By Sheryl Aronson
The Kentucky Derby took place on Sunday, May 7th. At Santa Anita Park they were celebrating Derby Day too. I had the distinct pleasure to accompany Christine Peake, of the Peakprgroup, to the races by the invitation of Santa Anita Relations Representative, Alexis Garske. This was my first time attending the races. This was my first time placing a bet. This was my first time…winning!
Entering the VIP Chandelier Room, Christine and I decided to place our bets immediately. Luckily we had a bit of help from Christine’s friend, Sammy, who lived in England, on suggested horses to pick, After placing our bets, we entered the race track area and walked down to the lower level.
Gray, cloudy skies hugged the San Bernardino Mountains seen in the distance. Green grass gleamed around the well- groomed track, large screens flashed the races for close-up views, the cacophony of the noise reverberated with spectators cheering and the sound of hooves pelting the ground. We had our bet on horse #1 and soon I was screaming along with Christine for our horse to come in. Even though we didn’t win the first time, our second choice did. I was hooked.
Our day passed swiftly. We were surrounded by finely dressed men in colorful suits and fedoras, and women swathed in bonnets decorated with feathers, with roses, with ribbons… various hat contests were conducted in the front arena and money was awarded to the winners.
When the Kentucky Derby was ready to run their grand race, the stadium at Santa Anita took on a reverent air. Everyone stood as the classic song, “My Old Kentucky Home” befell the crowd. Christine and I took our strategic positions at the lower level, in order to watch the huge screen televise the race. For the next two minutes our eyes were glued, while we screamed for “Always Dreaming” to win. As that regal horse crossed the finish line, Christine and I jumped up and down wildly. We had won! What a fabulous symbolic and encouraging name. Perfect for two hard working women who also assist others to make their creative dreams come true.
We met a lovely couple that day, Michael and Maya Martinek, who were celebrating their 7th wedding anniversary. However, they hadn’t been so lucky… they hadn’t won a race all day. Christine shared our last pick, “True Value” with them. Michael went off to place his bet while we chatted with Maya. She had accidently placed her purse on the table of a lone man sitting by himself watching the races. He turned to us and berated Maya for imposing on his space. We were all shocked by his behavior and Maya apologized profusely. However, he wouldn’t let go of his anger and walked over to the maître D to report us. Fortunately, Mr. Jimmy O’Hara used his Irish charm, he arranged for us to stay where we were and politely guided the man somewhere else.
When Michael returned with drinks for all, we intently watched our last race together. I had my camera up to my face, snapping swiftly trying to catch the action. And here came “True Value” pounding the turf edging his way inch by inch past each horse. Christine, Maya and Michael were yelling, “True Value” “True Value” while I kept my finger on the trigger of the camera. Then “True Value” pummeled across the finish line. We had all won! Except Michael had only bet $2.00. Still, the pure joy of winning a race radiated on our faces as we congratulated each other.
At the end of the day I got a bit philosophical (not about winning necessarily but about the names of the horses) and asked myself the following question? Were the names of the horses a message from the universe? Strong Values… I said on Facebook live, “So many people don’t have strong values these days. They are very important. Always Dreaming… You must have very strong values, so you can always keep dreaming… It pays to be a good person who has strong values, who works hard, and always keeps dreaming.”
I not only walked away from Derby Day with some money in my pocket, but I think I was being encouraged too by the Universe that I have been traveling down the right path in my life. Winning in all ways last Saturday with Christine Peake, my dear friend, at the races… two hard working women who help others attain their creative dreams – I would say my initiation into to the world of horse racing was quite enlightening indeed.
A big thank you to Santa Anita Relations Representative, Alexis Garske for our VIP passes.
Check out the Santa Anita Park here at: http://www.santaanita.com/
All Photos by Sheryl Aronson / The Hollywood 360 (unless otherwise indicated)