West to Seattle — Goin’ West, the Rush Is On

When you say “Idaho” in casual conversation with someone who has never been west of the Rocky Mountains, you generally get either a blank look (as in, “Idaho?  Where’s that?”) or a dismissive comment (“Baking potatoes, right?  I prefer our local red new potatoes.”).  What these people don’t know, and what is a well-kept secret, is that northern Idaho is so beautiful that it’s almost indescribable.

Idaho roadside stop

Mountains jut sharply against a pristine blue sky, forests scented with pine and fir carpet the valleys, and the landscape is dotted with rivers and lakes brimming with water so clear you can see the trout glimmering beneath the surface.

Our final stop before reaching Seattle was Sandpoint, Idaho, a picturesque town on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced, surprisingly correctly, “pond oray”), north of the more famous Coeur d’Alene.  If it seems odd that so many place names in the Northwest have French origins, remember that the original trappers and fur traders in the region were largely French. (At least here, the later non-French settlers knew how to pronounce those names, unlike in Missouri, where the Courtois River morphed somehow into “coat-away.”)

Lake Pend Oreille

We stayed at a beautiful resort hotel across the lake from the town, in an elegant small suite with french doors opening onto a patio from which we could walk out onto the lawn leading down to the water.  Tour boats sailed past, from which tourists took pictures of hotel guests relaxing on the pier or sunning themselves on the swimming dock.

The next morning, we headed west again on I-90 to Spokane and on to Seattle, passing through the undulating fields of wheat and hay, punctuated by acres of sagebrush, that characterize eastern Washington.  Soon the foothills of the Cascades appeared on the horizon, and we began our climb to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, where the mountains towered over us in increasing majesty as we approached the city.  The scenery became greener and more lush with every mile, as well as more familiar to me — I was brought up in the Northwest, and my family now lives in Seattle and its suburban cities, where we have often visited them.

Following the instructions provided by the agency from whom we rented our Seattle condo for the month of September, we arrived at the building and were met by the agent and escorted to our spot in the parking garage.  The three of us manhandled our luggage into the elevator and were whisked to the 22nd floor of the Newmark Tower, where a key opened the door into — paradise!

Sunset over Elliott Bay

Across the street from the world-famous Pike Place Market, with unobstructed views through floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows across Elliott Bay to Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula to the west, our home for the next month was more than we had dreamed it would be.  Big ferryboats sailed back and forth between downtown Seattle and Bainbridge Island or Bremerton from dawn until well into the night, and smaller Argosy tour boats made cruises of the harbor every day.  The newly-built Great Wheel with its enclosed gondolas stood on a pier below us, rotating serenely and glowing with artistic lighting after dark.  One pier to the north of the Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium beckoned seductively, holding all its aquatic secrets inside dark green walls.  Huge cruise ships docked every weekend at one pier very close to us and another further north, headed to or from Alaska on week-long cruises.  Little seaplanes buzzed over the water en route to the San Juan Islands or Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Sunset over the Olympic Peninsula

And on days when the weather gods were especially kind, the Olympic Mountains dropped their misty robes and stood out against the horizon like a phalanx of massive soldiers guarding us from the Pacific Ocean.  We never tired of just gazing out the windows at the most beautiful view imaginable.

The apartment offered much more than simply its location, though.  Two bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors in the kitchen and living room, stylish and comfortable furniture, a beautiful kitchen with black granite countertops, a Miele stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, two flat-screen TV sets (one of them so good that we swore to each other we would buy one just like it for our own den as soon as we got home), and everything else needed for a long holiday stay.  Oh, and the first three floors of the building were occupied by a City Target store, selling everything from groceries to clothes, from bed linens to vitamins, from smart phones to DVD movies — in short, nearly everything a city dweller might shop for after work or on a weekend.

Once we’d unpacked and determined what we would put on our initial shopping list, we began to learn our way around the neighborhood, especially Pike Place Market and all its adjacent shops and restaurants.  There is simply no better place to shop if you want fresh seafood, local vegetables and fruits, gorgeous flowers, handmade cheeses, ethnic specialties (we had an Asian grocery, a Mexican grocery, and a Caribbean grocery in the same block, plus the best Italian grocery we’d ever seen across the street), incredibly good restaurants, and every convenience imaginable.  Gerry had his hair cut in a barber shop in the market, and we bought three books in an upscale used book store to supplement what we’d brought with us.  It was clear from our first encounter with city living in Seattle that we were going to have a terrific time.

