Part I: A Keen Plan
The Date: May 10, 2008.
The Place: Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.
The Event: $400,000 Lone Star Derby (Gr. III).
Hold onto your Whataburgers, because Bob Baffert has come to town.
Prominent horse racing trainer, Bob Baffert, annually saunters into North Texas once or twice each year, with a couple of pretty good horses. He won the Lone Star Derby in 1997 with Anet, and again in 2006 with Wanna Runner. He’s shipped in other notable horses over the years: Bob and John, Preachinatthebar, Real Quiet.
Anyway, do you know what this means?
This means that once again, I may have an opportunity to have my photo taken with the illustrious trainer.
Over the years it has been well documented that it’s been a personal endeavor to have my picture taken with Bob Baffert. Why? I do not know. All I know that there is a certain mystique associated with the Bob Baffert. Perhaps it is Bob Baffert’s rich and interesting history. Maybe it is the notion that Bob Baffert went to Whataburger once and announced that “It was delicious.” Or, quite possibly, it is just simply the way the name Bob Baffert sounds, with such happy alliteration. Bob Baffert. Bubbly Bob Baffert. Bold Bob Baffert. Blushing Bob Baffert. Bemused Bob Baffert breathlessly battled his boiled burger.
Regardless, today was the day I was going to have my picture taken with Bob Baffert. According to the Star-Telegram’s PETA-targeted turf writer and good friend to Post Parade, Gary West, Bob Baffert and his running mate, Samba Rooster, were here for the Lone Star Derby.
When I arrived at Lone Star Park this afternoon, I looked around for Super-Manager John Records. In the past, John has ensured that I received an audience with Garret Gomez, Calvin Borel, and Mario Pino just because Mario was conveniently standing around doing nothing. John has also bestowed little treats (read: ice cream sundae made with a quart of chocolate sauce) to my 6-year-old, Alice. By the way, John is now Alice’s best friend, and she is probably the only 6-year-old that would like to apply for a Star Player card just so her mommy can save $5 on admission.
John Records was not there. I had no inside person to assist me on my mission.
However, I can be a creative sort. So, I went to my muse, Connie, over at the Watering Hole, and ordered a frozen margarita.
“Connie,” I asked, “do you know if someone might be able to help me out? I want to have my picture taken with Bob Baffert.”
Connie looked at me like I was speaking Pushtu. “Who?”
“Bob Baffert. You know,” I continued, “the trainer.”
“Sweetie, I don’t know who you are talkin’ ‘bout and I can’t help you. That’ll be $5.50.”
I wandered aimlessly throughout the grandstand, sipping my frozen margarita, casually watching the toteboard on the upcoming 4th race. Mindlessly placing a small wager on some unnamed longshot, all the while plotting a variety of scenarios in an effort to have my photograph taken with Bob Baffert.
And then I saw her … the Best Dressed Woman at Lone Star Park, the stylish and elegant Donna Keen. And, conveniently, she was standing next to husband, Dallas Keen, who coincidentally, is a trainer.
Hallelujah! Opportunity knocks and it’s time to introduce myself!
The couple was conferring with a third party, however, I deemed that my mission to have a picture taken with Bob Baffert superceded whatever they were discussing. I barged up to the trio with the cockiness of Demi O’Byrne.
“Hi, Donna. I want to introduce myself. I’m Sue of Post Parade.”
She beamed. “It’s so great to meet you!” She turned to Dallas, “Honey, this is the writer I told you about. She’s really very humorous and she should receive the Pulitzer Prize for her comedic prose.” Okay, she really didn’t say that, but Donna did mention that she thought Dallas should take a moment to read one or two of my entries because she thought a couple of them were a kind of funny, especially “the one where she wrote the whole story while consuming a bottle of wine.”
Dallas replied, “We like wine.”
Anyway, we enjoyed small talk about horses and racing and horse racing. Like a proud warrior, he described the brutal injury to his right hand that one of his horses recently gifted him – busted bones, stitches, pins.
I then blurted out my mission: I wanted to have my picture taken with Bob Baffert and could they help me?
Their answer was a little murky. The mere mention of Bob Baffert brought up some memories for Dallas and he began sharing anecdotes about racing days at Del Mar that included Bob Baffert in sandals, t-shirts, and other beachwear. Meanwhile, Donna had other things on her mind,
“Jamie Theriot is here today and I’m good friends with his wife. We’re just waiting on them because we’re going to dinner.”
I departed from the Keens, unsure about their availability in my quest. I had to establish another back-up plan …