I love mornings at the track, the chance to see all the potential of what may be. There is a quiet too, a more serene atmosphere in most cases, than found in afternoons at the track. Yet the excitement of race day is not missing, particularly in Derby week at Churchill. There is the anticipation of awaiting the first sight of a Derby or Oaks hopeful. Royal Mo was on the track ahead of the time slot reserved just for Derby and Oaks horses, as he is sitting “on the bubble,” needing a defection to be in the Derby field.



While I and everyone gathered had enjoyed the camaraderie and the sight of the horses, in some ways seeing them was like setting the stage for the main event, like the opening act for the rock stars you came to see. It truly did feel like that, given the usual practice of freshly harrowing the track for the Derby and Oaks horses and the quiet hush that hid a buzz of anticipation building again.


Practical Joke was the first to make an appearance



J Boys Echo



Gormley: there is something about his expression in this photo that I just love






Classic Empire. It’s hard to say if rooting for him makes sense or not given his reluctance to train earlier on, but he is from a top barn and I would like to see him win.


Irish War Cry impressed me as well.


It was tricky at times to get an entire horse in the frame and not heads of nearby people, so while I slightly missed Gunnevera’s nose in this one, it is still a good glimpse of him.



Classic Empire


Classic Empire


Classic Empire



Someone stepped in front of me at the last moment, but I still like this look at Classic Empire’s facial markings


Lynn Whiting’s barn reminded me of some of the serenity, with all the trees outside of its shedrow growing in such a way I had previously only seen at Saratoga.


Then it was on to the afternoon’s racing.


IMG_5342 daddys lil darling

Daddy’s Lil Darling, Kentucky Oaks hopeful, who I previously got acquainted with during a visit to Kenny McPeek’s barn last month

IMG_5350 el kabeir

IMG_5355 his royal majesty



As I left the track with one race remaining (as I was on my way to see the Pegasus Parade preview since I wouldn’t be in Louisville for the actual parade), I and other patrons were serenaded out, fittingly, by a rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home.” It was yet another prelude to what was to be, since my next visit here would be on that famous first Saturday in May.

Here’s to safe trips to all on Derby weekend!