143rd Preakness Stakes

Last Saturday I covered Preakness for the first time. I’ve covered horse racing before, usually the Hunt Cup, but never Preakness. This time I was on assignment for The Baltimore Business Journal*Do not share, publish, or use photos without permission. 

This year jockey Mike Smith and Kentucky Derby winner Justify won Preakness which makes the possibility for a Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes!

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The Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few horses that did not start in the Derby. The Preakness is ​1 316 miles, or ​9 12furlongs, compared to the Kentucky Derby, which is ​1 14 miles / 10 furlongs. It is followed by the third leg, the Belmont Stakes, which is ​1 12 miles / 12 furlongs. [read more here]

I went into it pretty blind. I missed out on the photo briefing the day before because of some family issues I had to attend to, so when I showed up on the day of Preakness things were pretty chaotic. It rained for an entire week before, so Pimlico was nothing but a mudslide. Mix the misting rain and humidity and you also have a thick and heavy fog that hung over the racetrack. I love the fog because it creates such a beautiful dreamscape.

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I brought two cameras, the usuals; a Fuji XT2 and a Canon 5D Mark III. I shot mostly with a 100-400mm and a 24-105mm. I didn’t really have a shot list for this one, so I got to cover it at my own discretion. I loved that. I wasn’t pressured to get certain shots, just to document it as I saw fit. I am so grateful for editors that let me have the leeway to stay true to my vision as a photojournalist. I’ve shot NFL, MLB, high school football and high school basketball as well as running marathons, so I’m not new to sports photography at all. Horse racing though is a class of its own.

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I mostly stayed to the right where the other photojournalists stayed but I also tried to switch it up by shooting near the gate or on the left side where spectators were standing. It was a challenge claiming a spot but my height really helped me out. I found that, as with most sports, anticipating a shot and getting in place before it happens is key to capturing what you have planned out in your head. Other times I surprised myself by getting some moments that I didn’t plan for. The quiet moments were my favorite captures.

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Despite the mudslide, a lot of people seemed to just not give a shit. The Infield, an entirely different world from the racetrack, was an insane mess of people, mud, lost loafers, and empty drink cups. I wore tall rubber boots, a last minute choice.

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Overall, I think I did an alright job. Next time I know I’ll do a lot better because I’ll be more prepared and know what it’ll be like. I don’t think I did too bad for my first go around though. Did any of you go? What was your experience like?

4 thoughts on “143rd Preakness Stakes

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