World Championship Horse Show – Wednesday Night

 

This post has been edited to correctly report Along Came A Spider’s finish. 

Finally, we arrived at the State Fair!  We took the shuttle over, and after finding out where the barn area is located, I headed over to see if any of the horses were being worked.  I was in luck! There was one 5-gaited horse in the practice ring, but they were almost finished.  Boo.

Some of the tack stores have trailers set up for shopping opportunities, and I found some cute, totally geek shirts to spend my money on.  I also purchased the mondo huge show book, which is spiral bound and weighs about 5 pounds.  I bought one for Kim, too, since she can’t be here and begged me to pick one up for her.  That was 10 additional pounds that I had to drag around all night!

We headed, slowly (we do everything slowly!!) to our seats, and waited for the show to begin.  The first class as a HUGE 5-gaited mare class.  I can’t believe how many entries were in each class!  There were 19 in the first class, and that was about the norm all night.  There were 11 hackey ponies!  At most of the shows I have been to, there are, at most, 3.  It was really fun seeing all the ponies, though 2 had to be excused.  The fine harness class had about 10 entries.  Some of the classes were split because there were so many competing.

It was really exciting seeing some of the horses in person that I have been reading about in magazines.  Along Came A Spider was here, and what a beautiful mare she is!  She finished 1st in her class.  The quality of horses here is incredible.  Jenny Taylor was in 2 classes, including a 4th place finish on Beringer Red.  Until this show, I had never seen a horse as lovely as he is.  After seeing the other horses in last night’s performance, he doesn’t look quite so special.  I can hardly wait for the championships!

Churchill Downs

 

We went to Churchill Downs, and took the back track tour.  There’s a front track tour that’s included in the admission price, but to cause more money to depart from your wallet, they charge if you want a chance to get a look at the training stables.  

 

I thought this was pretty interesting.  They use 100,000 gallons of water, per day,  to water the track so the 3.5 inch top layer stays soft.  Under the sand is concrete, so they have to keep the top layer watered and groomed so the horses don’t ruin their legs.  (Not that it doesn’t happen anyway)  The regular winners circle and the press area where they display the horses before the races is lined with recycled tires, which again is a softer surface for the horses’ legs.  There are schooling stalls in the display area to get young horses accustomed to the noise and commotion. 

 

For the back track tour, we climbed into a van and headed through an underground tunnel to the inside of the track.  On Derby Day, they sell 100,000 $40 tickets, and have a huge party on the interior of the track!  Most of the people in there can’t even see the horses run!  They just go for the party.  Personally, I don’t want to pay 40 bucks to be packed like a sardine into a small area with 100,000 of my closest friends!

 

The barn area was interesting.  There is a school for anyone who wants to go that is staffed by volunteers for the people working on the track.  There are free dorm rooms, too.  Some of the barns have small apartments above them.  The trainers lease out the barns, and they charge an average of 3,000 per horse per month for training. (And I thought Blondie was expensive!!)   Some of the trainers have leased the same barns for decades!  During the racing season, there are about 1400 horses stabled at the tracks.  During the off season (now), there are only about 1000.  We missed the morning warm ups, which would have been interesting, and during race season, the tour group can see the races start from the stable area.  Missed out again!

Louisville – Here We Are!

 

After getting a late start, (and I thought Dean was bad in the morning!), we continued our journey to Louisville.   Due to heavy traffic in southern Ohio, and accidents in Kentucky, we didn’t get to the hotel until noon.  Since the morning session started at 9, I wasn’t sure if it was worth running across the street to catch the end of it.  Instead we went to Churchill Downs.

First impressions of the hotel are very favorable.  They are even running a shuttle to the fairgrounds, but the latest they pickup is 11pm.  I’ll have to get up early tomorrow and hope I can watch some of the morning workouts, or wait until M & Laurie get here, and beg a ride back to the hotel from them. 

Back in Dayton

Here I am in Dayton – again.  We pulled into the hotel parking lot around 5:30, and went to grab something to eat.  If we had realized that we would arrive so early, we probably would have driven all the way to Louisville, but since there’s a penalty for canceling the hotel room, here we are for the night. 