For more photos of our introduction to this beautiful city, click here.

Racing Update – September 22, 2013

Battier, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes, ran third in yesterday’s $1 million Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, in Philadelphia. He earned $111,200 for the effort. Finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Will Take Charge, and a neck short of second-place Moreno — each of whom is ranked among the top 3YO colts in the country this year — Battier looked like a possible winner driving down the stretch, but fell just short. We were thrilled, to say the least. Next race will probably be a Grade III Stakes at Aqueduct six weeks from now, but plans are fluid.

In Lingerie is due to enter the Keeneland sales ring in November, where she will be sold in foal to Frankel. Connections say she looks fabulous and are excited by sale prices at the recent Keeneland yearling sale. Here she is in a photo taken last week.

 

State of Play did not draw into his Stakes race at Laurel Park yesterday, and now is planned to go in a one-mile allowance on turf October 5th at Laurel.

Bee Brave is said to be progressing nicely, but not in fitness shape for racing just yet, as you can see from this photo.

Bajan had a very nice work last week, going 35 and change over 3 furlongs. She is planning to run October 13 at Santa Anita in the $70,000 Anoakia Stakes on dirt, at 6 furlongs, if all goes well.

Everything looking good, so far.

Little Bighorn Battlefield

On the Crow Indian Reservation northwest of Sheridan, Wyoming, along the north bank of the winding Little Bighorn River, we stepped back into history on a flawless day in early September.

Ponies on the Crow Reservation

Gently rolling hills above the quiet river gave no hint of the terror and bloodshed that enveloped these acres in the summer of 1876.  Horses roamed freely over the hills and blocked the road that led across the Little Bighorn Battlefield from end to end, eyeing us warily as we got out of our car to take pictures of this living scenery.  But we were soon immersed in the story of the most famous battle of the western expansion movement.

As I mentioned in my post about Deadwood, a large area of what is now eastern Wyoming (and a sliver of western South Dakota) was designated a permanent reservation for the Lakota, Cheyenne, and other Native American tribes of the Great Plains by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.  This treaty followed decades of intermittent but bitter fighting between Indian and white cultures, as white emigrants moved relentlessly westward and the United States expanded its borders and its influence.  The Treaty of Fort Laramie was intended to buy peace, and for a time it was successful.  But in 1874 gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the heart of the Indian reservation, and prospectors streamed into the territory by the thousands in violation of the treaty and in disregard of the sacred hunting grounds of the tribes.

When nothing seemed able to stem the tide of incursion, the Lakota, Arapaho, and Cheyenne left the reservation in defiance of the treaty and began to again raid white settlements and travelers on the fringes of Indian land.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued an order directing the tribes to return to the reservation before the end of January 1876 or be treated as hostiles by the U.S. Army.  When the deadline had passed and the Indians had not complied, the Army was sent in to enforce the order.

Little Bighorn River from Greasy Grass Ridge

And this is what led up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, an episode in our history that illustrates what happens when myth and reality collide.  The Army’s plan was to neutralize the war chiefs, round up the recalcitrant tribes, and confine them to the reservation.  The Indians refused to be restricted to the reservation, preferring their traditional way of life as nomadic buffalo hunters.  Poor intelligence resulted in the Army’s vastly underestimating the size and strength of the Indian encampment along the Little Bighorn River, believing that there were only a few hundred warriors and noncombatants (women, children, and the elderly) when in fact there were 7,000, including as many as 2,000 warriors, led by the charismatic Lakota chief Sitting Bull.

The terrain of what is now known as the Little Bighorn Battlefield makes it easy to see why the Army was at a tremendous disadvantage from the outset.  Deep ravines and coulees run down from high ridges to the river valley, providing cover for the Indian warriors familiar with the landscape and accustomed to fighting from concealment, rather than from horseback in the open.

