Not just another day at the Downs. This was my third year attending the Kentucky Derby under the wing of legendary sports photographer, Bill Frakes. I assisted and worked in the studio with him when he was shooting for Sports Illustrated during my college years at Florida State. No one works harder than this man. Seriously.
I set my alarm for 4am in order to be at Churchill Downs by 5:45am with the other assistants. For that wakeup, I am thankful. Witnessing the track waking up, the calm media room before the storm, breathing in the horses and the anticipation of the most exciting day in sports can’t be done by sleeping in.
Most of the day I was on my own to shoot for myself – my own little feature story. Then when I took to my post in the fourth turn to check, check again, and triple check on my remote cameras, I took a few iphone snaps. The sky opened up and released a fury of a storm that was thankfully short lived. We unbagged the cameras and settled in for the fastest two minutes in sports.
And just like that… it was over. Collect camera bodies, turn in cards to for the ESPN feature, sort clean and repack gear for their next trip to the Invictus Games in Florida (like I said, hardest working). I ran out to shoot the last race of the day under an angry stormy sky. A few bites of food and goodbye to new friends and old, and I was off to find a cab at 9:45pm in the driving rain.
I will never tire of Kentucky, the pride of its people and the beauty of these incredible animals.