A track worker wipes down a statue of famed-race horse Seabiscuit before the start of the first day of the Breeders Cup on Friday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
ARCADIA — At last, Santa Monica-based golf writer and course designer Geoff Shackelford got to meet 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford.
It was love at first bite.
Shackelford, a frequent contributor to Golf World and Golf Digest, explained Friday how he finally got his wish to meet Shackleford, a 2-1 favorite in Saturady’s $1 million Dirt Mile, two weeks ago when he and his mom visited his barn, thanks to an invite from owner Mike Lauffer.
After they took pictures together, Shackelford felt Shackleford chomp into his arm, right through his shirt, leaving a couple of teeth marks.
“Oh, it drew blood and left a nice scar,” said Shackelford, son of the former UCLA basketball star Lynn Shackelford who has been following the career of the horse not named for anyone his family – note the different spelling – but for the Shackleford Islands in North Carolina that are a home to many wild horses.
“I found out that Shackleford has also bitten Mike’s wife once, too – but not Mike. He knows better. That’s when you have to give him a peppermint.
“Of course, being bit by a Preakness winner is a great thing.”
Shackelford, who last year produced a self-published book of his own photos called “Zenyatta at Home: Visits to Barn 55” as a tribute to the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, doesn’t hold a grudge against the 4-year-old chestnut stallion.
“I’ll always bet on him – this field sets up great for him,” said Shackelford, coming back for Saturday’s day of racing. “He’ll be the talk of the whole place.”
Beadle juiced: So pumped up by her first trip ever to a race track, Michelle Beadle will have another.
Which sounds perfect for NBC, since the network plans to use the new “Access Hollywood” co-host and former ESPN personality to do all their glamorous dirty work, interviewing a slew of celebs hanging out Saturday in the so-called Trophy Lounge, which, on non-Breeders’ Cup days, is known as the Club Court area of Santa Anita, a few hundred yards past the finish line.
“Elizabeth Banks, Bobby Flay, Bo Derek . . . It’s a to-be-seen type of day, for sure,” said Beadle after feature reporting for the NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the first six Breeders’ Cup races.
A feature story she worked Friday will air Saturday afternoon: Discovering which horses have the best personalities.
“Trinniberg (a 15-1 longshot in today’s $1.5 million Sprint), if he was a human, I really believe is someone I could hang out with – kinda antsy, loves to drink Guinness . . . nothing like Switch (a 12-1 outsider in today’s $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint), who is very anal – at 5:15 every day, he needs to go out for a run,” said Beadle.
“It’s remarkable to see how they act. If you’re the kind of person who loves to be around dogs, I think it’s the same kind of things you see in horses.”
The payoff: If you put a $2 win bet on all six Breeders’ Cup races, there was nothing to show for it — until the end Friday, when Mike Smith rode Royal Delta to a repeat in the Ladies’ Classic for a $5.40 payoff.
If you took Daily News columnist Kevin Modesti’s advice and stayed true to whatever horse Garrett Gomez was riding, you were one-for-three, with a couple of second places. His victory aboard Beholder in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies was a $9.80 payout with a horse that started at 5/2.
Gomez, whose autobiography has just been released, has seven mounts in the nine races Saturday, including 12-1 Richard’s Kid in the $5 million Classic.
A lay of the landscape: Aside from hanging outside the purple-carpet entrance of the Trophy Lounge for a Mel Brooks sightings, the other places to be seen, heard and smelled for B.C. redo, as the noise and nonsense is turned up a notch:
== Best place to get discounted entrance passes: Simply walk slowly to the gate once you arrive at the parking lot. You’ll likely be approached by a scalper with a look of desperation, inquiring about you’re interest in a glossy $150 grandstand or $450 turf box ticket with the sales pitch: “What’ll you give me for ‘em?”
“Everything is so overpriced,” said one re-seller. “It’s just the way of the world around here.”
== Best Zenyatta-based hangout: Aside from the photo op in front of the statue created for her over by the fountains, there’s a tribute tent of merchandise that the Louisville-based company called Zenyattashop.com has up for the offering. From the high end of a $950 lithograph to a $25 stuffed plush pony, the coolest item might be a $25 black T-shirt with the complete transcript of Trevor Denman’s call of her 2009 Classic victory.
== Best unintentional workout: A 3D layout of the Santa Anita finish line created by artist Kurt Wenner allows for folks to put on the silks and get into a yoga-type child’s pose position atop the artwork to appear as if they’re riding a horse across for a win. The picture then gets posted on the Breeders’ Cup Facebook page for all to ponder.
== Most needless impulse buys at the giant souvenir tents: It depends if you can pull off anything in purple.
If not, avoid all shirts, scarves, sweatshirts and seat cushions. Stick to a $4 logo golf ball, a $40 Zippo lighter or a $18 mini luggage scale if you really want something impractical that can be easily re-gifted.
== Most appropriate drink to order: One of the alcove club house bars – with oil paintings of Chris McCarren, Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay glaring at you — offers a $9 Bloody Mary. Guaranteed to be Lasix free, but with plenty of Grey Goose.
== Best cell-phone reception area: Does not exist.
== Best ATM machine location: Not enough to consider making a suggestion. Brings your own wads of cash from home.
== Most convenient cheap-food stop: The “I’ll Have Another” watering hole and feed bin, where a $5.75 jalapeno chili dog, a $3 soft taco and a $7 premium ale will do the trick in a pinch. You may in fact have another after you’re finished.
== A better quality food experience: Invest in a stack of $15 tickets to the “Taste of L.A.” booths on either side of the Zenyatta statue, and it’s a guaranteed payoff. The menu from the micro-restaurants offer up things like a meatball parmesan burger, a “bacon mashtini” (that’s a mashed potato with bacon served in a martini glass), “colita de res” (that would be braised ox tail) or a barbecue beef brisket burrito with lime cilantro and deep-fried avocado.
== Quote of the day: Track announcer Trevor Denman, simply pointing out the last two horses in the gate for the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf: “I’m a Dreamer, In Lingerie . . . and away they go.”