Deep Ravine southeast of Custer Hill

Also, the Army issued only two types of weapons to its troopers: the Colt six-shot revolver and the Springfield single-shot carbine.  The Springfield excelled in range and accuracy, but it had to be reloaded after every shot, and the cartridges tended to jam when the barrel grew hot with use.  The Indians used at least 41 different types of guns, including modern Henry and Winchester repeating rifles, giving them an advantage at close range.

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, an experienced veteran of the Civil War, led the 7th Cavalry (about 600 men) to the Little Bighorn River on June 25, 1876, where the Indian camp had been reported by his scouts to be located.  Custer divided his regiment into three battalions and retained five of the twelve companies under his own command, assigning three companies each to Major Reno and Captain Benteen and the twelfth to guard the pack train carrying their extra ammunition.  When all three battalions, operating separately, encountered heavy fighting, the story becomes murky.  What is not in dispute is the fact that the 7th Cavalry lost all five of the companies under Custer’s command, about 210 men.

The conventional wisdom says that Custer heroically took a stand on the peak of what is now Custer Ridge, surrounded by his troopers, all of whom fought to the death.  The Indians removed the bodies of their dead, estimated between 60 and 100, and left the troopers’ bodies on the battlefield, after stripping them and counting coup on their enemies in order to prevent their souls from being released to the afterlife.

Seventh Cavalry Memorial

When relief troops arrived on June 28, the bodies of Custer and his command were buried near where they were found; later, they were reinterred either in eastern cemeteries or, in 1881, in a mass grave around the base of the memorial erected on Custer Hill.  So despite the headstone markers scattered across the battlefield, erected by the Army in 1890, there is no real evidence pointing to exactly where the soldiers died.

But in 1983, a wildfire at the Little Bighorn National Monument exposed the surface of the land on which the battle had been fought, enabling archeologists to trace the movements of the combatants more accurately than had been possible before.  Identifying cartridge cases shows where a soldier fired his government weapon and where an Indian fired his Henry or Winchester or one of the other guns used by the warriors.  Identifying the bullet itself gives evidence not only of the weapon from which it was fired, but the location of the target.  Even more fascinating is what is called “firing pin signature analysis”: the firing pin of each gun leaves a unique mark, like a fingerprint, on the cartridge case as it fires a bullet.  By matching the firing pin signatures on cartridge cases at different locations, it’s possible to follow the movements of individual combatants from place to place across the battlefield.

The archeological evidence, combined with eyewitness accounts of Custer’s final battle given by Indians who participated in it (there were no surviving witnesses from Custer’s battalion), tells a different story from the legend.  Many of the troopers fled down the ravines from Custer Ridge seeking safety and were killed.  The skirmish lines that were designed to give tactical stability (each man five yards away from the next) disintegrated, and the battalion collapsed.  Some of the soldiers, probably including Custer, remained on the knoll, shooting their horses to provide a breastwork from behind which they attempted to hold off their swarming attackers.  Witnesses described the fighting as fierce and fast, lasting no more than a half hour.  One of the Cheyenne chiefs, Two Moons, described the scene: “The shooting was quick, quick.  Pop-pop-pop very fast.  Some of the soldiers were down on their knees, some standing.  The smoke was like a great cloud, and everywhere the Sioux went the dust rose like smoke.  We circled all around them — swirling like water around a stone.”

After the battle, knowing that retribution was bound to follow, the Indians scattered, some north to Canada, some to the south.  In a few years, though, most of them returned to the reservations and surrendered.  Further west, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, after resisting an order to move from his ancestral land to a tiny reservation, finally laid down his weapons in 1877 and said, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”  His words serve as an epitaph for the traditional way of life once enjoyed by native Americans.

A few more photos of the battlefield, and the Indian herd of grazing horses, are seen here.

 

Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower

Less than a three-hour drive apart lie two of the country’s most impressive national parks: Mount Rushmore National Memorial near Keystone, South Dakota, and Devils Tower National Monument near Sundance, Wyoming.  The majestic sculpted portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln loom high over the trails and terraces from which they are best viewed, gleaming in the shifting light as the sun drifts across the sky.

