Why We Love This Game — Written by Robin Buchanan

Why We Love This Game 

Written by Robin Buchanan

Chasing California Chrome

Anyone who knows me in person or follows  me on Twitter is probably pretty aware of my love and passion for California Chrome, – Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, and Horse of the Year in 2015. I first fell in love with him as he flew home to win the Santa Anita Derby. Watching him opening up on the field with such ease and listening to Trevor yell, “and California Chrome will be carrying the hopes of California all the way to the Kentucky Derby – he waltzed home under Victor Espinoza,” was all it took.

I carried the same hopes from my home in Texas. I was mesmerized by his effort and that race. That one race sealed the deal. He was “my horse” going into the Kentucky Derby. We all know that his Triple Crown bid ended in defeat and heartache, but for me it just fueled my love for him.

I had the ‘Hopportunity’ to see California Chrome in person at the Breeders’ Cup in 2014 thanks to Twitter friends. I was offered a ticket and I didn’t hesitate to go but that is an entirely different story. Seeing him at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park was amazing! He fought valiantly in an eventual loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Another perfect day at Santa Anita, where Robin first saw California Chrome in person. She'd return to Santa Anita to see California Chrome again.
Another perfect day at Santa Anita, where Robin first saw California Chrome in person. She’d return to Santa Anita to see California Chrome again.

Much happened after that and his journey continued. Chrome was pointed towards the Arlington Million to try the turf for a second time after his second place in the Dubai World Cup. He was back in the states and I couldn’t have been happier. I booked the trip to Chicago right away, hoping to see him again at Arlington. Sadly, that didn’t develop the way we thought; Chrome didn’t make that race and I missed seeing him there. I have to say though that Arlington Park was still the most beautiful track I have seen, so it made up for not seeing Chrome. Really, so beautiful.

A year had passed since his performance at the Breeders’ Cup and I still had high hopes to see him again. It turned out that he wasn’t ready for Breeders’ Cup 2015 or the great matchup that would have seen him go up against American Pharoah. I would have been yelling for him all the way to the finish line despite our newest Triple Crown winner running. What a dream come true that would have been for any horse racing fan. I am still wondering who would have jockeyed Chrome home for the win. Chrome will always be my horse and I was determined to see him again.

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Then, there was finally a date. California Chrome would return in the San Pasqual Stakes at the great race place Santa Anita Park. I couldn’t miss it! What an exciting chance to see him again and to see so many friends that I first met in person at the Breeders’ Cup. I have so much love for that track and the people there. Where else should both of us return to but Santa Anita? It was a perfect scenario.

The Zenyatta statue was one of many sights captured by Robin at Santa Anita.
The Zenyatta statue was one of many sights captured by Robin at Santa Anita.
Robin (left) poses for a photo with the bugler at Santa Anita.
Robin (left) poses for a photo with the bugler at Santa Anita.

The three days I experienced at Santa Anita couldn’t have been any better. Me and so many friends, all from Twitter, sharing our love for the Sport of Kings together: @Belfet @sassypratt @tarferg @starting_gate @GLoriousAllianc @JoeFundMee @AskRubenHow2Bet @sandyinmarin @just_es  @AuerHeat @suburbanSpaceCadet @ladyninon @FulghamTim @MrsLosPonies @LosPonies. I’m lucky to call them my friends and we were ready to roll!

Robin (far right) in front of the paddock at Santa Anita with friends she connected with as part of the racing community on Twitter.
Robin (far right) in front of the paddock at Santa Anita with friends she connected with as part of the racing community on Twitter.

Chrome’s big day came and it was nuts. GAME ON! I had so much fun seeing friends I met previously and many new ones. Could it get any better? It is great to share the same passion of horse racing with so many. I was lucky to run into @JoeTalamo and Lafitt Pincay. It took me a while to come back to reality after that. The day was off to a great start.