We had dinner at O’Charlie’s, which wasn’t too bad, for a chain.  The restaurant was a little too loud, due to the open floor plan.  I ordered Cajun Shrimp Pasta,  no onions or green peppers.  The food portion was just about right, and it was pleasantly spicy, but nothing overwhelming.  The bread that came with the meal was seasoned with cinnamon, and took a little for me to get used to.  I was soon brainwashed into thinking it was about the best bread that I had ever eaten.

Tomorrow morning may prove challenging, as I am told that someone, who shall remain nameless, takes a while to get moving in the morning.  Oh, yeah, this person’s name doesn’t start with an "M." I would like to get to Louisville to see the morning sessions.  Barring that, I would like to be able to watch some of the warm ups, or walk around the fair. 

More tomorrow!  Unless I finish one of the books I brought tonight.


Getting Ready to Go – Again!

I’m getting ready for a journey to another horse show.  This time just to watch.  I’m so lucky that Dean deals well with my obsessions; he hasn’t really complained once about me being out of town so much this summer (of course, I’m bribing him with a trip to Disney).

I am looking forward to attending my first state fair, as well.  Hopefully I’ll find some entertainment value in it, since I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time there, since I won’t have a car.  I really hope that the hotel is within walking distance, as their website proclaims.  Otherwise, I’m pretty much screwed since the rest of the barn people aren’t arriving until Friday afternoon, and they are staying somewhere else.  I really want to watch the late night training sessions, but I don’t know yet how practical that is going to be. 

M called the lady that I bought Blondie from, and told her that Laurie and I are attending the horse show.  Laurie bought her pony from her.  She invited us to come to their stabling area and meet them!  I was excited about this when M told me, and after watching the live video feed from the show last night, now I’m really looking forward to it.  They had three beautiful First Night Out yearlings in the yearling class, and they finished 1, 3 & 5.  I liked Bingo Night the best (she finished 3rd), and hope I can see her in person on Friday. 

I’ll update as time permits.  Without a car to get back and forth to the hotel, I might only be able to post in the mornings, though.  We are supposed to go to the Louisville Zoo, and maybe squeeze a trip to Churchhill Downs.  Tomorrow there are a ton of classes during the day that I want to see at the horse show, so finding the time to do everything that I want is going to be tough.


 

Disney Dining – What a PAIN!

I am still in the process of getting our Disney trip planned.  The part I hate the most (besides paying for it!), is setting up the Priority Seating at the restaurants.

I mentioned before that I’m a hotel snob.  Let me also say that I’m a bigger food snob.   I despise fast food, and while an occasional french fry is a delight, they are full of so many nasty fat grams that I try to avoid them.  Fried food gives me heart burn, and I’d rather save the calories for something a bit more refined, such as crab cakes or  stuffed shrimp.  Drool

By forcing visitors to make Priority Seating arrangements, a lot of the spontaneity of the vacation is destroyed.  Unless we eat at food booths the entire vacation, or eat off site, we are pretty much forced to play the PS game.  The first time we went to Disney, we were tickled to discover that there is a restaurant in Cinderella’s Castle.  We were equally ticked to learn that it was booked for the entire day, and our chances of eating there were nil.  Since that visit, I spend at least an hour on the phone, booking our meals, 3 months in advance of our trip!!  How stupid is that? 

There are a couple of things that I think Disney can do to make this a more level playing field.  First, don’t take Priority Seating.  This isn’t even a real reservation, as you still have to wait, sometimes for quite a while, before you are seated at your table.  I wonder how many people make PS arrangements, and then change their plans without calling and canceling.

Second, open more full service restaurants.  There is obviously a demand for them, if you have to make PS arrangements more than 90 days in advance!  I guess we could just travel over to Downtown Disney for dinner, but everything there is a chain restaurant.  We could just as easily eat at the Rain Forest Cafe at Great Lakes Crossing, as in DDD.  It was novel the first time we went to Vegas, and I had never seen such a wonderfully themed restaurant before, but now that they are popping up all over, it’s just not the same!  Ditto for Planet Hollywood and House of Blues.  They have been added to most large tourist destinations, and are no longer special.