Approaching Mount Rushmore

The sculptor who carved these heads from granite, Gutzon Borglum, was a Danish-American who wanted to memorialize his country’s greatness in monumental art and chose these four presidents to represent moments of significance in our history.  George Washington presided over the birth of the nation; Thomas Jefferson personified expansion and exploration with the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition; Theodore Roosevelt is best known for development: the construction of the Panama Canal, the title of “Trust Buster,” and the establishment of the National Parks system; and Abraham Lincoln, who preserved the nation by saving the union during the Civil War.  The monument was carved between 1927 and 1941, which helps to explain the omission of Franklin D. Roosevelt from this pantheon of significant presidents.

Mount Rushmore from the Grand Terrace

When we walked from the parking garage up the wide, simple walkway toward the sculpture, we were struck by the atmosphere surrounding the entire memorial.  Voices were hushed, and everyone moved forward quietly and almost reverently as they approached the Grand View Terrace and an unobstructed view of this most famous carving in America.  The air was bright and cool, and we felt a sense of awe in the presence of such magnificent and monumental art.  Borglum achieved his goal, and did it flawlessly.

Devil’s Tower

It would be unthinkable to drive from Deadwood across the Northwest on Interstate 90 without making the short detour to Devil’s Tower in the northeast corner of Wyoming.  One writer described its impact on those who see it for the first time: “A dark mist lay over the Black Hills, and the land was like iron.  At the top of the ridge I caught sight of Devil’s Tower upthrust against the gray sky as if in the birth of time the core of the earth had broken through its crust and the motion of the world was begun.  There are things in nature that engender an awful quiet in the heart of man; Devil’s Tower is one of them.”  A column of stone rises 867 feet from its base and 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, its sides fractured into what look like marble columns and its flat oval top measuring an acre and a half in area.  Devil’s Tower is one of the natural landmarks revered by American Indians as sacred places, and signs along the trail at the tower’s base ask visitors to refrain from disturbing “prayer bundles and prayer cloths” placed there by local tribes.

Prayer cloths at Devil’s Tower

In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed Devil’s Tower the first national monument, thus protecting it from commercial development and exploitation.  The hiking trails that loop around the base of the tower and its surrounding parkland are testimony to how well that protection has worked over the past century.  Hikers and walkers can experience the impact of the monument without intrusion from souvenir shops, snack bars, or sellers of wearable advertising.

The drive into the park winds through one of the most appealing and yes, adorable tourist attractions ever created by nature: a large prairie dog town, home to a colony of black-tailed prairie dogs.

Black-tailed prairie dogs

Like congenial condo dwellers, these photogenic creatures pop in and out of their holes, appear to chat with each other in dirt-rimmed doorways, and regard all of us two-legged animals and our clicking and flashing and buzzing cameras with fearless interest.

The majesty of the monument is breathtaking, especially because its beauty and symmetry owe nothing to human intervention.  Its formation began 50 million years ago when molten magma was forced into rocks above it and fractured into columns as it cooled.  It stands in solitary splendor among the low, gently rolling Little Missouri Buttes, magnificent and forbidding and beautiful beyond description.

Both these sites are famous for their appearances in popular films: Mount Rushmore in the climactic scenes of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), when Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint scrambled down the stone faces to escape certain death at the hands of James Mason; and Devil’s Tower at the center of Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), compelling a handful of people touched by the presence of intraterrestrial beings to journey to Devils Tower for reasons they don’t understand.  It’s impossible to imagine either of these iconic films without their signature monuments.

For additional photos of Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, click here.

 

Deadwood and the Black Hills

In 1868, some remote and apparently useless land was ceded to the Lakota Indian tribe in perpetuity by the U.S. Government in the Treaty of Laramie, and no “foreign” settlements were permitted under the treaty’s terms.  This wild and mountainous territory was unsuitable for farming or ranching, and the Oregon Trail used by emigrants lay far to the south.  So for some years, the Lakota roamed the Black Hills as they had for generations, hunting and fishing and following the trails set by the course of nature.  They believed that the spirits that guided their destiny resided in certain natural landmarks, and that therefore those places were sacred and untouchable.  Other tribes were allowed access to the Black Hills, and for the most part, peace reigned.

