Friday, October 16, 2009
The last day of my Saratoga trip dawned clear and cold -- so cold, in fact, that we had to scrape ice off the car windshield before heading out to the Oklahoma Track. On our arrival at the training track, Nicholas Bachalard graciously showed my colleague, Wayne Atwell, and me around the barns and training track. Bachalard is assistant to trainer Christophe Clement and has a string of horses training at the Oklahoma Training Track until it closes at the end of this month. After that, I am hoping to see him with a string at Santa Anita.
The barn was bustling with activity as horses and riders prepared to head out for their morning jogs, gallops or breezes, then returned for quick cool downs. Everyone seemed to move with a distinct focus, getting their work done in spite of the freezing cold -- or perhaps moving more quickly and purposely as a way of keeping warm.
We watched several of the stable's workers as well as a few from the barns of Todd Pletcher and James Bond. My eye was caught by Laureate Conductor, a lovely 3-year-old bay colt by Bernstein, who was out for a morning gallop for the Clement barn.
I reluctantly left the track to begin my day of travel back to California -- with frozen fingers, a new appreciation for the sturdy people who work with our equine athletes, and memories of Saratoga that will make me smile for years to come.