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This isn't a decision I've come to lightly, but after giving it nearly a month of thought, I've come to the conclusion that LJ no longer meets my needs. I'm sad to let it go, considering how much time and money I've spent here, but at this point in time, I feel it's the most appropriate choice. I won't be deleting my account, and I will continue reading and commenting on the few parts of my flist that are still active, but unless something changes drastically in the future, I can't imagine that I'll be posting new content here.

For those of you who've made (or are going to make) the jump to Dreamwidth, I am still updating there under this same name (thedarkmaterial). If you're also using the same name there as here, feel free to add me and I'll do the same for you; and if it's a name I won't recognize, just let me know who you are via a comment on a public entry or a DW message. ^_^

As I've imported all of my older entries and comments to DW as well, I've disabled further comments on entries here (I wanted to leave them open for this entry, but unfortunately it's none or all :/). If you're not on DW and need to find me, there are links to both my Instagram account and my personal webpage in the sidebar, or you can email thedarkmaterial [at] emn [dot] 33mail [dot] com (that's a forwarding address for reasons of Canned Meat, but it'll get you there).

So long, LJ, and thanks for all the fish.


Fucking Arrogate. Fucking Ar-ro-gate.

(And I hate that I hate him, because he is a good horse and that was bloody amazing. He's got his Dubai win now. Broke badly, dead last, had to go wide, and somehow he still pulled it off by lengths. But I just can't love him. Not after what he did to my Chromie!)

[ y o u r h o o v e s :: m y h e a r t ]

Ten years.



He was nowhere. Nowhere. He matched Arrogate at the beginning, but then they hit the stretch, and suddenly he just started losing more and more ground. I saw Victor look behind him and was almost wondering if Chrome had taken a bad step and Victor might pull him up, but it looked like he finished and was trotting out, so...I don't know. I don't know. Even Mike Smith is saying, "That's not the California Chrome I know. He would have been right on top of me." Victor had to give him a few taps on the way to the gate but once he was THERE he went in, so... I don't know. I just don't know.

It was Arrogate, of course.

"The worst finish in his 27-race career."

Oh, my Chromie.

One more fairytale

One more new world fairytale, that's all about the glitter and gold, and not a lecture about wolves and the wood.

One more happy ending.

(But how many are you allowed to have?)

I remember saying during last year's Dubai Cup that it was like America on overdrive; everything had to be the biggest, the richest, the best. And then someone in America said, "Whaaat? No. We need one that'll put even this to shame!" And now we've got the Pegasus Cup, where buy your slot a year in advnce whether you've got a horse or not, and if you don't run 1-2-3, you won't even come close to making your money back.

But Chromie's in it, so that's okay.

He's back up against Arrogate, Baffert's big grey monster who nicked him in the Classic last year. As far as anyone, everyone's concerned, it's a two-horse race. Everyhorse else is just along for the ride. Arrogate has post 1, so he'll be able to save ground on the inside (but the rail, sometimes that's where they'll box you in). He'll have to break clean and fast to avoid the traffic. Chrome goes from post 2. He'll may be clear, but he'll have to travel wide and make up ground, and horses don't win from post 12 at Gulfstream (or at least, not often).

(But he's not any horse.)

(You want it because you love him, because you always have, because you always want them to go out on top, but you want it to to show them this is why you let them run past three, this is why you don't yank them off the track as soon as they'll start making good money for the shed; this is why you give us someone to love for so long, and we'll prove that we'll love them that long, too.)

And you know. You know what tomorrow is.

So let me have one more shine (and then we can find a new diamond).

(Related, or not: Chrome's dam, Love the Chase, foaled a Tapit colt a few days ago. He is CUTE. Got the craziest lightning bolt blaze down his face. So she'll be bred again, soon - and she's going to Pioneer of the Nile. Pharoah's daddy. Someday, somewhere, there's going to be a horse who's a half-sibling to both Chrome and Pharoah.)

Twenty minutes out. Chrome's coming down, saddle already on. And there's Arrogate. They're co-favourites, both at even money.

(There are some exceedingly stupidly commercials promoting the Cup. I feel like they're a joke I'm supposed to get, but I don't.)

Riders up, and it's like a bell for Pavlov's dogs (or the opening gate). I hear it and my heart starts racing.

