Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Illinois Derby

I decided to hop in my car after an all day conference call and head to Chicago for the Illinois Derby. What a great way to spend my weekend!

I woke up early to catch photos of the morning workouts. Then had a great lunch, while the crowd grew at Hawthorne Race Course. I had no idea that Hawthorne had been around since 1891. It's older than the USGA (for whom I work)!

I have to say that Hawthorne was a fun place. There were very good crowds for the day, Nick Zito was even there. I met up with a "friend" on facebook who was hired to shoot crowd photos for the day. It was really cool to actually meet up with one of the 300+ friends of mine on facebook. She helped me out with meeting some people at the track. Since I have some serious camera equipment, I didn't want to cause any problems for the track photographer. And with her help I didn't!

I spent the day shooting the races and many of the jockey's who were in town for the day and the big race.

It was really something to see when the horses for the Illinois Derby came out. Every single one of them was so much bigger than any 3 year old that had raced earlier in the day. They were beautiful and certainly showing their excellent pedigrees fully.

Musket Man ran a great race with Eibar Coa on board.

Illinois derby

Musket Man

I did find this to be a little odd...


That would be the winner leaving the winner's circle in a Delaware Park cooler. It just struck me as odd.

After the race, I took a seat at a cubicle in front of the televisions where many handicappers spend their day. A track regular sat down next to me and was peeking at my photos while I was going through them on my camera. We struck up a conversation and I mentioned that I had owned a horse that once raced here. He was pretty proud of the fact I had a horse from Hawthorne, which he was proud to call his place. I showed him pictures of Jaguar Hope I have on my iphone. He remembered him! and so did his friends that had now joined our conversation. They started talking about when he raced. I proudly showed them photos and my new friend said, "you sure do love him!" And I teared up and told him he died a few weeks ago. They were so nice in that awkward moment and told me how sorry they were for me.

I had no idea that handicappers had a heart for the horses too. That was a pretty cool revelation and it completed a very special day for me at Hawthorne.

Thanks Hawthorne! I'll be back again soon.

For those who missed the race, here is a video of the Illinois Derby along with the other big races of the day (Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby):

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