For a guy that has been on a horse twice in his life, on worn out trail horses during the Colorado vacations of my youth, it surprises me how much I love horses. I grew up on westerns in movie theaters and on black-and-white television. Big Country, starring Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston, remains an all-time favorite which touches off text messages either to or from friend Mike Van Dyke the minute we find the classic on television. Secretariat remains the greatest athlete in my mind. I love rodeos and horse racing, though I am far from country and know nothing of betting. My sister, Sally, loves horses even more and once rode often. Even today, I wish I could buy her a horse to ride every day. No gift would mean more.
While working in Phoenix from September 1979 through August 1983, I loved any assignment that sent me to the Turf Paradise race track, in what was the northernmost portion of the Valley. There I discovered the early morning workouts on the backside of the track and the wonderful people who made up an area that in some ways was a “paradise” for me.
The wonderment of the horses and the people who train and love these majestic animals continues to captivate me. The sight, and even more so the sound, of a thoroughbred passing in front of my camera at full gallop will always give me chills. I am so thankful to have been able to share those same experiences with Laura last spring at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Since I am currently spending time in the Valley I still love with the KU baseball team, these photographs from November 1979 seem perfectly timed to me.