And call to the post. They come onto the track, post parade - (Hey! Is that Smokey with Arrogate?) - and there it is, the screaming for Chrome.

The sun's going down, gold through the trees.

Arrogate's the new favourite. Chrome just behind.

(Oh, that HAS to be Smokey. His mane is full of Juddmonte-coloured puffs lolol.)

(...I'm sorry, whut? Did they just say Arrogate's running with a special shoe because he has, or had, an abcess? The fuck!)

Up to the gate.

He goes in clean. And off.

[ c r a z y . d i a m o n d ]

Moment of the Year - Dubai World Cup (Alchemy, as Chrome turns to gold...)
Older Dirt Male
Horse. Of. The. Year.

Chrome. Forever.

(Though I think somewhere between Older Dirt Male and HOTY, Perry went back to the table and started drinking his nerves away. lol.)

One more. One more week, one more run...

(be)Late(d) Run

The race was made for him. Not in the sense that it was the perfect race for him to run in, but because the track added it to their program speciically for him. Because his trainer wanted a prep race before his final start, and because even though it's his home track, where he trains, he's never run in a race there. His fans come out to see him in the mornings, but they've never had the chance to see him cross the wire there when it counts. It wasn't about money (the tiniest of purses), and it wasn't about the competition (his trainer was worried no one would want to take him on, in fact, and the track promised a payout to any horse that met him there). It was purely about letting him say goodbye to the place and the people who love him. Because when he leaves that stall in a few weeks, for the brand-new race that pays even more than Dubai gold, he won't ever come home again.

It was only 4:30, but the sun was already sinking low, and as he came onto the track for post parade, a shaft of sunlight fell between the cracks, lighting up the heads of both horse and his pony. Then it widened, so that it covered him wholly, and one more time, Chrome turned to gold. Molten metal, liquid fire, and oh, how he   s h o n e.

(There was never any question that he would hit the wire first. The next-lowest odds were around 30-1 and most of the field was 99-1, even at the post. They were horses who probaby couldn't have beaten him on their best day even if he was having his worst day. But it wasn't about that. You were running for second not because you came to lose, but because even if you didn't win, it was a honour to be on the track with him. To know that the next time someone looked at your horse's past performace, they'd see you once took on California Chrome.

And he left them in the dust, like everyone knew he would. Los Al is a tiny track - the attendance, even for Chromie, was a little over 5K. But every voice there was for him, raised like the glory given a pharaoh, because even if he doesn't wear that crown, out there, he's his own kind of king. He set a new track record, and the record his broke was the one set just this year, in the race that was named for him.)

In January he'll go to Gulfstream for the Pegasus Cup, a race that costs a million dollars just to think about a run. It's not done on performane, like the Derby - you have to buy your way in. If things play out the way people want them to, if Arrogate's connections can find someone who'll sell or lease or just give them their slot, then he'll have that showdown with Arrogate again. And then, no matter whose nose is in front - he's done. He'll go on to stud, and as far as I know, actually start standing for the season next year, right after he retires

He's six. They gave us so much more time with him than most owners of that caliber of horse would. He's the richest racehorse in North America - not just right now, but ever; he's made of chrome and gold and fire and fury, and he was born almost from nothing. He's got one more race in him, a race named for a horse with wings, but he - he can fly without them.

(Someone almost got punched in his filthy mouth today, too, for saying I abandoned Chrome for Pharoah. I n-e-v-e-r. Pharoah's year on was Chromie's year off, so I mercifully never even had to think about who I'd choose. Pharoah may be my king, but Chrome still has his hooves planted firmly in my heart.)

- shine for me -

I made it all the way to call to the post without my nerves sproinging apart like overtightened wires. But now everyone's saddled and up and turning onto the track, and there isn't quite enough oxygen in this room.

Chromie's already the richest-ever North American racehorse. If he wins this, he'll be the richest in the world. Ever.

Frosted's here. Keen Ice. Most people think the horse with the best chance of pulling an upset is Arrogate, who won the Travers by miles and miles and is trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith (who has three previous Classic wins, including Zennie, and twenty-four BC wins altogether). Baffert would be the first trainer to win three Classics and consecutive at that, but... Sorry, Bob. Can't love you today.

(But everybody loves Chrome.)

