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Derby Week update

May 4, 2006 by David Stephenson  
Filed under David Stephenson, Snappers, Sports

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One of the best tips I had this week should be credited to Louisville photographer David Harpe. Why I hadn’t thought of it before, I don’t know. He passed along to me the radio frequency for the spotters who follow the Derby and Oaks horses during workouts on the track. One of the most difficult things about working on the backside during Derby week is trying to pick out the Derby horses from the hundreds of other thoroughbreds working out in the mornings. Sometimes they wear their saddlecloths which identify them, many times they do not. The spotters, who are stationed at various points around the track, know these horses well, with or without saddlecloths. They call out locations of the horses each time the see them.

For the last two days, I kept the scanner in one ear listening to the spotters, and a two-way radio in the other ear with Herald-Leader photographer Mark Cornelison on the other end. With that combination, we were able to shoot every Derby horse at Churchill yesterday, and two or three others that were on the bubble at the time. I’ll not be without that scanner again.

Amongst all the chatter about horses this morning, I heard talk about retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey being on the track working on a production with ESPN. It wasn’t a moment later that I heard his exact location and was there within minutes to shoot his photo as he was removing the camera gear from his helmet and vest.

Another one of my favorite shots from today is of A.P. Warrior as he was grazing with trainer John Sherriffs by his barn. I normally try to exclude other photogs from photos, but I thought these shooters lined up nicely and gives a good representation of the attention the horses and trainers get.


Below is a snapper of Steven King as he was supposed to collecting audio from the Derby Draw last night. Apparently it wasn’t going too well, but he managed to survive and has produced some killer multimedia content for and The Herald-Leader contracted King to help out with our multimedia content for this year’s Derby. You can see what we’ve been up to by viewing three audio slideshows from Derby Week and the daily slide shows from the backside. On top of all that, Steven has posted the first in a series of 360-degree panoramic photos.


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