This year, Dean listed 3 places that he wanted to dine at again, and he left the rest of the meals to my discretion.  His three favorite places are Cinderella’s Royal Table, the Coral Reef, and the Brown Derby.  I didn’t want to eat at Cinderella’s again, until I learned that the menu has changed, and it’s now character dining.  Since he would never attend a character meal before, I figure this is my only chance to sit with Mickey or Pluto for a few minutes. 

This year, I thought it would be fun to eat at some of the deluxe resorts, since we sure can’t afford to stay at one, and we could check out the themes of the various hotels.  We are going to be eating at Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Citricos at the Swan, the California Grill at the Contemporary.

I am also going to succeed in my plan to eat my way around Epcot.  To help with this goal, we have PS at the Canadian restaurant, Le Cellier,  one of the countries that foiled my plans last year.  This is also the first year that we will not be eating in Italy or Morocco. Morocco has a cafe, so I’m not worried about that, but Italy might be a problem.  We might have to try to squeeze into the restaurant for dessert.

My Credit Card Screams – Another Journey to Disney

Since I got sick last year and didn’t thoroughly enjoy my visit to Disney, not to mention my failure in my goal to eat my way around the world, I informed Dean that we’re going to see Mickey again.  He didn’t put up much of a fuss, so I polished up my credit card and prepared it for the heavy burden of the Disney trip.

I shopped airfare and hotel rates for 3 weeks before deciding that we need to stay at the Hilton, so we can still take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours.  It’s the only non-Disney hotel that participates.  I wonder how much that cost them?  I was even able to rent a car, budget for a day at Universal, and upgrade to a junior suite for less than the cost of a standard room at Animal Kingdom.  Staying at a Disney property is prohibitably expensive, especially if you are a hotel snob like I am.  Damn the San Diego Marroitt and Marina; it has spoiled me for lesser hotels!

I still have to purchase the park passes, but I hope to get those through AAA.  Failing that, there is a site online that sells them at a higher discount than Travelocity. 

Speaking of Travelocity, this year they were over $500 cheaper than Expedia!  Normally, it’s the other way around, and I wasn’t even going to shop them!  However, I had a problem with Expedia and disappearing Disney Park Hopper tickets, which even a call to their customer service department didn’t fix – they said I had to stay at a Disney property to purchase park passes from them.  Since when???  Until I went to actually book the trip, the park passes were saved on the itinerary.  Then, when I tried to pay for the trip, the tickets disappeared!  And I couldn’t get them back.  Rebuilding the trip did not help.  The tickets were no longer offered.  So I went to Travelocity while I was on the phone with the Expedia customer service rep, and proved to him that you CAN buy the tickets on line if you aren’t staying at a Disney property.  When I saw how much cheaper the vacation was with Travelocity, I thanked the guy for his time, told him the price at Travelocity, and told him I could be booking with them instead.

Now I have to book a hotel room by the airport, as our plane leaves at 6:40 am.  My biggest fear is that we miss the flight – Dean has an adversion to getting to the airport early, which has almost cost us 3 vacations now.  Hopefully this trip will begin a little more smoothly. 

 

What?! I have to wear a DRESS to the horse show???

 

So, to my utter dismay, I discovered that I am expected to wear a dress to the last night of the horse show.  This is utterly insane!  Why did I have to pick the one discipline of riding where you have to wear make-up, do your hair, and wear a suit to ride your horse??  

Since I have no nice clothes, I ran up to the mall Saturday night.  And spent about 3 hours fruitlessly searching for something that fit, didn’t cost a lot, and looked halfway decent on me.  I finally got the brilliant idea to hit the girls’ department at Lord and Taylor.  Pay dirt!!  I found a black dress on clearance, that fits, and doesn’t make me look like I’m ten.  It also hides the fact that I have nothing up top, and flatters my generous rear.  Yeah!  All that for 30 bucks!!

I also purchased a cute jacket at Marshall Fields and a skirt that matches at Kohls but I’ll be returning them this week.  I wasn’t sure last night if the dress would work, but when I modeled it for Dean today, he said that  it was long enough, and looked nice.  I was worried about the length, but it comes to the tops of my chubby knees, so if I wear spandex hose, all of my jiggly parts should be contained, and everything should look alright.

Now, I have to find a pair of shoes to wear! This is stupid!  I have to wear heels to the horse show??  God, I hope I don’t trip and fall down the stadium steps!!