They're back at Santa Anita this year. The sun is setting and the mountains turn to gold.

(Next year, it'll be at Del Mar for the first time. They'll be running to the ocean when they turn for home!)

They're coming to the gate, and he looks like he's made of liquid.

(Is Arrogate a grey? He's a very strange shade of dark, with a roany kind of face.)

...he was so close. So close. He went nearly wire to wire. And Arrogate got him at the end. Just right there, right before the wire. Not as close as the Distaff, not a photo finish, but...just enough. By a neck. And then a million miles back to the rest of the field.

He'll have one more race, the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup, in January. And THAT will be the richest race in the world, because one of the groups over here said, "Hey, let's make a race that's even richer than Dubai and see if we can get Chrome for it." So he could still go out in glory, just like Beholder, and he lost nothing in defeat, just like Songbird.

But this one, oh... This one hurt.

Argh head-bobs

On the way back to the barn after winning last year's Belmont Oaks, an unbeaten turf horse named Lady Eli stepped on a nail and developed laminitis in both front feet. Life-threatening for any horse (we know that all too well, don't we); for a racehorse, almost certainly career-ending.


It wasn't. She beat the laminitis, she came back from a year-long layoff and ran second her first race back, won her second, and...

Just got beaten by half a nose in the Breeders' Cup. X_x (Not that anyone is any less proud of her, because holy shit amazing to come back and race again at all, let alone race like that. It's just very immediately familiar. ^^' )

European turf horses. Ugh. >_> (Turf racing is bigger over there than it is here, I think, and when they come over for ours, they kick our asses. A lot. But sometimes we go over and kick theirs on the dirt HI TEPIN!)

(She was very far back, too. For a while I was afraid she might get boxed in. But when the jockey let her go, oh, did she go.)

All hail the Queens.

Beholder over Songbird, by a fraction of a nose. They hit the wire together for a photo finish, and it came down to nothing more than a matter of whio had the head-bob at just the right time. If it had been any closer, it could have been a dead heat. Which would have ben awesome, because then neither would have to lose. >_> But both my girls, on top together - I'll take it.

So Beholder goes out in glory, but Songbird loses nothing in defeat - this was her first time racing against older horses, her first time really tested, and until Gary let Beholder go, Songbird was on the lead, the effortless pace. And even when Beholder pulled up beside her, she didn't give an inch. Not even the inch Beholder got at the wire. She made Beholder, a champion for five years straight, work for that victory as hard as any horse has ever worked, and the two of them beat the rest of the field, three-year-olds and older mares alike, by open space. (Maybe not as much open space as there could have been! But enough for me to gloat or the both of them. ^.^)

("Thank you," are Gary Stevens' first words to Trainer Richard Mandela after an incredible Distaff win with Beholder.)

("She put Songbird away three different times, and each time Songbird just kept coming back," rider Gary Stevens says. "She laid her heart out on the racetrack." He says she might be the best horse he's ever ridden, and when he says it, you can tell how much he really loves her, how special she really is.)

(More Stevens: "It was a quarter of a mile street fight.")

(From trainer Richard Mandella/Beholder: "I don't know what I did to deserve her." [He also made a joke about getting her beat a few times to add suspense, roffle. He's apparently got a reputation for not being overly verbose when he's been interviewed, but when he does have something to say, it's usually something like that. XD])

Wonderful, beautiful, monsters of mares, the both of them. Beholder will go on to make champion babies, now (oh, how I'll hope she'll be bred to Pharoah and Chrome <_<), and Songbird will step into the role of heir apparent to Queen B's throne. She'll be four next year, older and stronger, and she should just keep getting better.

Stellar Wind, who's a good horse in her own right and beat Beholder in two of her three recent defeats (Chrome was the other, so no shame there, either), was the potential spoiler. but she broke badly, slowly, and that was it for her as far as the win goes. To beat Beholder and the Bird, you've got to be up there. You can't make any mistakes, lose any ground. But she did rally for fourth.

Word is that Corona Del Inca, the longest shot in the field, was pulled up and has a condylar fracture. You hate that, to mar such an otherwise perfect day. It's not necessarily a death sentence, like it used to be, or even necessarily a career-ender, but... It could be. I haven't been able to find anything else on her yet. I hope she'll be okay.

