2008...or maybe 1999 ?

 There has been some negative discussion about the 2008 Eclipse Award for photography. Most, if not all, the gripes about the photo come from people that are disappointed with the winning selection.

I have met Matt Goins and his associates, and they are great. They are fun to be around and cut up with. Matt is incredibly talented and so let's make it known that my issue has nothing to do with him, his associates, or the talent they posses. I think most people have been clear on that point as well.

However, the photo that won was not inspiring. My reaction upon first view was, well there really wasn't one. I said "Really?". Of all the photos from 365 days of racing, that is what wins? I need something that gives me a reaction, indeed this photo captured a moment...1999.

Photo: Matt Goins

Many may remember a similar photo winning a few years ago, and in this weeks edition of The Blood-Horse, Mark Belling in Milwaukee, Wis. wrote a letter expressing his thoughts on how disappointed he was with this year's winner.

So I thought we should discuss this photo faux-pas.

I picked out one of my favorite Out of The Gate photos from our BH weekly magazine from last year. I think it would have been more fitting, with horses actually racing in it. Then again, we all have our opinions. I mean even the photo of Big Brown's shoe coming off during the Belmont is a more interesting moment.

Photo: Adam Coglianese

Do you think the photo that won should have? If not, what photo would you want to see win?


 Handride pointed out that our friends in the TBA have created a photo contest for a new Eclipse Award winner in photography. You should go check out their results and the fun posts with their blogs. Here are some other blogs in the TBA that have also discussed this topic.


Curb My Enthusiasm


Thanks to Marshall for sending me this photo!

Photo: Marshall Blevins/JJ

Caption: A picture of a rainbow over Saratoga race course. The watermark is just to deter people from stealing the photo without asking him first.


Leave a Comment:


Your favorite photo is beautiful, it had more right to win in my oppinion.

07 Jan 2009 5:02 PM

That Saratoga photo is MUCH better.

07 Jan 2009 5:04 PM

Big beautiful Zenyatta. Just my opinion. I think we've seen enough of his leaps from the saddle, even though I like the expression of sheer exuberance and joy.

07 Jan 2009 5:11 PM

Hey Adam, totally agree with you - what is so special about Frankie Dettori doing his typical flying dismount? Your photo gets my vote. Tanzkd

07 Jan 2009 5:27 PM

 I was not impressed one bit by the winning photo. Any picture of of horse racing would have been a better choice. Even a picture of the mountains at Santa Anita would have been better.

07 Jan 2009 6:25 PM
Sandra Warren

I had the same reaction you did seeing the picture of Dettori.  What were they thinking?  He does that after every win.  What's memorable about it regarding 2008?  With so many beautiful photos of horses during the year, especially of Curlin so magnificent in his post parades, what would make them choose this picture as the best of 2008?  I presume they were trying to inspire the excitement of racing. Ho hum.  This choice at least does typify 2008 as the year that racing did everything wrong.

07 Jan 2009 6:29 PM

I was there that day at Saratoga and got a shot; the angle I was at had the rainbow that reached the starting gate over to the finish line. It was really impressive (not so much the photo, just the rainbow.) It summed up how great but rainy Saratoga was that season.

The shot that won ... c'mon ... I've seen him flying dismount before ... Matt Goins won a couple years ago anyway with another jockey shot. Spread the love around! I was very disappointed when I saw it but thought maybe I was just jealous/the only one who didn't like it. No offense to Goins, he's great. Just the image isn't mindblowing.

07 Jan 2009 6:43 PM

The Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance is holding a photo contest do-over.  Tonight is the last night (1/7) to submit photos you've taken at the track, pros and non pros welcomed


07 Jan 2009 7:03 PM

Probably oddest thing of all is that they selected a photo that featured the bad spelling of the Breeders Cup folks in the background. Junenile????

07 Jan 2009 7:56 PM

I felt the same way..."Really?". It is a repeat of Frankie in 99 and I think the previous one is alot better. I also was wondering what the judges were thinking. I can't give a specific photo to replace it with but I have seen several of Zenyatta that are breathtaking and the one you offer up is gorgeous too. There is also a pretty good one of ME with Laffit Pincay Jr at Del Mar that Ron Ellis was kind enough to take this past summer...that is my photo of the year,lol. ;)

07 Jan 2009 8:56 PM

I was also disappointed by the winning photo. Not only have we seen the "famous flying dismount" a few too many times (nothing against Frankie, but if you've seen it once, you've seen it a hundred times), the picture struck me as somewhat average. The rainbow shot is great. I'd have to flip back through my magazines from this year to pick a winner, but I convinced it wouldn't be the one that was chosen.

