Not Eclispe Winners but Great Nonetheless

Curlin arrives in California (Charles Pravata)

This break in 1994 profiling is brought to you by disbelief. There I was, in the middle of my mid-afternoon malaise, when I noticed this item announcing the Eclipse winning photo for the year. Surprised, I immediately tweeted “There are many more deserving photos than this one”. Others agreed.

What’s wrong with the winning photo you ask? Nothing. It’s a perfectly nice photo, perhaps too perfectly. In fact I think it’s the image equivalent of a press release. As Patrick points out, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other photos of Dettori hopping off a horse when he wins.

I’d like to humbly submit the following 20 photos that made an impression on me at some point during this year for your consideration. While I have no idea what the criteria is for an Eclipse award is besides probably, at the very least, being published somewhere other than GbG, I chose shots that 1) were taken this year and 2) felt like solid stand alone images that either spoke to an event this year or what makes racing great overall.

I put this list together relatively quickly and it’s by no means comprehensive. Sorry that I can’t put it in a slide show, they’re not my images!

Big Brown the day after winning the Derby – Charles Pravata

Big Brown in the Belmont – Corrado Photography

Alan Garcia after the Belmont – Raymond Haddad

Big Brown in the paddock at Monmouth – Sarah K. Andrew

Casino Drive greets the kids of Anna House – Sarah K. Andrew

Fairgrounds Racing – Championship Racing

Fairgrounds Racing – Championship Racing

Jackie Davis with dad former jockey Robbie Davis after her first race – Kristen Davis

Ginger Punch out of the gate in the Go For Wand – Jessie Holmes

Zaftig and Indian Blessing in the Acorn – Jason Moran

Notional and Joe Bravo after winning the Salvatore Mile – Sarah K. Andrew

Outrider captures a runaway at Saratoga – Sarah K. Andrew

Ocean Colors after finishing last in the Schuylerville – Sarah K. Andrew

Evening Attire’s retirement party – Melissa Wirth

Zenyatta after winning the Clement L. Hirsch – Charles Pravata

Curlin arrives in California – Charles Pravata

Curlin working at Santa Anita – Charles Pravata

Larry Jones and Old Fashioned before the Remsen – Sarah K. Andrew

We need more of this – Jason Moran

If you had to pick one of Dettori at the BC – Rick Samuels

It’s a tough call if I had to pick one. I love them all but I can narrow it down to Casino Drive with the Anna House kids, Big Brown in the paddock at Monmouth, Evening Attire’s retirement and Larry Jones with Old Fashioned.

What images did you like this year? I’m sure I’ve overlooked some great ones!

Update, check out Patrick’s post… I hadn’t noticed but Juvenile is misspelled!! After thinking about it this morning, I would have to concur with GbG pal and commenter Kevin of Colin’s Ghost on 2 points 1) the pic of Big Brown’s butt losing the Belmont should win and 2) the award should go to a photographer, not a single photograph.

27 thoughts on “Not Eclispe Winners but Great Nonetheless

  1. Kevin

    The shot of Big Brown’s butt should have won. I also love the Larry Jones photo. What they should do is give the eclipse to a photographer and not a single photograph. My nomination would go to Sarah Andrew – she is awesome. I found out about her through GbG. Thanks!

    As pointed out at Handride — “Juvenile” is misspelled in the winning image. Priceless!

  2. dana

    Yeah, I was thinking about that this morning… the shot of Big Brown’s butt really sums it all up.

    And you’re right, it should go to a photog, and I would definitely give it to Sarah this year with an honorable mention to Charles and Raymond (but with big shout outs to Jason, Bud, and Jessie too… they’re all great).

    I saw that at Handride (and didn’t notice in the image!), TOO FUNNY… I would agree that the photo should have won if they would have included a statement about the misspelling and that the image perfectly summed up the over the top commercialism that has befallen the game. Like that would ever happen.

  3. Charles Pravata

    Thanks for the kind words. In order for a photo to win the eclipse, it needs to have been published (Not sure about online qualifying etc.) You also have to submit the photo for consideration to eclipse awards along with a fee $ etc. I myself did not submit any (never have), and i dont think Sarah did either. I know that some of my photos that you mentioned have been published, but not sure about the others.