Tomorrow's the big one. @.@ #Chromie4Life!

Silent Stones

And I was watching, of course, when Rosetta reached 67P and released little Philae to settle gently down.

But it didn't happen like that, not exactly. Philae bounced when he landed - more than once - and when he actually did land, he landed wrong, so that his antenna was down and his solar panels not quite able to catch the sun. For almost two years, they weren't even sure where he came down. He tried calling home once more, and we talked to him as long as we could, and then he lost his voice again.

Rosetta's near the end of her mission, now, and earlier this month, they were finally able to figure out where he is: Wedged into a niche on the part of the comet they call Abydos (because everything about the mission had a Kemetic name, see). Abydos was the city of dead kings, and that's where he'll rest now, too. (It's almost like Someone planned that.)

Though when I say "near the end of her mission", tonight, I mean literally within hours of the end. Last night. ESA sent the first of the commands to adjust her trajectory, her altitude, to patch the software that will shut her down when she, too, comes to rest with Philae. She'll send data back - and pictures! - until the very end, until the moment she touches down, and then a final safe mode command from the patched software will "passivate" her, so that she won't be able to send out signals that might contaminate/confuse future missions listening to that part of the sky. She'll sleep forever, with little Philae, though I don't know how close to him she'll actually be. They've picked a landing site for her, but who knows if that's where she'll actually settle? And we might not ever even know, because we won't have anything there to see for us anymore. We only saw it through her eyes, and now they'll be closed.

(And as much as I love the "connected" aspects of modern missions, that let everyone be part of it, they make it harder, too - at least for me - because the people back on Earth, we give them personalities, you know? Someone at ESA is tweeting for Rosetta and Philae, AS Rosetta and Philae, the same way someone at NASA tweets for Oppy and Curiosity and Hubble. You know how I keep saying if anything has an egregore soul, it's all those brave little rovers? I'm quite sure the personalities become part of that, too, because that's what we come to believe in. So Curiosity tells us what she did today, and Philae calls home to check in and say goodnight, and even the little Chinese moon probe said goodbye when she went dark. And now Rosetta does, too, and I am the kind of unashamed space dork who is absolutely going to cry.)

- and oh my god, gaiz, this tweet, this tweet JUST came through:

(Earlier, she said, "I'm going to be so busy later, but I don't want to miss the chance to say, 'So long, and thanks for all the tweets!'" ;_; )

(Have we named anything for Douglas yet? You'd think I'd know. We need to name everything for him.)

Hold your towel tight, Rosetta. You're so close now...

(Philae's last tweet was on my birthday, though they found him a few days before. Still...)

And now, there are only moments to go. The last command has been sent, by the original project manager. An hour left in the mission itself, but she'll touch down before that. It's just going to take another forty minutes or so for us to confirm the last signal from her - to confirm that there's no longer any signal at all.

Revised landing time: 11:39:08 UTC. She's coming down. She's coming down now.

brb, gonna use taking Layla out as an excuse to go outside and salute the sky, say goodbye.

- and that's it. Somewhere so far away, she's tucked herself in for the longest night. And all the other missions, all the brave little rovers and probes, their hands back on Earth are writing in to wish her well. The rest of us, we're just waiting now. We won't sleep until we know she is.

(Aww. I'm watching the ESA stream, and someone asked if Rosetta would bounce when she came down. The answer was basically, "We don't know, we won't know, we don't have any way to know," but the lady conducting the interview said, "I like to think she'll bounce and just keep bouncing until she reaches Philae, and they'll be reunited." [The response to that was that it was a long way to go - so I guess she's not coming down that close to him - but it's space, so anything can happen.])

Five minutes to confirmation. They've gone quiet in the press room, so that these last moments are in silence for her. And now they're showing the signal receiver at mission control, so we can all see when it drops. Stops.

...and there it went. Right on the dot, to scattered soft applause.

Good night, Rosetta. Sleep well. Dream for all of us.

(On a related note. Anyone love me enough to get me this? >_>)



So apparently they've completely redone Pottermore. (I went back because there's a Patronus quiz now.)

And I couldn't remember my old username or what email I signed up with before, so I made a new account.

And got reSorted.


