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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2008-04-29

Winning Moments: Best Action: 'Broken Leg'
'A lump formed in my throat as I fought back tears.'

By Jamie Rhodes

Photo by Jamie Rhodes

Photo by Jamie Rhodes

Michael Kinane dismounts from George Washington as the horse breaks down in the Breeders Cup Classic. George Washington was later euthanized due to the broken front leg.
(Editors Note: We asked those awarded 1st place in the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest to write a short piece to give us a behind-the-scenes look at what went into their winning entry. To see all of the winners in this years contest, check this link: http://www.sportsshooter.com/2007_contest_winners/index.html.)

There are times in life when we have to grit our teeth and gut it out during miserable shooting situations. Halfway into my second day straight of pouring rain during the Breeders Cup Championships on October 26th and 27th in Monmouth Park, New Jersey, I feared I would be hard-pressed to produce any quality images from the event.

Fortunately the sky cleared about an hour before the final and most prestigious race, the Breeders Cup Classic.

My photo director had told me to set up in the middle of the stretch before the finish line. "That's where the winner will make the move," she said. Just like clock work, Robby Albarado guided Curlin past Hard Spun right in front of me.

As I followed the leaders through, I heard someone gasp, "There's a horse breaking down." I immediately panned back and began shooting again as George Washington went nose first into the mud, his broken front leg dangling at a sick angle.

A lump formed in my throat as I fought back tears. I knew from the looks of the injury that the horse wouldn't leave the track alive. I made a few frames of the reaction of the stunned crowd, then attended to the task of capturing some celebration from the winning jockey. A few minutes later, George Washington was put down at the request of his trainer.

Later when I was editing on my laptop in the media room, I got mixed reactions about the image from my fellow photographers. "I hope that photo never sees the light of print!" uttered a regular from an industry horse racing publication. The horse racing industry doesn't want this type of moment to be seen or remembered.

Quite frankly, it wasn't the story of day or even the secondary story of the day. When it was all said and done, I walked away with the cover photo of the winner making his move, but I was haunted by the image of a gallant athlete giving his all till the end.

(Technical Notes: Nikon Professional Service was kind enough to let me test-drive the D3 during the event. The camera allowed me the ability to shoot the photos at 1/1250 f2.8 ISO 2500 with superb results.)

Related Links:
Jamie's member page

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