Although Maximum Security crossed the finish line before long shot Country House, Maximum Security was disqualified and the victory was awarded to Country House after Maximum Security was judged to have cost War of Will and Long Range Toddy a better placing in the race when he swerved into their path, causing them to check strides.
The 145th Kentucky Derby
Nine years of covering turn 4 of this historic race, finally history was made on the top of the turn.
After a five-year hiatus from covering the Kentucky Derby due to economic downturn and just not as much media coverage, McClatchy News picked me up to photograph the start gate, turn 4 and the top of the home stretch of the 145th Kentucky Derby.
My math may be a bit foggy but I think this was my 23rd Derby. Experience matters when you are attempting to operate seven cameras that cover less than five seconds of total race time on two sides of the track and as well as the starting gate. To add complexity to the situation, one hour before race time the skies opened up and a deluge ensued.
With the assistance of an inside trigger person, a card runner and an outside rail camera wrangler I had some success with all seven cameras capturing what I needed to earn my keep.
The only failure was one camera I had on my person as a backup, wide lens option took on some water damage and died before the start of the race. The camera was a total loss but thanks to the Canon Pro-care Package I purchased when I bought the camera in December, Canon says a new camera is in the mail. Whew! Best $360 I ever spent.
RACE PREPARATION TAKES HOURS
Such a beautiful sight, 8 Canon 1Dx Mark II cameras lined up and waiting to be placed in their remote positions at the crack-of-dawn on Saturday morning.
Even though the camera are in place hours before the race, the staring gate cameras always need pre-race adjustments as the horse are being loaded into the gate for the start of the race. Unfortunately, the gate had to be pulled away for track maintenance leaving us with less than five minutes to unwrap the cameras, set exposure, check focus and make sure they were going to fire. And oh yea, all in pouring rain. That's me on top of the gate in the 9 position – thumbs up, all systems are go. If they weren't, no time to fix it. The horses are moments away from loading.
AND THEY'RE OFF AND RUNNING
Both gate cameras fired right at the start but we experienced an electrical short stopping the cameras after firing only eight frames, less than one second of real-time. We would have preferred another 10 more frames to get the horses a bit further down the track but I'll take what we can get considering the wet condition.
Derby favorite, Maximum Security, in pink silks, comes out of gate 7 along with the rest of the 19 horses at the start of the 145th Kentucky Derby. This was taken by my hand-held camera located in my sitting position on the outside of the track at the top of the stretch.
COMING AROUND TURN 4
With this being one of the tightest Derby ever with only 5 lengths between the front of the pack and the last horse, I am glad I had a 560 mm remote setup on the outside rail covering the pack as they came into the top of the 4th turn. The thunder of the hooves and the collective screaming of 140,000 fans can't be matched at almost any sporting event.
Just one second later from the previous image, my low angle "dirt" camera captures Maximum Security, middle in pink silks, with Luis Saez on board as he battles for the lead with eventual winner, Country House, far left, War of Will, you see just his nose third from right and Code of Honor, closest to camera.
The next two horses after the front four take all the mud as Improbable, left, and Plus Que Parfait jockey for a line coming into the stretch. I just liked this image and the one below in black and white. It was a muddy one under the rail, I'm glad we got what we got considering the track condition. This camera survived the mud.
Another remote camera mounted on the starter's gate captures Plus Que Parfait with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. eating a load of mud. It pays in more ways than one to be in the lead on a sloppy track.
Another remote camera shows just how tight this race was heading in to the stretch.
AND THEY'RE INTO THE HOME STRETCH
Maximum Security, second from right, with Luis Saez up, bumps other horses in the final turn which caused his disqualification during the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday. Country House, left, with Flavian Prat up, left, was declared the winner.
War of Will begins to fade as the remaining three horse come down the stretch.
Eventual Derby winner Country House (left) came in second behind Maximum Security but due to the conflict at the top of turn 4, Maximum Security was disqualified.
Before the rain began to fall, there were hats, hats and more hats.
My abled body and very wet camera wrangler, and daughter Gabi, got to experience her first Derby three years earlier than I did at that age. She did her best to keep my gear dry. Thanks for all the back breaking work and sorry you had to see me take a backwards swan dive off the starting gate.
In the press room - a student of mine caught me showing off a frame from a previous race. I was showing off a bit of my legs as well as I was trying to dry out and cool off. Of course he posts it to his instagram account before I even knew he took it.
It ain't as glamorous as you might think it is. A fine mixture of Kentucky clay and million dollar horse poo and pee covers me after the race.