Instead of running for the roses, Big Brown paced himself in slo-mo fashion for other plants, all of which he deemed edible. Perhaps if I’d been wearing purple and green silks or called him “California Brown,” my horse might have exhibited a bit more fleetness — especially on Preakness day.
We were nowhere near a track (perhaps another reason for Big Brown’s dismissal of any sense of urgency), but rather on a trail in the Tijuana River Valley. I was riding with my friend Kathy; two recent acquaintances, Josh and Ajay; and our San Diego Beach Rides guide, Veronica.
Kathy and another friend, Barbara, were visiting from out of town and we were enjoying the weekend at Pier South in Imperial Beach, not far from San Diego Beach Rides.
Although I regretted my lack of visual contact with a big-screen television during the running of the Preakness that afternoon, I did make visual contact with Tijuana. I wondered at that point if Big Brown might make a run for the border for some cerveza to wash down the cornucopia of vegetation he was consuming. But he stayed right behind his pal, Oreo, who was bearing Josh on his back. Or maybe he was staying in line because of Patty, who was behind us and proving to Kathy that she could out-eat any of her male counterparts.
Happy Trails also offers rides that include a stretch of the beach, but that is a two-hour commitment that our schedules precluded, even without frequent stops for munching (assuming Big Brown and Patty could resist the lure of fresh seafood).
We were on the backstretch (that is, past the halfway point and heading back to the stables), when I noted the time on my watch and announced, “And they’re off!” This announcement fell on deaf ears insofar as our equine friends were concerned. No matter — it was only a few minutes later when I announced, “Well, it’s over.”
Josh and Kathy and I were particularly giddy about the likelihood of a triumphant showing by California Chrome. Who can resist the charm of his backstory as a horse that lacked the breeding expected of a Triple Crown contender and that cost his owners a mere $8,000 to buy?
While I was on horseback during the Preakness, SDH/GL’s Managing Editor Eva Ditler happened to be in the lounge at Croce’s Park West. She told me there was an abundance of energy in the room when the crowd watched California Chrome win the race by one and a half lengths. She also admitted that she was more entertained by the people in the room than by the race itself.
Now I’m giddy over the possibility that we’ll have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. So during this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, expect to find me among the sports bar revelers.
In any event, whichever horse ends up draped in a blanket of white carnations, he had best steer clear of the insatiable Big Brown and Patty.