I knew that Slytherin BS was wrong. >_> <_< >_>

Not to knock my Slytherin friends, or anything. I just didn't spend literal years on that Ravenclaw scarf to be Sorted somewhere else. ¬_¬

God I'm bored.

Junope. And yep.

So last year's Independence Day-saster (redneck neighbours in three directions, fireworks until midnight and beyond, having to ask my mom to rescue me so I wouldn't have a complete sensory breakdown)?

Fireworks are legal out here, too, but not within the city limits, so I thought maybe it'd be okay.

Nnnnope. They've been setting them off for four days straight, though tonight was the worst - it started around six, and by eight had ramped up so far Michael ended up calling the cops. Which I was not thrilled about, because Issues With Cops and not wanting the neighbours to know who ratted on them, but BOTH of us were having a panic attack. The jackasses across the street from us were doing basically every wrong thing with them you can imagine - inside city limits, letting their kids handle them, setting them off IN the street so that in one case, it fell over and shot off under the cars... (He was watching and taking pictures/video evidence through the window.) The cops made a two-car drive-by, but whoever they rolled up on said, "Nah, it's not us, it's someone else!", the cops went on their merry way, and they started right back up.

He called back for a follow-up, and that time, the officer came over to talk to us, so so much for anonymity. He was very nice and sympathetic about it, but it basically came down it, "We can't do much to help you, unfortunately. We have SO many problems around this holiday, because they're NOT legal, but all we can do is cite them and ask them to stop - we're not allowed to confiscate the fireworks, and most of them will just pay the fine so they can keep on going. The people you called us about may alredy have been cited tonight, in fact. They make us get hard evidence for even that much, like catching them IN the act of lighting it/setting it off, and since it's dark and they can just hold off if they see us coming..."

So, yay for nice cops, but boo for nice cops who aren't allowed to help the people they'd like to help. ~_~

We ended up doing a Wal-Mart run and driving around for a little while, and we even thought about going to the city-sponsored show over the river (because even though we're both bothered by the noise, what triggers it more with the "jackass neighbour" displays is the "don't know when it's coming/can't get away from by going home/safe place invasion" aspect), but it turned out to have started right about the time we left the house and was over by the time we got out there, though we did see the very last one.

When we got home - and mind you, this was probably 10:30 - the people aross the street, with all the kids, had stopped, but some of the others were still going, on and off until AGAIN at least one am. Da fuck.

And it ended up kind of ruining MY planned Fourth of July celebration, becaue... Hello, Juno. Welcome home. Welome to Jupiter. We're in orbit with this new camera, snd it's already taken suh a beautiful video - it was from further out in the approach, about three million miles, and it's of the Galilean moons circling their king over a seventeen-day period. We dn't have anything else like this; we have still pictures and an incomplete video of Earth and our moon that Juno also took, but we've never had video of an entire system orbiting before. It's amazing. (Cried. Not ashamed.) The mission is called Juno because in Roman mythology, Juno was Jupiter's wife, who used her magic to peer through the clouds and see what her husband was up to, and that's what our Juno will do for us. There are LEGO FIGURES on board, custom minifigs of Jupiter with thunderbolt, Juno with a magnifying glass, and Galileo with his telescope. (I hope you're looking down and smiling, Galileo. I hope you're living vicariously through your little Lego man.)

And I watched it, I just didn't get to watch ALL of it. I missed some of the beginning maneuvers when we had to make our calmdown run. It wasn't a landing - just an orbital insertion - and Juno can't take images when it's downlinking with us, so we didn't get to watch live what it was seeing as it came in; it was just the feed from mission control, the scientists and engineers and project managers who've waited so long and put so much work into this. It's when those tones come in, when Juno calls back, "Mama Earth, I made it!", when everything goes absolutely perfectly and every last man and woman at mission control comes out of their seats, cheering and clapping and crying themselves... That's our Fourth of July, and main engine burn is our fireworks. We're the American Space Agency, but we're going to make that data, those raw images, open and available to anyone who wants them, so that we can all make our own movies about our solar system's stars. (And one of the guys, oh, he was SO into the harmony of it all, "The Jupiter system is like its own miniature solar system, it's what we'd see if we pulled back to look at our sun and the planets going around it, it's what we'd see if we pulled back farther, far enough to see our sun going around the galaxy the same way. It's what we see even in the atom and the electron." And you know how I love that, everything made of starstuff and dancing together, the patterns of creation on every scale.)