Then in 1874 Col. George Armstrong Custer led a military expedition into the Black Hills and returned to civilization to announce the discovery of gold on French Creek.  Within weeks, a horde of gold-seekers descended on what had been a quiet gully in the heart of the Hills, and the town of Deadwood was born.  Lawless, bawdy, corrupt, and illegally settled, Deadwood became the mythic capital of the Wild West, home to gunslingers, gamblers, and prostitutes, as well as to the businesses that supplied the prospectors.

Wild Bill’s grave & Calamity Jane’s (behind wall)

Wild Bill Hickock was shot to death in a Deadwood saloon and is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery overlooking the town.  Calamity Jane, pursuant to her deathbed request, is buried next to her old friend, Wild Bill.  Deadwood today still wears the tattered remains of its former finery, with sawdust-floored saloons, proud Victorian buildings, and kitschy architecture.

Driving through the Black Hills National Forest on the way to Deadwood, we passed through some of the most beautiful country we’ve ever seen.  A gracefully winding highway followed the dry bed of a stream that in the winter can become a raging river, flanked by towering hills carpeted in lush evergreen trees.  The air was cool and silent, except for occasional bird calls.

Deadwood from Mt. Moriah Cemetery

It’s not hard to understand why the Lakota resisted the incursion of the white men into their sacred territory, especially since that incursion was made solely for those white men’s financial gain and with no thought of the consequences to the land.  Often during our drive west, we had this same sense of empathy with the Native Americans who were displaced from the land they loved and respected and were forcibly removed to reservations for the convenience of the U.S. Government and its most powerful citizens.

Deadwood has often been the setting for tales of the Wild West, most recently the HBO mini-series Deadwood, starring Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane.  The movie Dances with Wolves was filmed mostly in the Black Hills, and its star Kevin Costner built and still owns the Midnight Star, a successful casino and restaurant on Main Street.

Main Street

That street is dotted with ice cream parlors, casinos, restaurants, and shops selling souvenirs capitalizing on the historical notoriety of Deadwood.  Every day there is a re-enactment of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickock in Saloon #10, reputedly the site of the original gunfight, where walls display photographs of many of the early residents of the town, along with the “Dead Man’s Hand” (aces and eights) held by Wild Bill when he was shot and killed.  No one can accuse Deadwood of displaying excessive good taste, but it gives you the chance to remember playing cowboys and Indians in a town where it all actually happened.

For more photos of Deadwood, click here.

 

 

Well, that’s the way it happened, movin’ west . . .

Despite the skepticism of our friends and family, we decided several months ago to make one more long trip by car while we still enjoy driving and revisit some parts of the U.S. reachable only by highway.  Also, we’ve been promising ourselves — and our family in the Pacific Northwest — that we would spend an extended period of time in Seattle some summer.  So we started by renting a condo in downtown Seattle for the month of September, in a high-rise building across the street from the world-famous Pike Place Market.  Then we began to plan our way west, the northern route toward Seattle and the southern route home.  We lined up our cats’ favorite sitters for the seven weeks we would be gone, spent a lot of time at AAA picking up maps and books and ordering Trip-Tiks for the entire trip, and booked hotels where we thought we might have difficulty finding a vacancy when we wanted it.

Naturally, the weather in the Midwest and Great Plains, which had been sunny and pleasant, with occasional showers, the week before we left home, turned brutally hot as soon as we loaded the car.  We stopped in St. Louis to see the four grandchildren who live there, which meant attending their soccer and baseball games in 90-plus degree weather, huddling under an umbrella for shade.  (We were pleased to see that we weren’t making ourselves conspicuous — most of the other grandparents in attendance did the same.)

Once we left St. Louis, we were in territory we hadn’t explored for years, basically following the Missouri River upstream to Kansas City, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City.  I have a trivia question for you: Which college’s mascot is the coyote?  Here’s a hint: Its campus is in a little town named Vermillion, on the river of the same name, so called because of its red clay banks.  I’ll give you the answer at the end of this post.

Tennis mural – Corn Palace

There are two must-see places along Interstate 90 through South Dakota, both of which we visited en route to our next stop.  Mitchell is the home of the Corn Palace, a huge building housing a theater-cum-basketball court, famous for its spectacular exterior adornment.  This year, massive murals created solely from corn, rye, oat heads, and sour dock depict scenes from history and practitioners of almost every sport, as well as abstract designs.