Robin, left, snaps cell phone photos of California Chrome in the Santa Anita paddock before his return to the races.
Robin, second from the left, snaps cell phone photos of California Chrome in the Santa Anita paddock.                 Photo credit: Melanie Martines
California Chrome in the paddock, from Robin's perspective.
California Chrome in the paddock, from Robin’s perspective.

It soon was Chrome time and he did not disappoint. He looked ready to roll in the paddock and walking ring. I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait. I had the thrill and enjoyment to see him again. Finally, it was off to the apron. I proudly watched him break well from the gate and then enjoyed seeing him stalk and then pull away from the field. California Chrome was back. What a wonderful thing to see, a moment to witness, and a day I’d never forget. He crossed the finish line first, again. I was elated.

Sunday brought more excitement than I could handle. After the race, I also had the good fortune of being able to go to the barn to try to see Chrome. I was shaking on the way due to my excitement. Unfortunately, I arrived at a bad time and could only see Chrome briefly. He was getting ready to be shipped back to Los Alamitos and he had a busy morning. I left him with a big bag of Mrs. Pastures cookies, bid my love and farewell to him, and went about my way. I walked away with a happy heart. I was so close but didn’t get touch him again. Next time, Chrome. I want to thank Alan Sherman for that opportunity.

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I had great box seats thanks to @Belfet Saturday and a great view of the starting gate thanks to @FulghamTim. I’ve never met more generous people than the ones I have met here in our horse racing community. @AskRubenHow2Bet and @starting_gate were superb hosts Friday thru Sunday. Please, people, ask them both how to bet!

Robin with Santa Anita assistant starter Tim Fulgham.
Robin with Santa Anita assistant starter Tim Fulgham.
Robin with Laffit Pincay Jr. (left) and Joe Talamo (right).
Robin with Laffit Pincay Jr. (left) and Joe Talamo (right).
Another fun photo taken by Robin of some of the other jockeys at Santa Anita.
Another fun photo taken by Robin of some of the other jockeys at Santa Anita.

I also played my second Pick 4 Sunday and had a live ticket until the last leg. I have to say what a thrill it is to watch your horses run that you played on your ticket. Where have you been, Robin? I ran into @joefundmee and @starting_gate. Bailey is such a generous host for @santaanitapark. We then watched the last race together of the Pick 4. I lost the last leg of my Pick 4 as Bailey yelled for the winner Moonie all the way to the finish line. I should have known not to leave off a Square Eddie filly on my ticket in her presence. Next thing I know she is dragging @Joefundmee and I into the winner’s circle with Moonie! I had the chance to meet @Mario_GUTIEREZ. He shook my hand and gave me a hug. One of my favorite jockeys and I was enamored. That was a fun experience.

Robin takes a photo with Mario Guttierez.
Robin takes a photo with Mario Gutierrez.

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Bailey then took me to get the picture of the winner’s circle. I picked one up of Chrome too which I did not even know I could get. Huge score! She then pointed me towards the “Dungeon”. I had no idea it even existed. Los Alamitos horse players heaven. I have to say the energy displayed there was exhilarating and very entertaining. I love the quarters and placed my bets. I actually did really well and recouped some losses. I have to say it is one of the best times I have ever had at the track. I should have just made the trip to Los Alamitos but would have missed the “Dungeon”. Smart choice.

A day at the track is always better than no day at the track and it is always better with friends. My hopes are high for California Chrome and @EspinozaVictor in the future. I wish them my best.  See you again at the Breeders’ Cup, Chrome.

We thank Robin for sharing her story on DanonymousRacing.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @Rblifeisgood. 

5 thoughts on “Why We Love This Game — Written by Robin Buchanan”

  1. So glad I could meet you Robin, and all the other enthusiastic horse racing fans from Twitter that came out that weekend to see California Chrome. Thanks for sharing your experience at Santa Anita Park with all of us. Can’t wait to see you back for Breeder’s Cup!

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