(Cody’s Wish and rider Junior Alvarado wrestle out a victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile despite the efforts of rider Flavien Prat on National Treasure / Photo by Carolyn Simancik)

Thanks Be to Photographer Extraordinaire Carolyn Simancik…
Due to Her Work We Can Celebrate This Year’s Eclipse Awards, Too:

I have never had the pleasure to meet Carolyn Simancik. We have never even talked on the phone or exchanged a text message. No zoom, zoom Zoom. Not even a “Messenger” hit.

But I have to admit right now, I just love the lady.

Well, since we haven’t even exchanged pleasantries, let me say it this way: I just love the work of the lady.

I first became acquainted with Carolyn’s work this past November, during the Breeders’ Cup festivities at Santa Anita. I was back here in Kentucky, celebrating one of the greatest days in all of Thoroughbred racing with friends and family at The Louisville Thoroughbred Society. As fate would have it, Carolyn was in Arcadia and the track as part of the expert camera team for Eclipse Sportswire and the team hired to capture the best races, horses, people, and action of the best races, horses, people and action of one of the best events ever created.

We were world’s apart and didn’t even know that, collectively, we had four eyeballs tuned to the same events and some of the same horses. Most of all, we had our attention and focused — of both mind and camera lenses — tuned and focused to some of the same torrid debates of horse hooves and hearts.

As soon as I watched the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on the TVs at home, I was hoping and praying that someone, somehow captured the stretch duel between the great Champion Cody’s Wish and the hometown speedster National Treasure.

Hoping. Praying.

After all, Cody’s Wish is, and will be forever more, one of my most favorite horses ever — due to both his amazing talent, but also this amazing story.

And…

After all, the 2023 version of the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was one of the most amazing, compelling, thrilling and heart-stopping, heart thrilling, and, eventually, heart breaking moments in the history of our great sport.

So, I ran home — not nearly as fast as Cody’s Wish can run a mile, mind you — to see what the pros had captured; what the artists had rendered; what the camera’s and their owners had painted.

And…

Sure enough, when I got to the computer and started to launch all of the notes and quotes from each of the Championship Stakes events, I found the file featuring Cody’s Wish and I started clicking…and downloading…and saving…

I think I downloaded 15 photos of that one race alone, and I parked each one over into my computer super storage bin for use with the story of how Cody’s Wish had delivered — yet again — one last wish for his biggest fan and soulmate Cody Dorman.

I sifted. I saved. I surfed. I saved. And, I searched. I had to have the right photo to use at the top of the page. I had to have the perfect photo that summed up the race, for sure, but also the horse’s amazing and spiritual deliverance of both guts and courage for one little boy and one amazing family who dreamed to dream the biggest dream of all with one amazing horse that some would say only comes along in dreams.

And…

I found it. At least, for me, I found it.

I found the perfect photo, who spoke to me and to my heart.

I found what Cody, who couldn’t stand at all, but stood for in all the right ways, and was wrapped in one shot. I found what Cody’s Wish stood for and why Thoroughbred lovers love horses like Cody’s Wish. I found Carolyn, although we didn’t know each other then or now.

I found perfection in a work of art.

It was Carolyn’s amazing head-on beauty of the mud-splattered, bulge eye-focused Cody’s Wish, with regular rider Junior Alvarado firmly attached thereto and asking both the impossible, the improbable, and, of course, the possible and the probable all at very same time — one more win. One more chance to meet Cody in the winner’s circle. One more time to drop his head near Cody and tell his buddy, who loved him so, how much the horse loved him back. One more time for the two of them to talk in their own language of love and acceptance. One more moment in time. One more moment for the world to share. One more chance for the two of them to share with all of us normal people the extraordinary power of love and acceptance.

When I found that shot, I knew it would go on The Pressbox homepage and right at the top of the link to the amazing story of the amazing story.

Little did I know that a few months later, that photograph would win the Eclipse Award for photography in our great sport.

I am not surprised that the photo won. I am not shocked that Carolyn won. Just, in a way, I was not surprised or shocked that both Cody and Cody’s Wish won that remarkable day either. They all deserved it then. They all deserve it now.

I am shocked, though, that Carolyn’s amazing photo won because it was published by us. Here. At The Pressbox.

We are nobodies in the publishing world. We are nobodies in the world of commentary that impacts and affects. We are really nobodies. I like to think, sometimes, we are, on some days, the somebodies, who really care about our sport and our industry. I like to think, sometimes we are, on some days, the somebodies who still have a few things to say, or do, or help advocate, or perhaps change.

For the most part, though, we are nobodies.

But, for one shining moment, we were somebody who knew a great photograph when we saw it and we were the somebody who put it to good use. And, we are the somebody who will be standing and cheering when the people in the black ties call Carolyn’s name and present her with an honor and trophy she deserves so much.

We have never met, in person.

But it truly does not matter.

When it comes time to celebrate, we all will unite — the friends and the strangers in unison and hand in hand — to honor the late Cody Dorman, who passed away so tragically on the trip home from the Breeders’ Cup and the great horse that had the honor to carry his name and his legacy into history.

Cody Dorman deserves no less.

Cody’s Wish deserves no less.

Carolyn deserves no less.

And, we are so honored to give them all a leg up on the ride of a lifetime.

Thanks Be to Extraordinary Photographer & Special Friend Holly M. Smith…She Deserves An Eclipse Award, Too, & Due to Her Work, “The Pressbox” Is Better & Is Better to View: 

Here is a sampling of Holly’s work in 2023. I love it. And, I love her.

So lucky to call Holly M. Smith friend…

Thanks Be to the Special Team at Coady Photography, Led by Extraordinary Photographer Kurtis Coady…He Deserves An Eclipse Award, III:

Here is a look at some of the photos that were provided to us by Coady Photography and we found a spot and a place to publish, too.

This team of professionals is as classy as the subjects that aim to capture in all their glory. And, they are even better people than they are photographers. And, that’s a high bar to achieve.

So lucky to call Kurtis, Megan & Team our friends, too. So damn lucky…

 

And, Thanks Be For the Invent of the I-Phone Camera & For The Memories of ’23…Some Great…Some Sad…Some In-Between…All Captured In Pictures & In the Heart…None of These Are Eclipse Worthy, Mind You, But They Are Special To Me…

I take a lot of pictures. Nearly all of them are no good for publishing. Nearly all are either out of focus or out of tune, kind of like my harmonies.

But they are taken with love and kept for memories sake.

We lost our beloved Crosley, an 8-year-old Golden with a heart that matched his color and breed, in March. It was such a sad time. He was truly the man of our family. The only time I remember him ever kissing me was the day we lost him to the Lord. He licked me on the face once, twice, and, maybe, even three times. I still see him at his favorite watering hole — the pier. I tell him to come “this way,” as I always did on our daily walks. He stays behind now. But only in person. Not in spirit.

We found our beloved June Carter a few months later. She is an English Cream Golden Retriever, with a personality as big as Kentucky Lake and beyond. She has become the spirit of our family. And, she kisses me 100 times per day, whether I need them love spits or not. God bless her soul. She helped save ours.

And, we watched the grand kids and kids grow, and we added “Teddy” to the fold about a month ago. God only knows what he will grow up to be or do. But it is a good guess that he will touch our souls, too.

Here’s a few looks of me pretending to be a photographer, too: