Chardonnay Dreams and Winners Circle Wishes

      I can still feel the Fourteen Hands Chardonnay pumping through my veins as I walk back to the valet cursing the heels that I am wearing and my aching feet.

     An autumns afternoon at Santa Anita Race Track means it is ninety two degrees with forty mile an hour wind gusts. This us California and our horrible Santa Ana winds blowing out of the canyons. All day long sweat poured down my silk blouse as we waited in the owners box seats in the grand stand for my friends four year old horse Key Vista to run in the eighth race.
      We were so hopeful.
      Just nine months ago on a cold December day Key Vista won her first and only race by nine lengths!
     Than she had a foot problem.
     She missed months of training while her ailing owner Rich battled stage four liver cancer and struggled through chemo.
     He sold his other race horses but kept Key Vista.
     She was special.
     My good friends invited me out today to watch their friends race horse run and I was completely thrilled to get to hang out in box seats, get to go into the paddock with the owners and meet the jockeys before the race, and maybe, just maybe get our picture taken in the winners circle!
     A week before the race I found out the horse was trained by my idol, trainer Bob Baffert.
     Three days before the race I found out that champion jockey Gary Stevens would ride Key Vista.
     The mare was working a hole in the wind in the mornings and I thought we had a great chance of having our picture taken in the winners circle.
     The day of the race we carpooled to the track together and approached Santa Anita’s giant green grandstand.
     The entire club house area of the track had been remodeled the prior spring and as we walked through the doors and into chilly air conditioning the ancient race track looked returned to her former glory of the twenties.
     There were glass bars along the perimeters of the clubhouse and it was very showy Las Vegas looking.
     We went to one of the newly opened restaurants and I ordered a pasta dish with Gorgonzola and a Dark Horse Chardonnay; Santa Anita, a great excuse to drink chardonnay at two p.m!
    The day passes in a whirl wind of fast horses, ripped up tickets and more glasses of Chardonnay.
    Before I know it its time for the eighth race.
   “Do you guys want to go to the paddock and meet Gary?” (The jockey) we are asked.
   I am practically flying out of my seat, fueled by Chardonnay, pasta and the dreams that this is one of those moments on my bucket list I have always dreamed about.
    An hour earlier I had found out the bad news that Bob Baffert does not actually train this horse.

     Horse racing is a funny sport; I still do not really get it and I have been a fan of the sport of kings for twenty years now.  I don’t get the ins and the outs of a sport with so many stringent rules than you find out the horse you are betting on is not actually even trained by the king pin of horse racing.
    The horse is trained by one of his assistants who doesn’t hold his own trainers license.
    Is I guess the trainer and the horse just runs in Bob Baffert’s Stable, something that seems very illegal to me, as the odds on the horse tick down to 1-2, extremely low, but common when you are betting on a horse that the general public thinks is trained by Bob Baffert, a man who wins at a 35 percent success rate.
    That is really high in horse racing, like the top in the country high. It seems so wrong to me that the general public has no idea that Bob Baffert has nothing to do with the beautiful dappled bay horse who is being saddled before us now.
   Yes this means I did not get to meet my idol as we made our way across the wood chips in the paddock and onto the turf, my heels sinking into the soft grass.
    I am so just so excited to be here in this moment as I eye the number seven spot that we are standing next to, waiting for the jockey to make his way over and also Marlo what’s his name.
    The next few moments pass so quickly as I realize I am standing next to Gary Stevens one of the worlds greatest jockeys.
    I have to ask him for a picture and I think to myself, wow I am way taller than Gary Stevens!
    Our paddock moments are fleeting, the jockeys get on their horse with a leg up from the trainers and we are heading back to the grandstand.
    Key Vista looked so great in the paddock, every one said, what a gorgeous animal she is, so at the last minute we all lay down big wagers on her.
    Our hearts are thumping in our chests and we are all standing up as the gates open and Key Vista flies out her brown nose in front!
    She leads the race the entire way until the far turn looms six furlongs later and she falls back to last.
    Her ailing owner is speechless
    ” Last”
    It sucks to be the fan that just tried to wish her way into the winners circle today; denied.
    It aches to be the owner of the dirt be speckled horse, time running out and just wishing she could have held on for another furlong.