Kentucky Derby 138
The annual running of the Kentucky Derby happened last weekend and I was there photographing all the action. It’s a wonderful event and the biggest annual event to hit Louisville.
This was the first year I’ve been to Churchill Downs for the race since 2008, and it was great to get down to the track again. This was the sixth time I’ve photographed the event, but the first time as a freelancer and I found the experience surprisingly relaxing.
Early in the week I visited the track in the early morning hours to photograph three-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel and his mount, Take Charge Indy, for a newspaper located outside Chicago. The backside of the Downs is a pretty special place. You can feel the excitement coursing through the fans, the horses, and the hordes of photographers that spend the week chasing trainers, horses and owners.
On race day my assignment was pretty simple: hats. If you have never been to the Kentucky Derby, hats are an essential accessory for men and women. Fans decorate cheap party hats to an insane degree, and women splurge hundreds on piling the latest fashion on top of their heads.
My assignment was 50 photos, only five with id’s and the rest would get a blanket cutline for a web gallery. I think I ended up with about 80 photos, turning in about 65 or so of the better ones.
My hats were due by 3pm and after that I thought I would have the rest of the day free to play around. Unfortunately, another photographer was sent home sick, so I got called in to fill his place on the track. I would be photographing the third turn for a feature called “Around the Track” that the Courier-Journal does every year for the race.
Everything worked out fine and the editors were happy with the final image. It was a great day at the track. My only complaint is my traditional walk back to the car, as the media shuttles were as non-existent as ever. It’s my only beef I ever have with how things are handled on race day, but when you jam nearly 200,000 people into the same place, delays are bound to occur. I can’t wait for next year.