Last year I drove 3 hours from LA to the Del Mar racetrack to see the breeder’s classic: the second richest horserace in the world with a $6,000,000 purse.
I get to the race course and there is no parking unless you are a VIP.I went and parked in downtown Del Mar. I started chatting with two lovely female real estate agents selling real estate in a tent. One of the lovely agents offered one of the agents to drive me to the race course 2 miles away. She dropped me off at the gates of the Del Mar racetrack.
I walked up to the ticket office and the lovely women behind the counter informed that the track was sold out. There were no more tickets to get into the track. Dejected I sat on the fence outside for over an hour contemplating my next move. As I looked up there was an older distinguished gentleman, in the most spectacular 6-piece suit I had ever laid eyes on. I asked him how his day was going. He replied his day was going great, and then he asked me how my day was going. I replied that I had come all the way from New Zealand to see the Breeders Cup and had been informed it was a sell out and I couldn’t enter the race course. He looked at me and quietly asked if I could behave myself. I quickly replied yes, I could behave myself. The gentlemen went on to say he had an all access pass with Bob Baffert head lining the pass. (Bob Baffert is the most successful horse trainer in the world) He gave me his Bob Baffert all access pass and said to me not to embarrass him with poor behavior. He even gave me his card just in case I run into Bob to explain where I got the pass from.
I walked up to the the entrance and as soon as the attendants saw the all access pass they gave me a personal escort into the grandstand of race track.
I became an instant rock star for the day.
Bing Crosby had the track built in the 1940s
I met an Australian TV producer and his crew. I told them I was Bob Baffert;s morning track rider. He asked if the crew could follow me around the track in hopes of catching up with Bob Baffert. I said they were welcome to join me.
I was standing in the stands with this Australian TV crew and up comes a young couple. They asked me to take their photo. I said to them I am terrible at taking photos, perhaps they should use the professional camera man from the TV crew. He takes their photo and they look at it happily thank him and leave. About 5 minutes later I see them taking another photo of themselves with same help from a stranger a few rows down from us. In the next 20 minutes I see them redo their photo 8 times. At this point the cameraman gets perturbed about not doing a good job. I go over and confront them about redoing the photo so many times. The guy just rolls his eyes and said she is impossible about getting the perfect photo.
I bet on the first winner World Approval, which allowed me to make enough money to pay for the the entire day.
I kept telling the crowd I was the morning track work rider for Bob Baffert Many people in the crowd started coming up and asking what it was like riding, a world class thoroughbred horse. I compared it to riding a jet engine. The horses were so fast and their acceleration was indescribable. The crowd was coming up to me for my autograph, which I was more than accommodating to sign all autograph seekers that asked. The irony is I am 5 10 200 pounds not the physique of a jockey at all. Amazing what strangers will believe.
I told two crazy guys with wacked out colored suits the truth, they were laughing so hard. I told them how I obtained the all access pass, they were in on the joke. They thought it was so funny they started following me around. Now I had TV crew and two groupies following me around for two completely different reasons.
Patrons were now coming up asking which horses form Bob Baffert’s stable were training well and, had the best chance to win.
An older couple asked about triple crown winner American Pharaoh. When did the stable realize American Pharaoh could be a triple crown winner. I told them I had the joy of riding morning track work for American Pharaoh. I thought the Arkansas derby showed his class. While in the started gate he hit his head on the front of the gate, which made him get his tongue stuck above the bit. This makes it almost impossible to breath correctly. The gates opened and American Pharaoh stumbled out of the gate and ended up 8 lengths last. He should have been pulled up. Unfazed American Pharaoh looped the field on the home turn to run away and win by 8 lengths. That was when we knew this horse had a shot at winning the triple crown. Towards the end of the story I began sobering and crying. The women starting crying with me and offered me a tissue. She said to me that was the most emotional horse racing story she had ever heard. They both thanked me profusely and bought me a beverage.
In the VIP tent I ran into Notah Begay professional golfer who attended Stanford with Tiger Woods.Notah will Tiger ever win again on the PGA tour. Without missing a beat Notah says absolutely Tiger will win again. Wish Tiger the best of luck, he may need it.
I had to walk 2 miles back into town to get my car. While walking on the side of the highway with no side walk a drunk guy was in front of me weaving in and out of the highway almost getting hit be cars. I grabbed him and kept him safe until we got to a side walk.
What an adventurous day that was.