From the Clouds: A Personal Essay and Remembrance During Breeders’ Cup

From the Clouds: A Personal Essay and Remembrance During Breeders’ Cup Week

Breeders’ Cup weekend can stir up many different emotions from past events and occurrences.

Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 • 6:40 PM ET

The pageantry at Churchill Downs is unlike many venues in horse racing.

I remember asking her, “Why did you like that horse so much?”

“It’s her running style,” she replied. “She always comes from the clouds and people think she can’t do it.”

I should’ve known, look for those that come from the clouds.

That was TT, always unexpected but a person full of verve and energy — so much so that she was such a joy to be around. I knew her for almost 14 years and in that time, I found her to be a loving wife to my best friend Steve, the consummate supporter through good and rough times. And may I say, Steve was one damn good handicapper of horses.

This past September, we lost TT to cancer; and as early November approaches, we miss her greatly. It’s funny how the cycle of a horse racing season brings such a flood of memories, but that’s what sport does, I suppose.

We associate certain times of the year with those that we come to care for and love. For horse racing fans, the first weekend in November is particularly special because it’s the annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships, a two-day event that has become one of the highlights of the year aside the Triple Crown.

Nestled among football at every level, the World Series and the beginning of the NHL and NBA seasons, the Breeders’ Cup seems to precipitously arrive. But for Steve and TT, it was a reason to celebrate, as they were married on Breeders’ Cup weekend.

When I first encountered them, I immediately admired their marriage. They were two people that were very much in love and willing to support one another at all costs. In their kitchen, their cabinets were covered in photos of tracks they visited and lives they touched. TT was the consummate host at Breeders’ Cup parties, and she always had my pistachios and coffee at the ready.

She loved to handicap races, and the three of us competed in mock tournaments over the course of successive weekends. She always found the sleeper, the horse that was sitting on a big race. I knew if TT liked one of my horses, I had a shot.

Her all-time favorite horse was the Breeders’ Cup champion mare, Zenyatta. Named after one of The Police’s hits, this horse was unbelievable to watch. She downed some Guinness Stouts and oats a few days before the race — her jockey Mike Smith would ease her back after the break against some of the best horses in the world — and she effortlessly mowed down the field with absolute precision.

As the Breeders’ Cup approaches this week, my thoughts are with Steve; the memories we shared are robust and vivid. As we look forward to the sea of purple on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs, the site of this year’s races, I think about how the past comes into focus. Moving forward, we will be reminded of TT’s words, to look to the clouds, in more ways than one.

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