(Essential Quality / All Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Editor’s Note:

It is that time of year, again.

The final stretch drive towards the annual Breeders’ Cup Championships, which will be held at Del Mar Turf Club on Nov. 5 & 6.

The final surge to the finish line of the game’s and sport’s most defining days, when champions become champions by what they do on the racetrack and not by someone chosen to cast a mysterious, secret vote.

The finals preparations, tune-ups, and set-downs to crank the screws just a bit tighter and polish the engines to just the right purr.

This morning, our very own Holly M. Smith journeyed out to Churchill Downs to catch a few glimpses of some of the top horses and connections prepping for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Championship races.

Here’s her most amazing views:

Independence Hall works:

Knicks Go is going:

Silver Prospector:

Long Range Toddy:

Plainsman:

Essential Quality:

Night Ops: