April 29th marked the 82nd year of Thoroughbred Horse racing at Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois. As many of you know, I got hooked on photographing these races last year. I find the horses a great example of grace and power and the jockeys ability to ride these beautiful animals at breakneck speed fascinating. My good friend, Paulette Cigliano, took me under her wing and helped me learn the ins and outs of horse racing at Fairmount.
The people who train and support these horses do it, at least part of it, out of a deep love. There isn’t a lot of money going around these days at horse racing tracks. Especially at the tier of tracks that Fairmount is in. When a major track like Churchill Downs is having to take nearly 18% of the tote to keep its status, you can imagine Fairmount management’s distress at being cut out of the current bill that let’s all the other tracks in Illinois have slots EXCEPT Fairmount (with its 1400 jobs). Some sort of back room deal concerning East St. Louis and the Casino Queen. Illinois politics is a mess…. I will just leave it at that.
They say if the current bill passes that this could be the last year that Fairmount operates as a racing track. If that is so, then I plan to take as many images as I can…….. not so much as documentation but as a reminder of a sport that combines athleticism of people and horses with the color and drama of racing.
Here is a slide show of a few opening day images ( still have many to process 🙂 )