Saratoga Horse Racing

Have You Shivered Today? Watch this ad for the Dubai World Cup.

I am up to my eyeballs in deadlines today--which is precisely why I need to take a break, and write about something that reminds me why I do what I do.

Allow me to take you to into a timewarp--we're going to visit a land and time that's both far away, yet occurs at this very moment.  The land is Dubai, and the time is 5,000 years ago.  

This is how I see it unfolding: God had decided that it was time for "horseness," to borrow Plato's concept of The Land of the Forms--it was time for horseness to make its debut on the Earth.  He'd fiddled and faddled, tweaked and molded, and gotten the prototype of The Horse.  Finally, in His infinite Wisdom, the Almighty came up with Perfection.  On that day, on a wind-swept, sun-drenched desert in the Middle East--He breathed life into its forward-facing nostrils, and dropped The Horse.  And that horse looked exactly as she does today--that horse is the purebred Arabian...

You can see them, can't you?  Beautiful, swift, sturdy as tanks--in every horse color.  Long manes dancing in the wind--which, according to Bedouin insight--that wind of Heaven blew straight through their ears.  They're charging forward, not intimidated at all by the deep, hot sands beneath their hooves.  Their riders are wearing white and a sea of jewel-tones.  Their reins are decorated in gold, and silver--these heavenly messengers deserve to be adorned as the Angels, themselves.  As this mighty cavalry pounds toward their destination, we humble observers are overwhelmed, for we have been allowed to witness a glimpse into the majesty, mystery and glory of God.

Now our journey through time brings us to the present, and to the future--nine days hence.  Today is March 22, 2012, and nine days from now, the Dubai World Cup will take place.  The Dubai World Cup isn't just any old raceday: the world's greatest horses will come together to give a show like none other, and to vie for purses that are, well, heavenly.

(My deep admiration for HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, is no secret.  He's the power and passion behind the Dubai World Cup.  He's a brilliant horseman, whose aftercare program for his horses should be emulated by every horse owner on Earth.  I fantasize about writing a book about his theories of horsemanship...)

HH Sheikh Mohammed is a genius in so many arenae:  he has vision, and he creates only The Best.  Meydan, the race course at which the DWC takes place, is unlike anything on the planet.  (From what I've heard and seen on the Web--one of these years, I'll be there for the Cup.  And then, every year thereafter.)  And he hires only The Best:  everyone involved with Meydan and the DWC are professionals, and people of vision.  If you wonder why and how the world is drawn to the brilliant city in the desert--it's in large measure to the extraordinary team that His Highness entrusts with his interests.

One of those team members is Fadi Izzaldin.  Fadi is the Creative Director/Executive Producer/Director of the single-most magnificent ad I've ever seen, in my entire life, about horse racing.  Fadi works for Dubai Media Incorporated, and with a stellar team of creatives and technical genii, took the assignment--to make an ad for the Dubai World Cup--and turned out nothing short of art.  (I am sick to death of seeing ads in America for junk--video war games; puerile movies--you know whence I speaketh.  Ad junky ads, at that.)

When Leslie Gicewicz of the Arabian Jockey Club emailed the link to the DWC ad to me, I thought, that's nice.  I'll watch it, just because I'm obsessed with the UAE and horse racing there.  And I do so want to attend the Dubai World Cup, one of these years.

I clicked the link--and my perception of advertising--and the possibilities--was changed, forever.  Oh, that American Thoroughbred horse racing could create an ad or series of ads as compelling, beautiful and mighty as this!  (I would work one-on-one with any racing entity that wants to make actual art in advertising. The Sport of Kings needs royal advertising--our horses deserve nothing less.)

I don't want to give too much away--you need to watch this video for yourself, and then send it to everyone you know.  All I will tell you is that Fadi and team came up with a concept, then a script, then colors, sights and sounds that move the human soul.  The music perfectly fits every second of this ad, that lasts but one minute and eight seconds.  I could watch an extended version--oh, say, an hour or two--but I fear that my heart would stop dead from bliss.

The percussion in the music captures every note of power given off by the horses' hooves.  The strings and vocals build this ad toward a throbbing build-up that terminates in a sudden--percussive--eight-beat "BOOM!!!"

And the horses--the absolutely otherworldly, sexily-muscled, powerful--there's that word again--gorgeous, dish-faced, high-tailed horses--yes, they're all Arabians.  Not Thoroughbreds.  (This is not a knock on Thoroughbreds--you should know me better than that by now.)  But you see, while most Americans think that the Dubai World Cup is just about our beloved Thoroughbreds--the very first race on the card is the Dubai Kahayla Classic, Sponsored by EMAAR.  (The race goes off at 4:30PM UAE Time--8:30AM Eastern Time in the U.S.)  