    You can win the award by getting one good shot all year. (this does not apply to Matt Goins, he’s a great photog)

    The problem with awarding people for a body of work is that not all of us have the same distribution avenues. If I work for someone who has an exclusive contract with a certain publication, I am IN, and the rest of the photogs are OUT.

    Having more exposure doesn’t make you the best etc.

    Plus, alot of publications dont put the photogs name in the buyline etc. There have been alot of my photos published that dont have my name in the buyline etc. So, people dont know it’s me anyway.

    These are just more examples of how this industry is so disjointed.

    we do it because we love to..etc.etc.etc

  4. Charles Pravata

    Dear Dana,

    You have done more for racing photogs than most. we thank you! Through this blog, i have come to know and admire the work of all of the above mentioned racing photographers. Thanks again you hipster!!


  5. Charles Pravata

    I think they should give the award to longtime photogs who have benefited the industry over a period of time.

    People like Bud Morton, Bill Mochon, Shig Kikkawa, Tom Baker, the Benoit crew etc. And many others.

    Of course, Barbara Livingston, Mike Marten, Skip Dickstein, etc. The have all won before though. (Not sure if Bud has)

    Sarah, Jessie, Raymond, Jason, myself, we’d all get ours in due time, and i’d be happy to wait behind the above mentioned, as well as many others.

    I think i would feel like a cheater to win an eclipse award before many of the older photogs. They would certainly deserve it more than me.

  6. dana

    Hey CP – thanks for the insight on how it works! I don’t really know the ins and outs but always assumed that the channels of distribution for photographers were just as convoluted as the rest of the game. Shame.

    I should point out too that I only chose images from flickr, I know you have a lot of great stuff on (your shots of Stardom Bound are phenomenal!), I think SKA has stuff with Equiphoto and her own site (, but has his own site (, etc.

    well, consider all the photogs I mentioned, and feature here regularly as recipients of “people choice awards” if nothing else! everyone always comments to me how stellar the photos are on GbG.

    Ha ha, re: hipster. I have one friend who calls me the hipster handicapper although I think I’m technically too old to be a hipster. perhaps recovering hipster is more appropriate.

  7. Kerry

    Great pictures! Love the one of Casino Drive and the kids.

    There’s also a great one by Ray Paulick that’s been sent in to the TBA photo contest, of Iavarone and family in despair after the Belmont … same theme as Big Brown’s butt, different angle.

    The picture that won the Eclipse award was just a real head scratcher. It’s not that it’s a terrible photo, but the first thing that struck me was that the horse’s nose is cut off. So I immediately thought the photographer had made a mistake. Very odd.

  8. bud

    Charles, Thanks from this “old time” photographer for inclusion on your list. Respect from your peers is much more valuable to me than any statue.

    Guidelines for Eclipse photo submission can be found at

    Yup, it has to be published and although I have my some of my images published in American Turf Monthly ones I feel worthy don’t usually get published. When chimping my images after The Personal Ensign this summer I saw a frame and my first reaction was that I would enter it if it got published. Although ATM didn’t use it, a friend who works at a racing publication helped to get it published. The link to my submission is

    The younger generation of racing photographers is a group with incredible talent and creativity. The tools you have to work with were unheard of when I started photographing racing in the late 80’s. I have started mentoring several of you and now am learning more from your vision than contributing to yours.

    Alex, Charles, Holly, Jason (remembers my from when he was a kid), Sarah and Jessie. Keep up the great work

  9. suebroux

    Dana – you’ve posted some excellent photos! I love the photo of Ocean Colors; poignant. And as your bevy of photographers have indicated, it has to be a published photo, which includes but is not limited to Al-Adiyat.

    And thanks for continually posting great shots throughout the year!

  10. Jason

    My personal opinion – The winning photo is a nice shot…however the 100+ photographers who were in the winner’s circle that day also have the same shot (not to mention that a “Leaping Dettori” photo has won before).

    The following are my choices for photos of the year. Each of them tell their own story or are just compelling as a stand alone photo.

  11. dana

    Kerry – that shot by Paulick is fantastic!

    Bud – I remember that Personal Ensign shot, so great! And there are a couple of photogs you mentioned that I don’t know, which is exciting. There really are a lot of great photographers, both seasoned and up and comers.

    Sue – I love that shot of Ocean Colors too. Teresa, my pal Swifty and I stood in the paddock in the down pour (under 1 small umbrella) to see her. And, I guess those judges needed some Old Style.