She'll orbit for a little less than two years and learn everything she can, and then she'll dive into the clouds of her king and be lost in his mysteries, too.

Happy homecoming, Juno. Happy Orbital Dependence Day.

So much rain on my parade.

Belmont Day.

Not so much excitement this year with no Crown on the line, and paticularly without the Nyquist/Exaggerator reshowdown. Even I'm not as hyped as I usually am. But I'm still here.

Of course, last year is still on everyone's minds anyway - will be for who knows how long. They show Pharoah pulling ahead, crossing that wire, and it's still just like it was then, still makes me cry. (It's like Barbaro, but in a good way.)

You are my King. A-l-w-a-y-s.

Exaggerator's a nice horse. I've never said he's not. But it's hard to get on the Exaggeration train when you've been a Nyqueen for so long. It would be nice for the Desormeaux brothers if he won. Kent in particular has had a rough ride, has been suspended a few times due to alcoholism, and actually checked himself into rehab between the Preakness and the Belmont. So Exaggerator's got the heartstrings to pull, I guess. I'd kind of like to see Lani get one, just because I like those greys and I like international friends.

Suddenbreakingnews (one of three co-second favourites) was raced as gelding up through the Derby, but after he failed a post-race test for elevated testosterone levels, it was looked into and they discovered he's actually what they call a ridgling, a cryptorchid with two undescended testicles. So what they think happened was he was scheduled to be gelded, but because he looked and acted like a gelding and there were no jolly balls to be found, everyone thought it had already been done.

(A Jolly Ball is actually a toy you can buy for horses to play with. So. Horse joke. XD)

Horses in the paddock, and jockeys on the way down. Exaggerator breaks toward the outside, post 11. None of the commentators are picking him. He's run in all three, he may be tired, and aside from Pharoah, no favourite has won the Belmont since Afleet Alex in 2005. (Alex! Another of my love babies. <3) There's rain on the horizon, though, and if it hits before - or during - the race, that could be his edge.

Four living Triple Crown-winning jockeys giving the call for riders up together. Amazing.

Is that a chick doing call to the post? 0.o

Lots of grey. Destin, Cherry Wine, Gettysburg (who was entered as a rabbit for a stablemate, ugh), Lani, Creator...

Into the gate.

Gettysburg to the front, as expected. Destin just off. Exaggerator sitting back. No rain yet. Exaggerator fading, Lani's coming! Lani!

Holy crap! A three-way grey finish! Creator and Destin in a photo, Lani for third.

It's Creator! Wow. I blame the rabbit. Things never go well when there's a rabbit.

And now it rains. All over Exaggerator's not-parade. >_<

Naptime, sweet prince (but not goodnight)

Plans were for Nyquist to go ahead and run back in the Belmont, because the team wanted to stay the course even if there was no Crown on the line (which I have SO much respect for), but he ran a fever of 102 and when they pulled a white cell count, it was high, so no race for him. Not right now. He'll be back for the summer, and probably better than I ever. So it's okay. They said it, too - "We'd so much rather be dealing with this than a leg injury."

- s l i c k -

Wet over Pimlico. At Churchill, it poured before the Derby but cleared up by post time, but this is rain for an Ark, for the kind of track Pharoah would have loved. (That, from the way he ran at Santa Anita, Exaggerator loves.) Nyquist hasn't run on a truly sloppy track yet, but he HAS won at six different tracks at different lengths and on different surfaces, so his people aren't concerned. (Neither am I.)

I had my clock set for the start of the undercard, but I was so meh I couldn't be bothered, and apparently it was for the best. The Jacksons had a horse running on the turf in the fourth, a filly, and she snapped a cannon and had to be put down on the track. Another for them on Preakness Day, ten years later. I can't even.

Walking down now, connections in rain gear and horses in blankets.

Eight horses have won the Derby undefeated, six of those went on to the Preakness, and five won that, too. The one who didn't - (He didn't LOSE it, though. He just didn't FINISH. There's a difference.)

Nyquist is saddled inside, rather than on the turf - they'd planned that even before the rain - and now the jockeys come down.

He's post 3. 3 is a magic number.

Down on the turf now. The handicappers love him. There are only a couple for Exaggerator.