Corn Palace

About 275,000 ears of corn of every color are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed to the walls of the building, as hundreds of tourists and locals watch the pictures taking shape.  The building is redecorated every year, as it has been since 1892, and it’s a treat to see what the current year’s local artists have come up with. A few more pictures here

 

Boots, anyone?

We spent an hour or so at Wall Drug, located in Wall, South Dakota,  the eastern entry point for Badlands National Park. We wandered through acres of rooms of goods for sale (including, surprisingly enough, an actual drugstore) in what has to be the largest store of its kind anywhere.  Lots of western gear was on offer, including hats, boots, jeans by the thousands, and a wall of coiled lassos for the serious cowboy.  Tourists in shorts and T-shirts eating super-sized ice cream cones gawked at all the products on display and bought mostly postcards, key chains, and cheap souvenirs.

Ropes too?

I wanted Gerry to buy a new hat, but even after trying on several, the most adventurousness he could muster resulted in the purchase of a braided leather belt.

Here are more pictures of Wall Drugs.

Our next stop was the Badlands National Park, a place so stunning in its austere beauty that it’s difficult to describe it.  We were driving along the interstate, admiring the rich farmland planted in acres of corn whose tops were so level they looked like a young boy with a new flattop haircut, when suddenly a line of jagged rock appeared to the southwest, running along the horizon.  A curving loop drive runs through the park, so that you enter from Wall on the east and exit at Moorcroft on the west.

The Badlands

 

Tall peaks pierce the sky, and deep gullies fall away on every side.

Badlands architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright saw the Badlands for the first time in 1935 and wrote, “I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Badlands. . ..  What I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere — a distant architecture, ethereal, an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it.”  I couldn’t say it half as well.

Spectacular scenery… click on Badlands!

P.S.  As promised, here’s the answer to the trivia question about Vermillion: the coyote is the mascot of the University of South Dakota, and a beautiful statue of that wild dog stands in a prominent position at the entrance to the school’s campus.

University of South Dakota quadrangle

The students had just returned to college the weekend before we arrived — luckily on Monday evening — and there was a very real sense of excitement and anticipation in the town.  We’ll be watching for the “Yotes” from now on.

Next installment: Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower.

Racing Update – September 4, 2013

Since the last update, two horses have run, with mixed results.

Two-year-old filly Bajan ran in the Del Mar Debutante Derby, a $300,000 G1 last Saturday , August 31. She finished 6th, and her jockey Victor Espinosa — who has been aboard for all three of her races — reported that she unexpectedly broke in to a lather of a sweat before entering the gate. She was never a factor in the race, but the management team seems to view it as an anomalous “fugataboudit”! We shall see. In any event she came out of the race in good condition, and future races are under consideration. Seasoned observers beyond our connections still have confidence in her.

Battier, our 3-year-old colt — named after Duke basketball player Shane Battier  — ran the following Monday, September 2, at Parx racetrack near Philadelphia, in the G3 Smarty Jones Stakes for $350,000. After falling far back entering the first turn, he rallied nicely, but went 6-wide around the 2nd turn, and had only enough in the tank for a fourth-place finish. He earned $21,500 for the effort and pleased our connections enough that they are looking at the September 21 Pennsylvania  Derby for $1million. The race is also at Parx, a track Battier seems very comfortable running. This race was more encouraging than it first seemed, as jockey inexperience — a common villain in horse disappointment — was blamed with some apparent justification.

Bee Brave, a 3-year-old filly who has been on the shelf since arriving from England as a heralded 2-year-old, finally appears to be healthy, and is in training in Lexington, KY. She has never run in the US, and sending her to California from Europe now seems to have been an unwise move in retrospect. Being a Kentuckian, I can understand, never having been really comfortable in California. Looking forward to seeing her race in 2013.

State of Play is in serious training at Fair Hill, where Barry Irwin continues to tout TVI sole trainer Rick Mettee as the second coming of Ben Jones. Not our affair. Geh gesundte heh! According to notes released, State of Play is expected to be ready to run at Laurel in  Maryland this month.

And last . . . In Lingerie, healthily in foal to Frankel, will be sold at the Keeneland Broodmare Sales in November. HUGE expectations! At least from Laurie and Gerry.

Fingers crossed.