Both had amazing owners that allowed this fan past the theater rope.
Honest to Pete, I'm really a nobody. I'm just a fan who loves the game, but for some reason, these owners responded to my love of their horse.
Tonight, I am celebrating owners of these magnificent thoroughbreds.
I'll start with Mr. Zayat, owner of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Mr. Zayat almost left the game last year because he was so heartbroken over Nehro. I said to him, after AP won the Triple Crown, that I was glad he stayed in the game. This generous man said the reason he stayed was because of fans like me who loved and supported his horses.
Mr. Zayat sent me American Pharoah Triple Crown shirts and hats. Just like that. A man who really has no reason to be bothered with me asked me for my address and sent me American Pharoah swag. Everytime I wear a shirt or hat, I'm always eager to share with people from whom it came.
Wouldn't you? Geez! The owner of the first Triple Crown horse in 37 years gifted me with American Pharoah swag. Wow.
But it does not end there....
Mr. Zayat gave me permission to meet American Pharoah at Saratoga. Honestly, I knew better than to try to see AP before the race. I know how things work, being that I am occasionally a working student backside.
So, the day after Travers, I asked a Twitter friend if she wanted to go with me to meet American Pharoah. She was thrilled. I was a little nervous, even though I have an OHRC license. I told my friend Terry that we would keep going until someone said no.
We made it to Barn 25 and I DM'd Mr. Zayat. He got on the phone with security and before you know it we were in front of the most amazing horse in recent memory.
Didn't he make it look so easy? AP skipped over that slop at Pimlico and he shrugged and asked us what was the big deal about winning the Belmont after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
I was so emotional approaching American Pharoah's stall. Wouldn't you be?
It was so quiet when I had my little visit with the most famous horse in the world. It was perfect.
Thank you so much, Mr. Zayat. You are one in a million.
Five years ago it was Mr. Pell who gave me access to Fly Down. Wow. I had fallen in love with this deep closer in the Dwyer Stakes. It was my first visit to Saratoga and I knew next to nothing about anything having to do with thoroughbreds, but I knew I loved Fly Down. My companion and I worked our way back to Mr. Zito's barn and stood behind the fence in front of Fly Down's stall. Mr. Zito was on the phone at the end of the shedrow and watching us. I knew better than to approach Fly Down without permission. Heck, I don't approach someone's two-bit claimer without permission.
Suddenly, a man with an elderly lady came up to Fly Down's stall and my companion said he though it was his owner.
"Mr. Pell!" I enthusiastically voiced, and he turned toward me. "May I please meet Fly Down?" I asked. He said of course, and I was under that fence like a shot, my shoulder cracking against the wood in my excitement. No time for embarrassment, I was meeting the horse that made me shake and hoarse the day previous.
I spent some amazing time with Fly Down and ended my meeting with Mr. Pell by telling him he had a magnificent horse.
Thank you, Mr. Pell. That meant so much to me.
This year, I spent enough time in Saratoga to watch Mr. Crawford of Donegal racing pass out $2. win tickets to kids hanging on the paddock fence. I heard he likes to see young faces at races. Mr. Crawford actually spends time talking to these children. Wow. What a wonderful way of reaching NextGen fans and hooking them with the thrill of rooting for a horse on your ticket. Imagine how those kids felt after Keen Ice won the Travers. Do you think they might want to come back?
I was so sad American Pharoah lost the Travers, but if he had to lose, I am glad he lost to a horse owned by such a classy man.
I watched Mr. Crawford pass out those $2. win tickets in a race a week before the Travers, for the Travers, and the day after the Travers.
Was glad he passed my way the day after Travers so I could congratulate him.
This is Saratoga, but I guarantee you there are owners at every track at every level who are just as generous and thoughtful. I've seen it elsewhere myself.
So, thank you owners, for making our game interactive.
It means a lot to fans.
See you at the races!