THIS is Saratoga

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Saratoga Selfie
After a misty morning at the track side breakfast, a full day of racing is ahead. And, tis true: no hat and no fancy clothes. Sorry to disappoint.

I made one trip this summer to the races at Saratoga, with friends to the Whitney Handicap.

Also, as y’all know, I’m campaigning via social media to win the Backstretch Tour package for the 2017 Breeder’s Cup in DelMar in the #BCSweepstakes. The contest sponsor helpfully provides ready-made video and tweets we can post.

This is one of them:

Horses in Heaven for Sam Shepard

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The only video I could find of Sam Shepard with a horse is this scene from the movie “Ruffian,” portraying her maiden race, in which Shepard plays her trainer Frank Whiteley.

Thoughts of Sam Shepard may be more of theater, space exploration, and passionate family drama — less like a Norman Rockwell painting but more like Anakin Skywalker’s family.

But Shepard was a horseman, too. A former hot walker, rodeo rider, team roper, polo player, and breeder of race horses.

Serendipity and the Saddle Box

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Businesses often pitch me to post on this blog. I turn down most requests. Others, especially if the email pitch feels “boilerplate,” I ignore.

The owner of a family-owned company offered me a free Saddle Box via email. If I wanted a free box, business owner Phil Van Treuren said, I could send him my postal address. Phil said nothing about being on the blog, nor mentioned “free for an honest review,” but obviously his inquiry arrived because of this blog.

Googling Saddle Box and browsing the site told me Saddle Box is a curated collection of equestrian-themed sample goodies designed for and delivered by subscription. It’s a family-owned and run business complete with photos of the Van Treurens on the website.

I liked what I saw but wondered what I’d do with whatever came in the box. Once a week, I ride school horses, someone else’s horses. I already invest in lessons, fly spray, peppermints, cooling shirts, and various items of equestrian apparel.

Then, I decided to keep what I wanted and give the rest of the box to my riding instructor Christine.

Meanwhile, back at the barn

Royal Ascot on TV: Comments on the Coverage

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Featured in the telecast was this custom Royal Ascot globe made by Bellerby & Co. The broadcast featured a story about the making of this globe, plus images of the Royal Ascot globe were used for transitions between the program, a.k.a., “bumps.”

In Summer 2017, NBC Sports aired horse racing live from Royal Ascot for the first time. With announcer/TV presenter Nick Luck fronting the American-ized version, most of the action was covered by ITV, which did a wonderful job.

I hope y’all at NBC were taking notes on the production, especially for Kentucky Derby coverage.

“Win & You’re In” Is Going Around!

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Breeders Cup Win and You're In image

Right after the 2017 Kentucky Derby, I told y’all my Derby Dreams. No big hats, high heels, or mint juleps. More like, a windbreaker, hard boots, and a cup of joe.

I still dream of touring the Churchill Downs backside during Derby Week with NBC Sports Announcers Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey just to listen and watch and learn. To paraphrase Randy’s on-air statement, I wouldn’t “kill for” the opportunity, but I did make a pitch here on the blog.

Coincidentally, during the coverage of the Belmont Stakes, America’s Best Racing and Harrahs announced they’ve added another VIP Experience┬áopportunity

  • A TV package in which a meet-and-greet with Randy and Jerry is included along with a view of life on the TV crew and time at the golf shoot at Tory Pines.

Regular readers of this blog suspect I’ll pass on that offer.

Been there, done that

You longtime readers know I used to work in TV sports and am an TV engineer’s wife. My reasoning for not going to the backstretch at the Derby those years ago, as I wrote in a previous post, is because I’d been presented a TV credential and I didn’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and screw up. My goal was to get to that spot on the press box roof after the race before the Derby. I was taking no chances. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Also, to look like a member of the crew, I was dressed for work. Pants, nice sleeveless sweater, and No Hat. A hatless woman at Churchill on Derby Day is conspicuous.

My hubs “MacGuyver” didn’t just work on horse racing. He worked on a lot of golf tournaments. The first Skins Games in both Scottsdale and Palm Springs. Jamaica. The Bahamas. New Orleans. Greensboro, NC. West Palm … . See? It already looks like a Jimmy Buffet tour schedule. Or the lyrics to “Kokomo.”

After his schedule became less predictable (aka, we didn’t know his schedule far enough in advance for me to book cheap flights), I came off the road. I settled in with a camera and a notebook (yes, dead-tree paper) at a daily newspaper. On my desk bulletin board was a bumper sticker saying:

TV made me what I am today

I’ve worked as a member of the crew in a TV truck. I operated computer graphics machines for figure skating, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer. Before I was a network TV tech, I also “did remotes” with a small station TV truck, so I helped during “tear down,” a.k.a., packing up the equipment.

So, TV production? Been there, done that.

More about the #WinAndYoureIn

The hashtag tells you I’ve begun my campaign. Who knows if the hashtag works out here on the Wild Wild Web? The contest, like the Derby qualifying races, runs on a points system, calibrated through social media usage, but using the hashtag here is worth a shot, right? I’m using it as a keyword, too.

You’ve probably figured out, instead of going for a chance to meet Randy and Jerry–as well as enduring more exposure to TV golf–I chose the backstretch VIP Tour with the possibility of meeting trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith. The rules state the “possibility.” I realize they’ll have a lot to do. But I’d be closer to the horses than on the other tours. I must keep my eyes on the prize.

Breeders Cup at Del MarHeck, y’all are welcome to go for it, too. Think of it: a trip for two to the Breeders Cup in Del Mar on the first weekend in November.

Del Mar. It looks gorgeous on TV.

Ya know, I would be thrilled if one of y’all won. Thrilled. Be sure to tell me if you win. Heck, if you do, you can guest post about your experiences.

Then again, one of the other #BCSweepstakes tours may suit your fancy better. That’s okay, too. You may want to be on that TV truck. More power to you. ­čÖé

The #BC17 Challenge Races TV schedule

Wowza, there’s lots of horse racing coming up on TV, mostly NBC Sports Network on cable. As of this writing, we’re in the midst of Royal Ascot coverage here in the US.

But here’s the TV schedule of the 2017 Breeder’s Cup Challenge series.

May I add, that’s just racing on NBCSN. Fox Sports 1 has a deal to broadcast NYRA races. Check your local listings at to when. Anyway …

To Randy and Jerry

I’m sorry, guys, but you see my logic. I’m looking for a way into the Breeders Cup backstretch. Del Mar in November has its appeal as well. But the last place I want to be as part of a Breeder’s Cup adventure is on a golf course. Perish the thought.

When I do join you guys at Churchill some day, I’m buying at Starbucks.