a feather light saddle is unparalleled. Jockeys are by far among the most underrated athletes. Not many other sports have an ambulance standing by whenever the athletes compete. When I was 18, I completed a barn test and a three-hour written exam and passed my trainer’s test. That summer, I took a division of my parents’ stable to a month-and-a-halflong meet at Colonial Downs in Virginia. I took the next step toward my life goal that summer and ran horses in my name as trainer for the first time. With help from my parents, I ran a 12-horse stable. On July 9, 2007, I saddled my first winner, a horse by the name of Becauseilikeit, with my own name as trainer in the program. With smiles from ear to ear, my younger sister and I posed in the winners’ circle with our proud parents watching from simulcast back home

Feeling the energy of a racehorse as it speeds along at 35 mph you while you balance your weight on tiny stirrups attached to a feather-light saddle is unparalleled.


lin eage

in Maryland. That day, and the rest of that summer, set in stone my love for this sport. I knew I would dedicate my life to the racehorse. As I grew older, I knew that to become a successful trainer I had to build my resume and work for other trainers. I pursued jobs around the country, but I settled on a warm winter at Gulfstream Park for trainer Helen Pitts and a glorious summer at the premiere meet at Saratoga in upstate New York for trainer Allen Iwinski. My winter with the Pitts stable was my first time away from home not working for my family. I galloped horses and helped prepare them on race day. I learned many different views on training. One of the best parts of that winter was being fortunate enough to be around a horse named Einstein. He was a massive, black Brazil-

ian breed colt who was predominantly a turf horse. Einstein was the smartest, most elegant horse I have ever had the pleasure to be around. After that winter, he won races on dirt and synthetic surfaces and was nominated for the older male Eclipse Award. That following summer, I became assistant trainer to Allen Iwinski at one of the most famous, historic race meetings in the world. Anyone who loves horses or horse racing should visit Saratoga Race Course. The town itself is dedicated to the racehorse. Nearly every cafĂŠ and restaurant has menu items named after famous horses or trainers. My job for Iwinski was intense, with long hours and hard work. He was hard on me and expected a lot but I loved every minute. I give him full credit for instilling my habits of working hard, being

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able to hold the toughest horses, and learning how to speak Spanish. On the last Friday of the meet, I saddled a beautiful gray gelding to our first and only victory. Although it was the only winner, I’ll never forget how rewarding it felt to walk into that winners’ circle alongside Stormy Mirage and greet his happy trainer and owner. Though my travels have not all been happy days, I would never trade them for an afternoon in a college classroom or behind an office desk. I am blessed to have spent time with these successful trainers and powerful horses. With the knowledge from my travels, I hope to discover my own winning training methods and return with my own stable of horses. I plan to be like Helen Pitts and Allen Iwinski, and someday become as legendary as my idols. h

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No One Said It Would Be Easy Uptowncharlybrown on the Kentucky Derby Trail

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