Oaks day weather was gorgeous, and Blind Luck battled down the stretch for the win. The meteorologists predicted major storms for Derby day, and Churchill Downs even held a press conference about the likelihood of horrendous storm systems and winds.
Fortunately, the weathermen were wrong. The day started with rain, fairly heavy at times, and photographers putting in their under-the-rail finish line remotes were quite muddy. Everyone hosed off in the tunnel as they headed back to the media room.
I photographed a wagering feature late morning and then decided to place my own bet, a win ticket on Super Saver. He trained well and consistently during the two weeks I photographed and watched him during the morning workouts. No one paid much attention to him; other Pletcher horses were in the limelight.
Overcast, gloomy, and wet for several undercard stakes finishes, I continued to photograph, edit, and transmit images. The team discussed whether we should run a gate remote for the Derby. Should we risk the equipment getting wet? We decided not to run the camera, because the forecast did not look good.
And then something exceptional happened after General Quarters won the Woodford Reserve. The skies cleared and the sun appeared. Amazing!
The Kentucky Derby is such an incredible sporting event. You can feel the buzz. After shooting each contender and jockey leaving the paddock, I joined the throng of people as they headed down the tunnel. I went to my assigned position and sat on a stool close to the ground. (All photographers must kneel or sit during the race.)
After the start I photographed the horses coming by for the first time and checked my exposure. Then I watched the race on the JumboTron. The roar of the crowd picked up as the field turned for home. Number 4 (Super Saver) flashed on the screen. Calvin Borel was going to do it again, moving through a hole near the rail and making his move on the inside.
I photographed Super Saver through the stretch run, and Borel who started to celebrate near the finish. I selected this finish of Super Saver with all four off the ground to submit to the Web and magazine. The WinStar team worked their way across the track and into the winner's circle. Borel is so great for the sport with his passion for racing as he parades Super Saver to the winner's circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher, assistant Mike McCarthy, and the WinStar team were very animated as they celebrated their first Derby win.
A special and memorable 25th Derby for me.
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