In most years, the barn where the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) is stabled generally draws the crowd of fans and well-wishers the following morning.
That was not the case at Churchill Downs on the morning of Nov. 7, one day after Blame upset the great race mare Zenyatta in the previous day’s race, ending the daughter of Street Cry’s win streak at 19 straight.
While a large crowd watched Zenyatta graze outside barn 41, it was quiet and business as usual at the barn of Al Stall Jr., who trains Blame for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.
Stall, who is based at Churchill and Fair Grounds in his native New Orleans, is an affable and hard-working conditioner known around the backside as "little Al." His father, Al Stall Sr., is a long-time successful owner-breeder in Kentucky and Louisiana.
"It’s just great; it hasn’t sunk in yet," Stall said. "The nice thing about it is that it isn’t just going to go away soon."
Stall said there was no big celebration the night of the Classic, just a gathering at the barn. Part of that is because he and the rest of his staff were preparing to relocate the racing operation to New Orleans. "We were preparing for the move down south, so were a little busy," he said, noting that he had received more than a 100 text messages of congratulations.
The trainer said Blame will be shipped to Keeneland before eventually being sent to Claiborne near Paris, Ky. Blame’s sire, Arch, is a Claiborne stallion.
"The transition should be nothing for him. He’s going to Seeking the Gold’s stall."
Stall, who has been a consistently solid trainer over the years before getting the opportunity to train for Claiborne upon the retirement of Frank Brothers, said he appreciates the upgrade in quality of stock.
"It’s like a new feeding program; you’re feeding better horses."
The trainer said that with his first Classic under his belt, he and Claiborne are now turning their attention to the first Saturday in May and the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Stall said he is looking forward to prepping Claiborne’s group of 2-year-olds while at Fair Grounds over the winter. "We took our time with them (2-year-olds) during the summer," Stall said. "So we will have plenty of reasons to get out of bed in the morning at the Fair Grounds."