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Celebrating the Cup


November 6, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

Air hockey at the ENPN Zone
Owners, trainers, media and industry insiders packed both levels and the outdoor courtyard of the Los Angeles ESPN Zone on Thursday night for the Breeders’ Cup Winner’s Circle Celebration, presented by Grey Goose.

Jockeys carefully avoided the tempting buffet—or stayed close to the veggie end—and then had to jockey for position with the non-athletes at the numerous sports-themed games available throughout the facility. L.A. ladies in high heels and glitter tossed up free-shots or leaned across air hockey tables; jockeys tried a new ride behind the simulated controls of NASCAR ‘rods; trainers offered advice to the players; and prominent owners from around the world let down their guard for the night, bowling tenpins or cheering on the L.A. ladies.

TVG televised live from the event for the first couple hours, and then cleared the stage for a live band. And, no, it wasn’t R. Kelly—he was playing directly across from the party in the LA Live complex, right next to the L.A. Kings game at the Staples Center. (Parking was impossible …)

This week has seen a new man claim the title of “most recognizable trainer.” Bob Baffert still sports his unique shock of white hair and metal-rimmed glasses, making him an easy target for folks who want their pictures taken with a trainer that everyone “back home” will recognize. But now, all heads turn when the “man in black” (well, at least in a black hat …) walks into a room with his distinctive limp. Chip Woolley, out of the famous leg cast but still with a hitch in his gait that recalls his awkward-but-inspiring post-Derby dash to pick up the winning Mine That Bird, seems to be everywhere, tall, quiet, polite, accessible—a fine representative of our industry.

And, just maybe, the new “most recognizable trainer.”

Watch for him and your other favorite connections—and, of course, favorite horses—when the Breeders’ Cup races commence at 12:35 p.m. PT.