Riders up! And call to the post, and Maryland, My Maryland.

Baffert's out there being smirky. I am not on your side this year, Pharoah-man! Talk to me next time.

So cool, baby, with your ears up and your coat dry (of anything but rain).

Only eleven in the field. (For the Preakness, there can be up to fourteen.) Four by Uncle Mo. Uncle Lino won the inagural California Chrome stakes this year.

Nyquist and his pony (who isn't Lava Man! Da hell), trotting in perfectly-matched strides. So pretty.

Last commercial break. Moments to post. The knotting and the shaking.

The Reddam silks, with their little purple bowtie. You wear a bowtie because bowties are COOL.

(And baby I believe, I always do. I'll start a religion based on horses, like my religion based on brave little rovers, and I invoke the name of Saint Seattle Slew, the last undefeated two-year-old champion to take the Derby. To take the Triple Crown.)

So wet on the track; the jockeys pull their goggles down. The gate is here. Lani goes in first, because he is NUTS. He spent ten minutes on the track before the other horses even came out.

Nyquist goes in, almost as smooth as silk. Almost. He thought about it a little, and oh my god here we go.

(My heart, my heart. He IS the pace, and it's so fast...)

...Exaggerator. The slop, you know. And Uncle Lino pushed him all the way, all the way; I knew it when I saw him up there, on that toxic pace. He wouldn't rate. And Cherry Wine was so close at the wire, I'm not even sure if Nyqui was second or third.

Doug's taking it well. We're still proud of him.

Third. He was third.

(And Pharoah is still king...)

I will not be defeated. ~_~

Hey, so you know what ELSE I don't get out here?

NBC Sports. AKA the channel all the Derby undercard coverage is on, that's available nowhere else thanks to NBC's fucking exclusivity. We had to ask his parents for their satellite password so we could watch it online, since they do have it. ~_~ (Dish is starting continuing to piss me off - in addition to all the stuff we don't get that was basically "basic" on Comcast, they also keep switching the channels in our package with no notice - so we had Discovery Family (the channel with Friendship is Magic) for a few months, and now it's gone and we have Animal Planet (which we DIDN'T have for Puppy Bowl; only year I've ever missed it) and National Geographic. Before that, we had a channel called Ride that was all horse stuff, so...yeah.

Nyquist goes off undefeated, of course, from post 13. He's currently the favourite (which won't likely change). Mohaymen is back, Lani did come from Japan, and not only is THE Japanese jockey with him, they also sent over someone to cover it for Radio Nikkei. Creator's another grey, a horse named Whitmore is getting the, "Nobody really knows this little guy," sweetheart vote AND he's got Victor Espinoza in the saddle. Mke Smith on Danzing Candy and Gary Stevens on Mor Spirit (who's trained by Bob Baffert). Exaggerator's good (when he isn't running against Nyquist XD). Gun Runner. Every time I hear "Shagaf", I think "Shoggoth". >_> Mike Repole, who had Uncle Mo in 2011 and had to scratch the night before, has Outwork this time around, one of three sons of Mo in today's (includng Nyquist - Mo Tom is the other). Tapit's got three, too - Lani, Mohaymen, and Creator.

Rachel Alexandra's daughter Rachel's Valentina was in the Oaks yesterday, but she couldn't imitate her mother. The strong early favourite for that was a filly named Songbird, who's amazing, but she started running a fever a couple of weeks ago and they decided she wouldn't be able to make it after having to miss training. Cathryn Sophia's owners had NOT planned on running her because there were questions about whether or not she could manage the distance, but once Songbird "defected", they said, "Eh, what the hell," and dropped her name back in the hat, and, well - she managed it, alright. By daylight.

Calvin Borel retired out of nowhere a month ago. No warning. No reason (given). Just...done. Crazy.

The skies opened up over Churchill as the national anthem played, quick and fierce. The sun is back now, but a piece of debris hit one of the horses in the Woodford Reserve, who had one panic attack in the paddock (who wouldn't, after that?) and another back in his stall, and he fell there and hit his head on a concrete rail. O_o Poor baby. They say he seems to be okay, but he'll be scratched anyway.

