I overthink what to pack for any trip, but this one I had thought about for months. I ultimately went with a beautiful white boucle dress that had a silver print. It was silver, but I’ll call it “chrome.” I told myself it was fate and my good luck charm, especially since I found it with only four days to go. Luckily the fascinator that I had already purchased worked well. I wanted the full race day experience, so a fascinator was definitely going in the luggage.
Thankfully it was a beautiful November day! I semi-wished for more autumn weather, but I appreciated not having to carry a coat. I thought there was no way it could be almost 80 degrees by November, but my friend proved me wrong. Apparently this is typical of SoCal.
I was excited to see Santa Anita Park in person since I have seen it on television. When we walked through the entrance, saw the Breeder’s Cup banner, the paddock to our right, and the Zenyatta statue in front of us, it hit me. I was so giddy that my dream for the last two years was finally coming true. I was seeing California Chrome run today!
My friend Xelina and I arrived in time for the fourth race of the day. We watched it from inside while grabbing lunch. These fancy ladies both ordered loaded nachos. Since we were near the betting windows, I decided to place two trifecta bets. Remember, full race day experience. One was for 1. California Chrome, 2. Frosted, 3. Arrogate, and the other bet was for 1. California Chrome, 2. Arrogate, and 3. Frosted. Come on funding for momma’s next grand adventure!!!
We enjoyed every last nacho chip while appreciating the amazing view of the track with beautiful mountain backdrop, and just in time for race five. By race eight, we were ready to move around again and saw some clearing by the track railing directly ahead of us. It seemed liked a great opportunity to see at least one race directly against the rail. Since it was a race for two-year-olds, I will be interested to see if any of these babies just starting out will show up on the three-year-old circuit next year. Perhaps a 2017 Kentucky Derby winner? We know what horses look like and how big they are, but their strength and beauty is magnified being so close in person. It was thrilling to see and feel them run past us, and we immediately agreed that we wanted to take a break at our seats but come back for the final race.
The time was nearing for race eleven – The Breeders’ Cup Mile. The crowds by the railing were increasing exponentially, particularly closer to the finish line. We decided to make our move. Not being a major sports person, I was cheering and clapping as the horses swooshed by. Riding that high, I was pumped and ready for the finale . The race that I had been waiting all day for, months even. It was the race that ultimately brought me to Santa Anita – The Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Since we already had a spot right along the railing, we decided to stay put. The flat top mini bushes were perfect to lay down our racing programs. Most importantly, no one was in front of us to block our view. I would be as close to California Chrome as I could possibly be. Not going to lie, I started fangirling hard when the jumbo screens starting showing interviews with Chrome’s trainer, Art Sherman, and NBC hosts started talking about the competition. Then the screens showed the horses rounding the paddock outside the track, and I knew the horses were on their way. When the horses entered the track, I was all excited nerves. This must somewhat be what it feels like for die hard football fans decked out in team colors and face paint, right? Only dresses and fancy accessories for us, but I could relate.
Then there he was! When California Chrome was announced and passed by us, I almost wanted to jump up and down, but I couldn’t because I didn’t want to sprain an ankle or bump into the people standing behind me. The area near the railing was packed! I was flooded with emotion about why I was here – this horse. A horse whose story started from humble beginnings, an underdog, and he surprised the world with his power, speed, determination, becoming North America’s highest earning race horse. He was beautiful and agile, and now the more I think about it, he resembles the American dream. He is, after all, America’s horse.
He started out the gate ahead of the pack, and he maintained that lead almost the entire two minute race. With my friend and I spectating between the quarter pole and the finish line, he was still ahead when he passed us. It wasn’t until right near the finish that he was neck-and-neck, and then narrowly defeated by Arrogate. I was in such shock when they announced it, I had to ask my friend
Chrome was Number 4.
A part of me slumped. My boy had won every single race this year… except this one. Although slightly heartbroken, I was cheered up when Chrome was being led from the track by his groom, and they were walking toward our direction. I immediately started recording him, and others did too. Fans cheered for him, and some yelled how much they still loved him. Even with a loss, people are still inspired by him.
After today, only one opportunity is left to see this beautiful horse on the track, and I got to see him before the track lights dim. I smiled and was happy. No win, no big payout, but I saw California Chrome fly on the track from the railing, and it was all worth it.