Kentucky Derby
Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
May 1, 1965

The Kentucky Derby was always one of my favorite events; I've lost track of how many I've covered, at least 15. As a photographer, one of the things that always made the Derby special was the old grandstand at Churchill Downs. I like traditional stadiums that everybody can name, and you don't have to be a sports fans to know Churchill Downs and its famous twin spires. Every year I would look for a new way to include the spires in my photos. The traditional picture is the wide-angle finish line shot, with the camera positioned under the rail, spires off to the left. What I tried to do was take something that was not the traditional picture, so I mounted a remote camera on a tower at the far turn, only instead of pointing it into the turn, I pointed it down toward the starting gate. This angle not only gave me a good portion of the crowd in the grandstand, but also included the huge infield crowd. Most importantly, it was a very different view of the twin spires, looking down on the whole scene from the background. It's a beautiful moment and it makes me think of all the first Saturdays in May I spent at Churchill Downs. To me, the Derby start is always one of the most exciting moments in the race: You often get a dull one-horse finish, but you never get a dull one-horse start.


The Best of Leifer
The Best of Leifer

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