While in Paris in 1972, Alain Tartavel, a fellow photojournalist invited me to join him at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse, the birthplace of flat races. The big race that day was the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe race which was then considered to be the greatest horse race in the world.
I had never photographed at a race track, nor had any prior knowledge of horse racing other than attending local race tracks and placing two dollar bets on unknown horses. Fortunately that day, I brought my camera bag along and attempted to photograph the horses in the earlier races. Not having the proper equipment to photograph the actual races, I took out my Leica M3 and began photographing the people in the grandstands and in the owner’s circle.
When photographing people on the streets, I always had to avoid being noticed before taking a photograph. At the race tracks the fans were so involved with the races that they seldom realized they were being photographed. I could stand directly in front of them and photograph continuously during each race.
After returning to the U.S., I started photographing at race tracks in North America. The first U.S. race track was Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York for the running of the Travers Stakes race. That day in 1973, Secretariat was saddled and paraded for the fans to see the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Saratoga Race Course is the oldest horseracing venue in the United States.
The photographs in this book are from: Longchamps Racecourse (France: Hippodrome de Longchamp), Saratoga Race Course (New York), Evangeline Down Race Track and the New Orleans Fairgrounds (both in Louisiana), Exhibition Park/Hastings Race Track (Vancouver, B.C., Canada).