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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2007-05-23

My Derby Top 10 List
Gary Bogdon shares the greatest things about covering the Kentucky Derby

By Gary Bogdon

Photo by

Gary Bogdon (center) says that beautiful women, in really wild hats are a sight to behold, and as they say... worth the price of admission at the Kentucky Derby.
They call it the 'Greatest Two Minutes in Sports", also known as The Kentucky Derby. I was fortunate enough to cover 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby this year for Sports Illustrated.

That first Saturday in May, always brings back special memories from as far back in my head (and trust me, it's a long stretch) as high school. This was my 24th Derby (but my first for SI), and it was just as much fun, and exciting as my first. I grew up in the greater metropolitan Louisville area, so it was all familiar ground to me.

I've always said that it is my favorite sport to photograph (and watch) because of the tradition, pageantry, and the beauty of the thoroughbreds thundering to the finish. There is nothing like hearing over 100,000 people singing 'My Old Kentucky Home'. If you've never been (either as a photographer or a fan) you should book your tickets now, because there is nothing else like it.

Here is my top ten list of the greatest things about covering the Kentucky Derby:

1 - The sights, sounds, and even the smell of Churchill Downs on Derby Day. (No jokes please, as my nostrils are flared )

2 - Beautiful women, in really wild hats. It is a sight to behold, and as they say... worth the price of admission.

3 - Hearing the vendors working the aisles and yelling out " Mint Juleps for sale! Get your Mint Juleps ! ..." (Sounds and looks delicious, taste is nasty!)

4 - Seeing old friends and great photographers all in one place- Bill Frakes, (SI), Bill Luster, (Louisville Courier Journal), Andy Lyons (Getty), Ron Garrison (Lexington Herald Leader), David Coyle (Team Coyle), John Sommers (Reuters), Tom 'Bugs' Moran and Ed Reinke (AP) just to name a few. It's really a wonderful bunch of photojournalists, whom I have so much respect for and have shared so many laughs with over the years. It reminds me of why I got into the business.

Photo by Gary Bogdon / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Gary Bogdon / Sports Illustrated

Gary Bogdon got a "Leading Off" doubletruck in Sports Illustrated from The Derby.
5 - Getting world renowned horse photographer Tony Leonard (who is in his mid 80's) to sing a few bars of "My Old Kentucky Home', in the press room. He is awesome. He has seen it all, and has the best attitude in the world. He is sure to put a smile on your face.

6 - Getting up at 4:30am in the morning to be at the track by 5:00am to photograph 'Dawn at the Downs'. It's the predawn workouts of all of the horses, and the entire goings on in and around the 'backside' of the track.

7 - Hearing Steve Buttleman (Official Bugler of Churchill Downs) playing the "Call to the Post" before the race. He can play that thing, (not sure if he can play any other tune though)

8 - Trying to convince someone at the media party that Courier Journal photographer and Louisville legend, Bill Luster, is a retired jockey, and rode in the 1967 Kentucky Derby. There is a direct link between believing this story and the number of mint juleps the listener has consumed. You do the math.

9 - Eating a 'low fat' ( Ha! ) breakfast at 'Wagner's Pharmacy' near the backside of Churchill Downs. This is not an approved meal by any cardiologist, especially mine. Approach with caution.

10 - Standing on the dirt, and hearing over 150,000 screaming fans as 20 of the finest athletes (on four legs) in the world thunder to the finish, and then think to yourself.... Did I get that?


(Gary Bogdon is a freelance photographer, and a regular contributing photographer for Sports Illustrated, based in Orlando, FL. There is no truth to the rumor that he too is a retired jockey and rode 'My Aching Back' in the 1978 Kentucky Derby.)

Related Links:
Bogdon's member page

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