    Jason – all great!

    Here are few others:

    Shot in 2007, or would have been on my original list:

    Didn’t remember these while compiling my original list: (no hands, impressive!) (new, how could I have forgotten this one?)

    Obviously I could go on and on, there really is just a LOT of great work out there.

    If anyone is having trouble commenting, please email me your comment and I’ll post it.

  12. John S.

    I’ll tell you what, I’d hate to win the Eclipse Award and then excitedly search around the Web to see who’s patting me on the back only to find a blog cutting me down with a pile of other photos and a heaping helping of anti-my-picture comments. It may not be the best, but it’s the winner, and I’m going to offer my congratulations.

  13. John S.

    p.s. — I do like the look on Evening Attire in that picture. That’s the closest I’ve ever seen a horse look like he’s smiling in recognition of adoration!

  14. dana

    Fair points John. My issue isn’t so much with the picture itself as it is with the judges selecting it, a fine distinction that I was hoping was apparent. And I don’t think calling it a nice photo is cutting it down! One commenter even called Matt Goins a great photographer!

    In fact, I don’t think any thing said here is a specific cut down to the image itself, everyone seems to agree that it’s not a bad image, just a strange choice.

    And yes, that pic of Evening Attire is pretty uncanny!

  15. Turk

    I see better pictures every week that stream in on flickr from fans and internet horse racing bloggers. I too was taken that this was considered the best photo of the year.

    I’m a big fan of GbG. Have a good New Year!

  16. dana


    Thanks for the link. All I said about these images were that they made an impression on me at some point during the year, not that images published on flickr, “blogspot” (check the url, no blogspot here) or any non-commercial independent blog should qualify for the eclipse awards. My remark about being pretty sure that images published GbG don’t qualify was a JOKE.

    Please comment in your own name next time.

  17. Melissa Wirth

    Awww, thanks, Dana! I appreciate the addition of my Evening Attire photo. I’m pretty new to this and would never expect my photos to win awards anytime in the near future. I agree with C. Pravata that longtime photogs like Bud should receive special recognition for the work they have done over the years for the industry. I can’t even imagine using film for this! If film was the only thing available right now, I definitely would not be doing this…Film and I never got along very well. πŸ™‚ For the photo that won the Eclipse, I do believe there are much more deserving pictures, but it’s all for show anyway. What are ya gonna do? The love of the sport and recognition of fellow photographers that are actually out there in the sweltering heat, freezing cold, rain, and snow with you is the only thing that should really matter…

  18. Melissa Wirth

    Also a huge thank you to Bud for personally helping me and I look forward to working with you for many years to come! πŸ˜€ His mentoring has helped many of us on your list more than words can express.

  19. Angela

    I totally agree… I mean, they said it was THAT photo which won the Eclipse, I thought ” Haven’t I seen that photo before?” And, did you notice that the word Juvenile (in the signage in the background) is misspelled? *sigh*

  20. Sarah K Andrew

    Dana, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about the process and for sharing your list of top photos of 2008. I’m truly honored to be included on your list and thrilled to see so many of my favorite photos and photographers included in the discussion.

    I’m very pleased that Matt won the award, but I’m concerned that I only know of only one person who submitted for the award. Most of my colleagues did not submit any work even though they had many photos that were eligible. Some photographers do not agree with the selection process and some don’t want to submit the kind of photos that win the award.

    As the economy worsens, be prepared to see the quality of images slump as budgets tighten. While folks normally get along pretty well, I’ve seen the claws come out on a few occasions. In a competitive, catty, and sometimes cruel industry, it’s a real treat to shoot with people like Bud Morton, Charles Pravata, Deborah Tracy-Kral, Alysse Jacobs, Jessie Holmes, and Jason Moran. Bud Morton is the best in the business. He has provided so much help and inspiration to me and to many others. Bud is all class, and his photos are awesome. I have not spent as much time shooting with Charles (that whole east/west coast thing is a bugger), but he’s another photographer whose immense talent matches his professionalism.

    Thank you for all the great work you do, Dana. And rock the vote on TBA!!!

  21. dana

    Wow Sarah, thanks for sharing those insights! It’s interesting to note that some photographers take issue with the selection process. I don’t really find it surprising based on what I’ve learned about it through all of the various discussions.

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