"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Breeders' Cup Weekend

Friday, November 5
We headed north for Louisville this afternoon with our sister- and brother-in-law, Paige and Andy, in preparation for our attendance of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs racetrack on Saturday. We headed downtown for dinner at Browning's Brewery, a smallish eatery/bar that is built into the side of the city's minor league baseball park. The food was pretty standard pub fare, but decent and the beer was good as well (see Rob's beer blog for more on that). After dinner we headed over to the Tinseltown Theatres to catch the late opening-night showing of Due Date starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galafinakis (of The Hangover fame). It was a bodacious, over-the-top-at-times comedy that keep us laughing throughout. Afterwards, we headed back over to our ho-hum but dirt-cheap, clean and efficient Best Western hotel to get some sleep before our big day at the races tomorrow. Saturday, November 6
It was Day 2 of the 2010 Breeders' Cup and there were 11 horse races on the slate today, eight of which would crown Breeders' Cup champions in different categories depending on age and track style (dirt or turf). The last race of the day would be the Breeders' Cup Classic and would feature the biggest "rock star" of the horse racing world right now, Zenyatta, whose 19-0 record is unprecedented. This would be her last race before retirement and she was going for 20-0 on one of the biggest stages in horse racing. It was going to be a historic day.
We got to the track bright and early an hour or so before the first race. It was unseasonably cold for early November and Churchill Downs, while historic and lovely, doesn't seem to be very well-equipped for really cold weather. There were very few heated areas to warm up in, but we made the best of it wandering in and out of gift shops and their on-site cafe for lunch to thaw out a bit. We were glad we had all bought gloves and long underwear the night before as the sunny skies never produced highs over the mid 40's. Our betting was as limited as our real knowledge of horse racing. We bet long shots most of the day in hopes of turning $2 or $5 bets into a little decent cash. Our seats were about 15 rows off the track right (photo above is from our seats) as the stretch for the finish line began. Not the best in the house, by far, but close enough to hear and see the action on the outer dirt track as well as the inside turf track.
As the races and the day were winding down with the sun setting, the cold got to us enough that we decided to miss a race or two from our seats (they ran about every 45 minutes) and go out to our car which was nearby, and warm up inside and then come back for the last, historic race. We weren't winning anything up until that point anyway. When we got to the car and felt the wonderful warm air, we remembered that earlier in the day when we got there before the gates opened, we were able to walk right up to the track in a little area the media was using and take some pictures and nobody said anything to stop us. Could we do it again during the races? We sure could! (photo above) We were able to watch the last three races track-side including The Classic with Zenyatta herself walking right past us as she was led to the starting gate in front of the grandstands (photo left). She was an amazing thing of beauty and power to see that up-close and personal. As would have it, Ashlee's bets on the last two races actually won including calling the heart-breaking upset win by a nose of Blame (9 to 1 odds at $5) over Zenyatta. Twenty more yards and "The Queen" would have won, but hey, that's racing. Ashlee ran in quickly and collected her winnings (about $90 in total) and we were able to scoot out of the parking lot and traffic fairly quickly and easily. What a great day and experience!
We went to dinner at a regional chain restaurant called, BJ's. They brew their own beer here as well (guess who found this and guess whose blog you can read more details about the beer on?). The food was excellent as was the beer.
Sunday, November 7
We slept in late this morning while enjoying our extra hour of sleep with the clocks rolling back. We found a great local place for brunch called Wild Eggs. The place was packed and for a good reason. The food was outstanding! Afterwards, we headed south toward home making one pit-stop at our favorite (and the world's oldest according to Guinness) bourbon distillery, Maker's Mark, in the tiny hamlet of Loretto, Kentucky. We have been here before but Paige and Andy had not, plus Ashlee wanted to get a unique birthday present for a friend of hers in California who is a fan of the product. She was able to buy a small bottle and hand-dip it in their famous red wax herself (photo above). Their tour is free and interesting, and our guide, Chase, was funny (and maybe a little tipsy since this was his last tour of the day that all end with samples that he partakes of as well). We were able to sample their newest product, 46, which came out in July. It's a little mellower (and more enjoyable to us) than their regular bourbon when you sip it straight because it's briefly aged in French oak before being bottled.
A great trip and a great first experience with world-class horse racing in the land where it matters the most. The Breeders' Cup is scheduled for Churchill Downs again next year and, of course, the Kentucky Derby is always there. We will be adding those to our possible endeavors for 2011 for sure.


Craig and Alison Harris said...

We watched the races and thought you'd probably bet on Dakota Phone (the longshot) on the Dirt Mile... I think it paid $77 to win?? I picked that horse out because it was a cool name and a longshot... paid $77.40 to win. Does that mean I would have won $380 on a five dollar bet?

Rob and Ashlee said...

I (Rob) went for a different long shot on that one...30-1 I think...but that Dakota Phone is why you play longshots...yep, you would have scored $380..c'est le vie...