Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shooting the Kentucky Derby

It's pouring rain today in Lexington. A great day to do nothing but edit photos from a great weekend of racing. The EquiSport Photos team worked our butts off and we did really well. Alex Evers was on our team and he's one talented young man with a camera!! In no time he can see a shot, get it composed and viola! - a fantastic shot that made the New York Times racing blog called The Rail...

I love the dark background he managed to get. Awesome!

Racing on Oaks and Derby day begins at 10:30am and we had to have the remote equipment set up well before the first race. So we arrived early and stayed late both days. The weather on Saturday made things that much more of a bother because we had to carry protective equipment for the cameras. Fortunately, the equipment came out of the elements unscathed.

It was my first time shooting the Kentucky Derby. It's an incredible experience. The crowd, the festivities - really cool!



and seeing some friends from the track...


As for my work... It's important to know that I'm stationed ON THE TRACK. Next to the outside rail but right on the muddy track. And I must kneel in the mud during the races...

The first thing to come by for the Kentucky Derby is the walk over from the barns. It's a huge parade of the race horses and their connections. It was a muddy but joyous affair...


Those guys in the above photo were part of the HomeboyKris connections - Joe Torre is one of the owners. They were into the Derby experience despite the mud.


The horses head over to the saddling paddock to be saddled and the jockey's get on and come out of the tunnel to the University of Louisville playing, My Old Kentucky Home. That gave me chills it was so cool! The horses are then paraded by, all 20 of them. They were actually uncomfortably close to me when they came by. Having a racehorse all jacked up and ready to race come within a couple arms length is a little unnerving when you have no where to go.

I'm friends with an exercise rider that works for Steve Asmussen. Dominic Terry is his name and he's fortunate enough to be the exercise rider for the 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra. Dom begged me to get a photo of him in the post parade as he and the Asmussen pony, Dakota, led Awesome Act in the post parade.


Then it was time for the horses to be loaded in the gate and race...


and 20 horses, with their hooves slapping on mud and very firm footing under the mud (it's pressed down (sealed) to raise the water up so it will drain off and stay as dry as possible) come roaring down the stretch. The pounding hooves and the cheers from the crowd are so loud that it shakes your insides. It's incredible!


and before you know it, the horses come around the clubhouse turn, the crowd roars so loudly it blows you away and as they are heading for the finish, I have to keep to my task, pick one horse through my camera lens I think will win and start shooting


and try to catch the jubilation at the finish




  1. OMG! Amazing, amazing shots! Wow! I want your life! Can we trade? Wait? Maybe you need to hire someone to carry your bags? I could do that! :)

  2. this is SO SO SO cool! I feel like I totally got the insiders look/feel of the derby. You are so talented (as you already know). I can't thank you enough for sharing!

  3. Terrific Wendy. Sorry your first professional experience of the Derby was a wet one. But, the excitement is still there. Just imagine what it would have been like if Saturday had been as nice as Saturday.

    You can't beat the Derby. One of my all time favorite times of year.

  4. WOW! That is sooo coool!!! Hey i could carry your stuff too! lol


  5. Very beautiful and strong horse in these pictures.There saddles and color pads are looking very smart and beautiful. For racing i think english saddle are very good.

  6. You share informative post I hope you will share another good post. I read Rent my home for derby