The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The first Saturday in December has always been a gamble. Would it be sunny? If it rained, would the skies open up long enough for a few hours of sun mid-day…right when we need it the most? There was definitely something much more magical about this year.
I came to know Neigh Savers Foundation Founder Karin Wagner five years ago when my book was first published. I was searching for animal rescue organizations hoping to donate it to for fundraising purposes. I learned of Neigh Savers Foundation’s annual holiday fundraiser at Golden Gate Fields racetrack where a ticket treats you to a meal in the Turf Club with an awesome view of the track below, and most importantly, raises money to rescue, rehabilitate, and retrain retired racehorses. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
In the beginning, going to this annual fundraiser was a way to enjoy a nice day at the track and help retired racehorses awaiting adoption as well as being a Christmas gift to my parents to whom I dedicated my book. Now, five years later, our drive to Berkeley every first Saturday in December has become our family holiday tradition.
I have never in my life witnessed a race like the one we did this year! I would have to say it was divinely orchestrated as this particular race was named in honor of Neigh Savers Foundation.
This was a race of “five’s”…five horses and five jockeys in our fifth year attending the Neigh Savers Foundation’s holiday fundraiser. As the horses turned the corner towards the finish line and spread out abreast of each other, all eyes in the Turf Club focused on the track, as seated onlookers rose in excitement and cheered the pounding hooves on. A blanket finish! Not one, not two, but five horses reached the finish line at almost the precise same time!
I kid you not! That first place horse won I would say by a nostril, the next by a nose or so, and the rest within hoof beats of each other! So exhilarating! I’m convinced those horses were feeling pretty darn good due to the exceptionally warm winter weather and the nicely kept track, and maybe, just maybe, from the roaring crowd.
On the drive home, we reminisced about past fundraisers and the fun we had. But, this one undoubtedly will go down as the most magical of all, when five incredible equine athletes crossed the finish line together!
How about you? What are your family holiday traditions? Maybe something you’ve done routinely every year can become a tradition with a little creativity. Whatever it is, please be sure to enjoy your traditions now, “in the moment”, as we never know how much time we are blessed to have with our loved ones.
Denise Lee Branco