Tonight was the Travers Stakes race at Saratoga Racecourse and Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah did not win. He really didn’t have to because just appearing at this year’s Saratoga meet caused a major frenzy that really boosted track attendance. This blogger was not among the 50,000 people in attendance at the Traver’s Stakes. I did the next best thing and went to the Friday track warm-ups, which broke a record with over 15,000 people who came for just a glimpse of the horse that won the Triple Crown.
Saratoga Racecourse didn’t open for visitors until 7am on Friday and my friend and I arrived about 6:30am. We took a trip across the street to the Oklahoma Track where we got some great shots of the horses practicing in the morning fog at sunrise. Once we actually arrived at Saratoga’s main track where one can usually enjoy a leisure breakfast while watching the thoroughbreds warm up, we saw the very large crowd of people waiting for a glimpse of racing royalty. There was no room at the rail, people were planted in prime positions and would not move. My friend and I were shooting with cameras held high overhead to try and get some photos when a very gracious woman named Karen offered to trade her place when American Pharoah entered the track in exchange for one of my images.
The Triple Crown winning thoroughbred entered the track at 8:45am as promised escorted by a safety horse. They made one stop in front of the winner’s circle and one quick lap around the track before exiting promptly. People were frantically snapping photos on their cell phones and digital cameras. It was over in what seemed like seconds as the hoard of people now moved en masse to the parking areas where it took my friend and I about 40 minutes to get to Union Avenue. Despite the inconvenience, the opportunity was immensely enjoyed resulting in the following images. These images were shot with the FujiFilm X-T1 and the Fujinon XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. Most of the images were shot at 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 at IS0 640. Continuous, wide area tracking autofocus was used with continuous high speed frames (8 frames/sec). Please do not copy or reproduce my images, they are my intellectual property and quite a bit of effort was spent creating them.