Los Angeles, California:  There was a lot going on in Los Angeles this weekend, so Dave and I drove over Friday night. Leo and Lucy had a movie night event to attend for a few hours at school, so their parents and grandparents had a nice dinner at a new place I have been waiting and waiting to try – Cote Est (East Side) – a French bistro. We had a lovely table outside on an inviting brick-wall-enclosed, tree-filled courtyard. Delicious foods. Icy wine. Really just a great night with Lisa and Lenny (and without the children… which is nice every once in a while).

Duck Confit on lentils, with greens

The number one reason for our visit to the big city this weekend was to attend Leo’s piano recital, where he would be playing a waltz. Yes, it was the world’s shortest waltz, but he performed well and showed few nerves. Everyone clapped, Leo bowed, and received a medal from the headmistress of the music school. We are so very proud of Leo!

Leo posed for photos after his performance:

And then it was time for the next event on our weekend agenda – our annual visit to Santa Anita! Here we could celebrate Dave’s birthday, Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby… while enjoying great food, placing a few bets, and sipping on champagne or mint juleps (instead of margaritas). Sorry, Mexico. We know your army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but this year we did not join in the festivities.

I’ll make up for it sometime.

Lisa arranged for indoor seating this year at the Frontrunner Restaurant, high above the race track. Previously we have had box seats outside, or have watched the races from the bleachers. Most of the seating at Santa Anita is in the shade – but we have needed jackets previously on Derby Days. Not today. It was nearing 100 degrees, so we were very grateful for our window-front table and air conditioning.

Not only could we watch the races live, we could watch the races on the gianormousscreen in the middle of the track, or even from a little television on our table. The one-price-per-person food situation: buffet with fabulous foods and desserts, free-flowing champagne/mimosas, and a selection of entrees to choose from the menu. We did not starve. And just because everyone in the room wore fancy-dress and were seated at elegant tables, do not think for a moment they didn’t rise and shout and jump and cheer and wave their napkins during each and every race. So much fun!

We were surprised to see an adorable kid’s buffet at the race track. Let’s face it – a race track probably isn’t a place for children. Leo and Lucy (and the two other children we saw all day!) had miniature chafing dishes filled with kid-friendly foods and the most amazing selection of candy. Leo called it Candy Land. Fruit or cheese skewers for kids featured a horse at the end of the stick. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were cut into horse-shapes. The muffins, pastries, cakes and other baked treat selection was pretty impressive. The staff were great and maybe came by to top-off our mimosas toooften? Ha. Not possible. (Except My Driver, celebrating his birthday by sipping on iced tea most of the afternoon.)

Most ladies were wearing hats to honor the Kentucky Derby tradition, but some ladies were wearing amazing hats. The table next to us made special effort today:

Not only were the hats amazing, the entire ensembles were stunning. Look at the gloves!

The woman in the tangerine dress – well over six feet tall already + heels + an 18-inch-tall hat – was obviously going to win a prize in the hat contest at Santa Anita today. I felt sorry for the other entrants. When she returned to the dining room after the contest, everyone in the restaurant rose to give her a standing ovation and wild applause. Then everyone took her photo, and the local NBC affiliate appeared with a camera crew to interview the stunning winner.

I saw several men wearing this shirt today

Is it legal to choose a horse based on Lucy’s favorite color?

Polenta with chiles – topped with cheese and radish sprouts

We stayed to watch the soggy and cold Kentucky Derby race, live from Churchill Downs, on the in-field screen. No one was surprised the fabulous Justify won the race. What a victory and what a beautiful horse. As soon as the Kentucky Derby was over, we left. There were plenty of races left at Santa Anita, but we had asked enough quiet, proper behavior from our precious grandchildren. We went outside and were able to pet a few horses that aid in guiding the racers from the stables to the track.

Santa Anita is very family-friendly outside of gaming. The stables outside are open for anyone to visit and talk with the trainers or jockeys (if they are not too busy, of course). The facilities are so nice, so well maintained and if nothing else, go to Santa Anita just to see the buildings! Victorian and Art Deco combination, completely restored recently to her original glory.

Racers being led from the stables to the track 

Mom decided the kids were so well-behaved today (not to mention our little concert pianist), they deserved a treat from the gift shop.

Lucy chose a horse. Leo chose a horse. Surprise.

Since Santa Anita is well on the way back to Indio from Los Angeles, Gramps and I hit the road after the festivities. We need to get our RV ready to roll in a few days.

Another fabulous time with the family. We will see them again soon – Lucy has a ballet recital in a few weeks.

Until my next update, I remain, your “I lost $40” correspondent.

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