Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fairytale Ending: How American Pharoah Made My Horse Racing Life Come Full Circle

All the signs pointed to American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown.
But I was tired of seeing signs. I’d seen signs my entire life. And not once in my thirty-two years had they amounted to anything. In short, I was tired. Tired of getting my hopes up only for them to crash and burn. Tired of putting my life on hold for five weeks because this one horse might be The One. I thought Silver Charm was he. And Real Quiet. And Charismatic. Smarty Jones. Big Brown. California Chrome. On and on. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice… three times… thirteen times? How could I possibly believe this time  should be any different?

Once you stop wanting something, you get it. Trainer Bob Baffert, who guided three horses through their Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories only to fumble the crown and lose it in the Belmont, seemed to be on the same page. He wasn’t even thinking about the Triple Crown this year. A series of life-altering events seemed to have humbled the white-haired rocker of the racing world. He simply wanted to win one more Kentucky Derby. The Crown was recognized for what it was, a nearly impossible task. Something meant for an earlier, worthier time. Not us in these modern times.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Photos of 2014

While I didn't make it to as many races as I preferred in 2014, I had the privilege of witnessing plenty of history on the track. 2014 marked the first time I was credentialed for both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in the same year. It was my fourth credentialed Derby, my second Belmont Stakes, and a return to the place where it all began for me professionally. While not everything went as planned, I was still so fortunate to capture many memorable moments. A few of which might be my best.

Without further ado, here are ten of my favorite shots from my year at the races in chronological order.

Kentucky Oaks Victors: Untapable and Rosie Napravnik
I really couldn't have asked for a luckier moment than the one I got after Rosie guided Untapable to a stellar victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Assigned to the winner's circle, which was held in the traditional brick enclosure attached to the grandstand, I found myself unable to actually fit inside for the swarm of press and connections after the race. (A symptom of too many passes, too little room. Can we go back to the grass next year?) As the lilies were draped over the filly's shoulders, I found a tiny window between a couple photographer's legs and dove in for a low, wide shot. Rosie looked right at me as Untapable picked those elegant hoofs between the crowd. One of my most memorable moments of the year is seeing those feet inches from my own as the Oaks winner strode into the winner's circle.