It's symbolic that the Arabians race first on Dubai World Cup Day, March 31st--as they were the first racehorses, ever.  The Dubai Kahayla Classic Sponsored by EMAAR is the foundation, if you will, for all the marvelous Dubai World Cup races that will follow.  (I don't have to tell you, but I will,  that every Thoroughbred on Planet Earth has to have Arabian DNA, going back to the three foundation sires--to legally trace their pedigrees on both sides to at least one of those three great males--in order to register as a Thoroughbred.)

So.  The Dubai World Cup, one of the most thrilling race days of the entire year, kicks off with a race of the greatest Arabians.  And in the 13-hole, TM Fred Texas will race for his owner, Qatar's gracious HH Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al-Thani, trained by Mohammed Al Attiya.  Why is TM Fred Texas significant?  Because that gorgeous gray--previously owned by Sam Vasquez and trained by Ron Martino and Juan Antonio Ascencio--just galloped away with the Horse of the Year Award--and Champion Four-Year-Old Colt Award at the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival Darley Awards (the Eclipse Awards for Arabian racing)--in Houston, Texas, on March 4th.  (And HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi is to Arabian racing as HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is to Thoroughbred racing--a hero, a passionate owner, breeder and promoter of his breed and the sport.)

I'd like to note, also, that I was blessed to see TM Fred Texas win the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Arabian Cup Open Stakes (G2) at Delaware Park last July 2nd.  And I cried like a baby as he thundered toward home--it was the first time I'd ever seen Arabians race, live--and I saw in the dominance of his stride and the authority with which he hit home--all the glory of his desert fathers and mothers--I was transported back 5,000 years.  In that crystalline moment, I Got It.  I understood, with all my being, why the fuss about Arabians.

And you'll Get It, too, when you watch that ad for the Dubai World Cup.  There's a reason why Fadi Izzaldin chose Arabians for this work of art.  The history of the breed; its connection to the region--and its seminal, essential role in the creation of the Thoroughbred--all will be understood as soon as you watch that ad--no, scratch that--as soon as you feel the ad.  You will experience God's own tympani, every time one of those marvelous Original Racehorses steps foot, accompanied by the most compelling music ever put to hoofbeat.

I want to experience horse racing in every place in the Middle East:  the UAE, Oman, Qatar--so many beautiful places, populated by beautiful people, all of whom Get It when the topic of Horse comes up.  I want you to understand why I love and respect these First Horsemen and their deeply-rooted, historic connection to our treasured Thoroughbred.  It all started with The Arabian.  You cannot watch this ad and not feel your heart, your imagination and your very soul leap out of your chest.  And now, dear Thoroughbred racing friends--now, I'm'll watch the ad a couple hundred times, as have I...and your thirst to watch the Dubai Khayala Classic Sponsored by EMAAR will be whetted.  If you can't be in Dubai, just turn on your TV, and feel antiquity racing toward you.  

And maybe, just maybe--you'll decide to meet me at an Arabian race right here in the United States.  They're a track near you, in the very near future.


LINK to The Best Horse Racing Ad Ever Created:

P.S.  If anyone asks?  That lady's villa in Dubai, with the lovely garden--just down the road from fabulous downtown Dubai, and within eyeball range of Meydan?  If anyone asks, yes, I'll be happy to live there, just gimme the keys.

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M.E. Altieri

Marion Altieri is a horse racing
life-long fan
radio show- and TV-show hostinista and
Her website, will bring together URLs for this blog with her radio, TV and online magazine publishing endeavors. The 'site also will feature a Marketplace, Community and opps to exchange ideas about women in racing; equine welfare and rights and ways to make the sport both more nurturing for horses and more egalitarian for females.

First a wordsmith, Marion is acutely aware of the power of language: as we speak and write, so we live. If language has the power to start and end wars, so too it has the power to save the lives of horses

A f!lly is not a little grrrl horse: a f!lly is a Force of Nature, and through her work, Marion hopes to help reinforce this powerful Truth.


Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga

The Thoroughbred is a distinct, created breed of horse. Saratoga Springs, New York is a unique, pristine city in Upstate New York.

Put the two together, Thoroughbreds and Saratoga, and you have America's most prestigious, lushly beautiful and important racing meet. For six weeks every summer, the world's best horses, jockeys and trainers come together to compete for trophies, cash and fame.

In this blog, we'll discover All Things Thoroughbred and the lovely international community of horsepeople, both professionals and fans, alike who set up camp in this city. Some come for six weeks, only. Others are here from April through November every year, when the Oklahoma's open. Yet others trek to town to race their mighty steeds—then fall in love with the place; buy a home and move here.

The Saratoga racing family of humans and horses is a year-round endeavour. You think that all the horses all go elsewhere after Labor Day? Then this blog is for you, too.

(Is the reference, "the Oklahoma" lost on you? Stay tuned, you'll feel like a pro in no time.)

Welcome to the only experience on Earth that can boast of such otherworldly beauty and heart-stopping thrills, all in the same breath: Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga.