The Early '90s

Unbridled 1990
With five Derbys photographed, I was finding my comfort zone on the final turn and had terrific assistants working with me. Unbridled and Summer Squall were together on the final turn going for home and we were able to capture a great shot.
I was in the winners circle that year, a very exciting opportunity for me. Equipment for my trip to the winners circle included a 300mm lens on one Nikon body with a 35-70mm zoom lens on the other. Winning owner Mrs. Frances Genter was a great sight that I will never forget.
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Frances Genter
Strike the Gold 1991
In '91 I decided to set a remote camera, 600 mm lens on a tripod, wide enough to capture seven lanes across. Sure enough Strike the Gold ran extremely wide on the final turn. It made for a great image and became part of the opening spread in the magazine, along with my owners section shot.
With a solid crew manning the cameras on the final turn, I photographed the owners section for the first time. The pace is incredibly hectic as owners go from the paddock to their seats in the special Derby owners section. For a brief moment there is a hush over the crowd until the gates open. You see faces full of emotion and anticipation. I followed the race through the owners’ expressions, looking at camera monitors when possible. Later, I would begin to use a radio and earpiece to keep track of the front runner. The owners section is a high risk shot with only four groups of owners on the front row of boxes. All others are buried from our sight since everyone stands during the whole race.

Nick Zito and owners Gail and Giles Brophy made for an exciting image as they celebrated their win.
I would later find out that my mom, a huge racing enthusiast all her life who had taught me how to read the racing form and more, could not attend the Derby as planned due to her advancing cancer. Her final bet was a winning ticket on Strike the Gold.

Final Turn 
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Alydar, sire of Strike the Gold.
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Lil E. Tee 1992
It was great to see Pat Day win the Derby for trainer Lynn Whiting!

Lil E. Tee 

Sea Hero 1993
The venerable duo of Mack Miller and Paul Mellon won their first Derby with Sea Hero. On the walk to the winners circle, I used my Nikon with a 28-70 zoom lens. Perfect for the situation. Outstanding breeding on this Derby winner—Polish Navy out of Glowing Tribute, by Graustark.
Sea Hero Winner

Sea Hero
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Go for Gin 1994
Go for Gin lead the way into the stretch, front and center. At this point I was using the Nikon F4 with the 600mm lens on a tripod. Wonderful combo. Remember Ulises, all alone on the final turn? He caused a slight delay at the start, sped to the lead, and dropped to last.

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Thunder Gulch 1995
I was on a flight earlier in that spring photographing a story on equine air transportation and Thunder Gulch came onto the plane during one of our stops. He was a flashy looking chestnut. He got my attention then and at the Derby.

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Grindstone 1996
It was great to see W.T. Young, who stood Storm Cat at his Overbrook Farm, with a Kentucky Derby winner. Cavonnier, despite flinching after taking a whip across his nose, was right there at the finish just getting beaten by Grindstone. Check out this reaction shot of Cavonnier I caught on the final turn. Does anyone remember that?

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In the next post we will continue our trip through the rest of the '90s and in the 21st century. Hope everyone is enjoying the trip so far!

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