Sweetheart, What’s Another Word for Murderous?

October 8, 2008 § 4 Comments

So, we are in Lexington. We leave tomorrow morning but I thought perhaps, seeing as we have, in two days, exhausted every possible avenue of fun in Lexington, I would spend this night filling everyone in on what we have been doing on vacation (because we are just sitting in the hotel room drinking and trying our hardest not to kill each other). And those things have been:

1. Driving. It is eight hours from Virginia to Lexington. After six hours, in West Virginia, Scott looked over and asked me if I wanted to stop, and get something to eat, and the look I gave him can only be classified as somewhere between murderous and homicidal. We did not stop; we forged on.

2. Trying not to kill each other.

3. Visiting wineries. Dear friends in Virginia: I am bringing back more than a case of the finest of Kentucky. Be prepared.

4. Visiting horse farms. Thanks to a friend of a friend with connections in Kentucky, we’ve been treated to behind-the-scenes tours of Three Chimneys — where Smarty Jones and Dynaformer stand in stud, soon to hopefully be joined by Big Brown (I say hopefully only because it seems like bad luck to say otherwise; he’s not done racing). You probably don’t know a ton about Dynaformer (I don’t, really) but he is the most expensive stallion ($150,000 for a session, ladies) they have; he is also, as Scott and I continued to put it, thirsty for blood. Dynaformer is a mean sonuvabitch who would kill all of us if given the opportunity; the grooms at the farm confirm as much.

He is also, for the casual racing fan, the father of ill-fated Barbaro, and for the super-serious racing fan, the father of Nicanor and Lentenor, full brothers to Barbaro (out of La Ville Rouge). The tour guide at Three Chimneys also let slip, and probably shouldn’t have, that La Ville Rouge is expecting another Dynaformer foal — apparently owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson keep trying and hoping for a full sister to Barbaro — but an early ultrasound says it’s another colt.

When she told us that, part of me felt bad for the Jacksons — they have undoubtedly experienced all the sorrow and joy and pain racing can give an owner — and the other part of me felt jealous. Money, they has it. However, racing fans in general have hung a lot of hope onto the Dynaformer-La Ville Rouge line, and I would like to see nothing more than those brothers have continued greatness in light of Barbaro’s death. But, to put it in perspective, that’s like you or I winning a $50 million lottery twice in our lives — it won’t happen. (I want to be wrong.)

4a. Visiting horse farms. Again, thanks to the same friend of a friend, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of Gainesway Farm, which, no offense to Three Chimneys, was infinitely prettier and more personable (Three Chimneys runs like the kind of place that would and has had a book written about it; efficient and Wal-Martesque).

The staff at Gainesway gave us a one-on-one showing, taking our requests (“We’re big fans of Afleet Alex and Tapit,” we told them, and they specially brought those stallions out for us to see [they may have thought we were of money, looking to spend money]).

Alex waited patiently for us to take photos; he actually gave Scott a dirty look when he took too long with the camera. I scolded Tapit for costing me money in the Derby after such an electrifying win in the Wood; later, they went back in their stalls and the sales manager showed us around the rest of the barns, where we’d come face to face with a horse I once swore I’d assassinate if given the opportunity … Birdstone.

The grooms let Scott give Birdstone a rubdown; I stood to the side, we could be friendly but I’d never forgive him for beating Smarty Jones in the Belmont.

On the way out of Gainesway, we strolled past Afleet Alex’s stall, where he was butting his head up against the iron gate of his stall. I reached in to scratch the itch, and he leaned in toward me. I scratched, he leaned, until finally he sighed, shook himself and nodded his head slightly, in thanks, as if I was the one who’d done him a favor. The woman giving us a tour smiled and said to me, “I try not to play favorites, but with him … ” I can’t really write a sentence to sum up how I feel about that moment, in general, aside from: HOLY SHIT I TOUCHED AFLEET ALEX, FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME. And he thanked me.

5. Watching races. If you read this blog, or if you know me, you know we were at the Derby this year, and you know that the end of that race plunged us into a despair, a period of questioning that I’m glad to be, but just barely, out of. I think this trip started a new chapter — one in which I’m more interested in the care, in the background, in the home life and the breeding and the caretakers — than who wins a race. Truth be told, we made bets today at Keeneland, and we didn’t win a single one — but damn, we came close; every trifecta I bet I had two of the winners, just based on a new “I know this sire and I know this farm and I recognize this bloodline” knowledge. I whispered “Come home safe” to myself as they loaded up the gates before every race, and whether or not it counts as coming full circle, they all did. (Of course, Keeneland has Polytrack, but that’s another story.)

6. Playing with barn cats. Photos to come but apparently Scott has an album to share; where there is a Meredith and where there are cats, worlds supposedly happily collide.

There are other posts and stories to be told, but for now, this will do.

§ 4 Responses to Sweetheart, What’s Another Word for Murderous?

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