It was quite a Saturday for The Beloved and I — with two big events scheduled on the same day.
The first was one that we’d had scheduled for a while, which was watching Zenyatta race at the Del Mar Racetrack (where the turf meets the surf). Now, the Beloved is a huge fan of horses and horseracing, and I’d been sneaking into the races at (the now defunct) Garden State Park since I was in high school. Del Mar is a great place to watch the races – a fun combination of old Hollywood glamour horseracing, modern beach chic, and see-and-be-seen party. We try to go at least once during its annual session (which usually runs from July into September) – and it’s always fun.
But Saturday was really special because arguably the current Best Horse in Racing – Zenyatta – was running. Coming into the race, the six-year-old filly was 17-and-0. Never been beaten on a racetrack. Last year, she crushed the competition in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and is aiming to be one of only two back-to-back Breeders’ Cup champs. In fact, her smallest margin of victory in any race had come at Del Mar last year.The house was pretty packed and we had good seats. The Beloved and I both placed some wagers on races 2-7 and we were pleasantly (and surprisingly) ahead by the time buzz really started getting amped up in preparation for the 9th race.
If you don’t follow racing, it’s hard to understand what a rockstar Zenyatta is. People went nuts from the moment she came out of the tunnel. Cheering and screaming – and the horse eats it up. She prances and dances and swishes her tail. She knows >30,000 people have shown up to see her run.
And she did not disappoint. In a small field, jockey Mike Smith could readily follow his pretty standard strategy of hanging back and then turning on the afterburners about ¾ of the way through the race. Zenyatta ate up ground and then held off a game challenge by Rinterval to win the race by a head. Bedlam – cheers and high fives all around. Needless to say, I'm not going to cash in my Zenyatta ticket.
Smith brought the horse by the stands on a little victory parade for the fans who showered her with cheers. She pranced. We cheered. She swished. We screamed. It was thrilling and we were both hoarse (get it? nevermind) before heading off for the rest of the evening’s entertainment.
After getting out of some pretty horrendous parking lot management, we made a bee-line for Chula Vista where Toby Keith was in concert before a sold-out house.
Now, my iTunes country-music playlist wouldn’t really be all that long, but The Beloved’s cousin Dave has been Toby Keith’s drummer for more than a decade. While he was on the road this week, Dave figured out he was coming to San Diego and remembered we were in San Diego, and offered to leave some tickets at will call for us, as well as some backstage passes to hang out after the show. Sure, why not! We figured since it was a last-minute thing that our tickets wouldn’t be all that great, but Dave had us in Row 10 right in front of the stage. Okay!
What can I say about the concert? Well, we’d done a crash-course on Toby Keith hits in the morning, and I can say that he played all of them. There were a lot of songs about drinking, about girls, and about drinking with or because of aforementioned girls.
These were mostly raucous, good time songs that had the (from what I could tell, mostly drunk) crowd on its feet the entire time – dancing and belting out the lyrics along with Toby (this was in pretty sharp contrast to the polite, practiced indie ennui of the last time I went to see Death Cab For Cutie). It was loud. Like ear-ringingly loud. There were fireworks. I barely knew a single song and I had a blast.
After the big red-white-and-blue encore (which Toby shared with opening artist and mountain-of-a-man Trace Adkins), we met up with Dave and got to meet the rest of the band (though not Toby, he was off somewhere else) – who were all incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we’d enjoyed the show.
It was quite an epic Saturday that didn’t end until sometime Sunday morning, but what a lot of fun!