Spring is easing its way into my home in central Georgia, with the first Monday in March showing up on the cooler side, which was welcome to me.
It’s been three years since I moved East of Atlanta from Southern California, and winter has changed too quickly to summer two out of three years since I became a resident.
I’m a fan of spring. It’s my favorite season. I love how everything is new and how the days get longer as the world is reborn. Trees and flowers bud and bloom, and I’m reminded of what is possible.
I’ve watched Kentucky Derby prep races with significant interest, and stood in my living room to urge on my favorite in last weekend’s Fountain of Youth Stakes. (Good Magic was third, coming on down the homestretch and running well, in my opinion, after a four month layoff.)
In truth, I miss the track. I miss the barns on the backside and the workouts and the anticipation of race days.
It’s been a little over a year since the remarkable chestnut stallion who monopolized my lens for three years retired to the rolling green pastures of Taylor Made Farms in Nicholasville, Kentucky. I miss my friends - the team at Sherman Racing Stables and the “support staff” who traveled to be at every race they could manage. And I miss that gorgeous champion, California Chrome.
My last trip with Chrome and his team was the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at the end of January, 2017, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. My experience with Team Sherman and California Chrome was serendipitous. My initial impulse was to just walk away and accept that it had been an ordained moment that could never be recreated.
I still believe that, and feel certain that my tenure with this team will likely never be eclipsed….but I’ve got an itch.
Lexington, Kentucky calls to me.
In early January of 2017, and again in September, my friends at Taylor Made invited me to work the Thoroughbred sales at Keeneland. The work was incredibly challenging, and the weather in January was daunting, but being around the horses made it all worthwhile. I encourage everyone I know who is a horse lover to visit Lexington, and to experience a sale at Keeneland at least once in their lifetime.
This past October, my family made their annual pilgrimage to Lexington. My older brother and his family moved to Kentucky more than twenty years ago, and going to the races at Keeneland is a family-favorite outing. Without press credentials or a team to follow, I was a general spectator, and it was fun. I enjoyed the afternoon with my family, strolled out to the rail for each post parade, watched Eclipse Award winning owner/breeder Ken Ramsey walk his triumphant colt into the winners' circle, and saw three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey, Calvin Borel, at work.
Keeneland is a special place, and the track lends itself to exceptional photography opportunities without the need for the special access that a press pass provides. I enjoyed my time as a “civilian” and loved the images I captured. But it left me wanting more…
It’s time to get back to work.
The Blue Grass Stakes will run opening weekend of Keeneland’s spring meet, on April 7. I’ll be in attendance, taking photographs and writing about the experience. If everything works out, I should have a “warm up” at Laurel Park next weekend with four stakes racing on March 17.
Let me know which horses you like, and come along for the ride.
Watching Ken Ramsey walk his winning horse into the winners' circle was a special treat!