07 Jan 2009 9:03 PM
Karen in Indiana

The photo that won does capture a moment, but I'd have to ask what the purpose of the award is. Is it for artistic content - the photo you picked is better. Is it for something that had meaning & impact on the industry? Big Brown's Belmont shoe had more impact, what a difference there would have been to the whole industry if he had won! Is it to document an achievement - well, his ride in the Breeder's Cup was an achievement, but there were other horses and people who did greater things. So what was the purpose of the award or is there one?

07 Jan 2009 9:14 PM

I like the one you chose over the one that won...seems too common, like it was done before--I mean, it's Frankie Detorie (sp?, sorry Frankie!) and we knew he was going to do that.  I would have thought something from Dubai or actual racing moments of some the greats would have been up there but I guess not...like you said, out of 365 days of racing, that was the one that won??? Seems to run in line of what they say about Big Brown winning the Derby- that he was up against an inferior crop of the 3 yr olds.  Guess it's the same for the photos- must have been up against an inferior crop of photos from 2008...

07 Jan 2009 9:19 PM

I agree with the author, and was was decidedly underwhelmed by the choice this year.  A few years ago, there was a photo of a filly jumping straight up in the air, almost like a Lippizzan horse, and I felt this was the epitome of Eclipse photography:  being in the right spot at the right time to catch an extraordinary moment.  We all love to watch Frankie Dettori's ebulliant jumps, but it is expected.  Why not choose a moment that is not as obvious, and not seen on the national stage?  Those moments surely are there.

07 Jan 2009 10:02 PM

i know--that was basically my reaction too--'really" and i immediately thought of so many that captured this year better to me and they all were a bit more about the horse(what a concept) than yet another shot of Frankie's dismount--nothing against Frankie or Mr. Goins--it was just a photo that did very little for me.......love the one you posted

07 Jan 2009 10:37 PM
needler in Virginia

By all means, either Rags to Riches' win in the Belmont or Zenyatta strutting her stuff at the BC. But Mr Dettori leaping again?? Nah..........been there, already seen it.........

07 Jan 2009 11:12 PM

I'm sure Matt Goins is a great guy, and congratulations to him for the award - however - !

I, too, was shocked that, of all the photos that were published over all of 2008, this one would be chosen as the best. Is it truly emblematic of what's been a tumultuous, fascinating year in racing? Is it a "once-in-a-lifetime" moment, captured forever by the photographer's lens?

Well, no, on all counts. Frankie Dettori leaping off a horse's back has happened before (many times). There's even an Eclipse-award-winning photo as evidence of that. Stardom Bound had a great juvie career, but was she really emblematic of the year (as, say, Big Brown or Eight Belles might have been)? The fact that she doesn't even appear in the photo in her entirety seems to show that the horse is merely background material in this shot - so much for putting the horse first.

But hey, the photo has plenty of (misspelled) advertisement for the BC so maybe that's what tipped the scales.

08 Jan 2009 8:02 AM

Again, no disrespect to the photographer, but that is an image that has been taken time after time. Frankie D. does that same dismount ALL THE TIME, and while it is interesting, it is not something new or exciting or emotionally provoking. The Eclipse Award for photography should have gone to something more original and interesting.

08 Jan 2009 8:25 AM

I do like what this picture depicts, but it just dosn't get me emotionally, ya know? It dosn't stand out enough in my openion.

Justine/barb: I think a beautiful shot of Zenyatta would be a great one. A photo with Pincay and Ellis and you would be fun also =)

Donna: I am huge nature fan and Mountains at Santa Anita or the Ocean at Del Mar would be wonderful.

jj: If you have the image and would like me to post it with your credit of course, you can email it to me at aspradling@bloodhorse.com, it would be nice to share. I think that if the same photographer takes a great picture two years in a row is fine, but it has to be a special picture.

handride: I am so sorry I didn't see that, I would have helped promote that, I'll append the blog and add your link and for peeps to go see the results, thanks for that. It should be fun to see what people think! thoroughbredbloggersalliance.blogspot.com

Pat: I thought that was pretty funny and embarrassing for the BC as well, hehe.

Karen: You have a good point, what are the judging stipulations?

08 Jan 2009 8:43 AM

I so agree with you, when I saw the photo that won, i thought "we see him doing this ALL the time!" I mean it's a nice photo with precision timing...but "duh"

I thought the absolute most moving photo for me this year (and i'm not even a super fan) was the photo after the Belmont of Mike Ivarone with his head against the forehead of Big Brown...it's choking me up while I write this...it was SO real, so poignant.

08 Jan 2009 3:23 PM

Ya I agree that photo is pretty blah.

08 Jan 2009 9:24 PM

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