The Woodford is the last race on the undercard, and the horses are on the track for it now. The Derby gets later and later - I remember when it used to be run around 5:30 Eastern, and now it's 6:45. (Still 5 now that I'm in Central, though. >_>)

Oh Jesus. Kasaqui just went down horribly - the horse in front of him, Triple Threat, clipped heels and stumbled badly enough that Kasaqui ran up behind and flipped over, but he got up and they both kept running, so maybe they're okay. Both the riders went down, too.

A horse ridden by Edgar Prado won that race. (Ten years and a day...)

They're all okay.

Hour to go...

Lani is apparently a right bastard who doesn't like other horses and will throw squealing kicking fits of Nope if he's too close to them, so they've brought him out early to try and keep him in line.

And now the rest start their walkover, on the way to the paddock.

Nyquist's odds haven't budged. 2-1. The bettors love him. The commentators love him. Doug o'Neill just gave him a hug. Exaggerator's behind him (as usual XD) at 5-1. Everyone else is double digits.

The horses are saddled. The jockeys are on their way down.

Riders UP!

(And I could type this with my eyes closed. Riders up, call to the post, and My Old Kentucky Home. And now the parade. Just minutes to go...)

The sun's out for good now. Track looks good. They're all just shining like silk.

Mohaymen in the gate. Nyquist. Whitmore gives a buck on the way, and they switch to the track caller and then Danzing Candy loads, and -

They're off!

YES! YES! MY BABY CAN WIN IT FROM ANYWHERE! He sat right off Danzing Candy's speed pace just like they thought he would, got passed a couple of times, Gun Runner, but then they turned for home and he turned it on, Exaggerator wanted to give him one more try but Nyqui was having none of it. None of them. And now they're doing the immediately-after on-track interview and he is SO COOL, like he didn't do a thing.

Eight for eight, and the eighth unbeaten Derby winner (was another special 8 watching out for you today? 8 and 13, this year's magic numbers). He won't be defeated, either.

Happy birthday, Barbaro.

You've been in the magazines this week - You're on the cover of Blood-Horse, in fact; an article on laminitis research and how far it's come in the years since they started the fund named after you. You were today's flashback to past winners on the Kentucky Derby Instagram.

You would have been thirteen this year. Not lucky or unlucky; thirteen itself doesn't matter at all, actually. The only reason it's a number to mark is because it's three-year-olds who run for the Crown, and that means it's ten years on. Ten years since you were an undefeated winner; ten years since you broke down - but not quite ten years since you died, yet; that comes in January (and I remember it like it was yesterday; remember the order I saw the headlines in, and how it took a few seconds for it to sink in - just like it did when Edgar pulled you up).

We have a king now - a Pharoah, really, but a king finally. And I love him. He's beautiful - a bay with a little white star, just like you - and his people are wonderful, and they say he's got the sweetest personality of any racehorse in the world. I don't mind saying he's the one we waited for, he's the reason we had to wait, but - of all the princes who came before, it's you I wonder about the most, about what might have been if what happened hadn't. I'd even have taken you losing the battle, if only you could have won the war.

Your sire died four years ago, and your dam was just retired from breeding a few weeks back. You had four brothers, in the end; two are at stud now, and two have gone on to other careers. None of them ever managed to be you - but how could they? Even if they'd been great winners themselves, they never would have been you. (La Vlle Rouge's final foal, by the way? By Bernardini. I don't even know what to say about that.)

It still hurts, after all this time. ("After all ths time?" Always. Always.) I still sit here and cry, and I think everyone else does, too. I can still recognize the Lael silks a mile away; still know that brght pink #8 cloth. I still miss you, and I still love you, and I still like to think that maybe one day, we'll meet on the other side of the bridge and we'll go for a ride - but not until after I've gone with Jens again. You're taking care of him, right? And Joey, and Tommy, and Quiz? (Or maybe Tommy's taking care of you, since he was there first. Bay racehorses, both of you, and I've always thought that's why I have such a soft spot for them. He was the first horse I rode by myself and the first horse I fell off; he was the horse who made me have to stop riding for a while, but I've never held it against him. He may not have been a champion on the track, but he never forgot how to run, did he.)

One day I'll get my Breyer back, or I'll buy it again - and then I'll put it up next to Pharoah's; my King and my king.

His grandest creation, as history will tell - that little bay horse they called the Fiend of Fair Hill.

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