The first Saturday in May. The best two minutes in sports. The Biggest Horse Race of The Year. The Kentucky Derby. While we love the hats, the cocktail dresses, the absurd linen suits, we’re really there for the athletes — both the horses and the jockeys, and the daring photographers who get up close and personal. If you’re not one of the 150k guests swarming Churchill Downs this weekend, these five feeds will get you pretty darn close to the real thing.
The Bloodhorse may have the most legit roots come Derby Week. The original print magazine quickly became the paper of record for serious racers when it launched in 1916, and that it’s headquartered in Lexington is more to the point: the magazine has reporters stationed all over Churchill Downs, all contributing to the same Instagram and Twitter feed.
Near-indicipherable racing stats have been this daily’s bread-and-butter since its first issue printed in Chicago in 1894. Here’s one of their star reporter Marty McGee’s recent posts: “Inner turf rail out 22 feet yet closers still dominate R8 as Dynazar (16-1) rallies for @JulienLeparoux and @DallasStewart3. 7-10-9-2. #CD.” The Instagram feed is way more fun, admittedly: barn cats, horses getting baths, training shots, empty tracks. This is the Derby you won’t see on TV.
You know what they say: behind each good horse, is a good jockey, and Victor Espinoza is that man. He led Pharoah and Chrome to Derby victory the past few years, and he’s a Triple Crown winner himself—not that you’d ever know from his humble feed. It has a “just a a guy and his horse, simple pleasures” type of vibe, with sweet, earnest captions like “#Chromie.” With all the betting and spectacle, it’s a nice reminder that this is ultimately a business about, well, a guy and his horse.
No one has a better seat and access clearance than an official photographer. Meet Alex Evers who, undaunted by pounding hooves mere inches from his lens, takes some pretty monumental action shots. You know that saying, “wins by a nose”? Alex captures exactly that.
You could say that Santa Anita Park is a rival of Churchill Downs, both being major American racetracks. But everyone’s a good sport on the first Saturday in May, it seems. The track’s hosting its own party this weekend, and thank goodness: without them, we may not have what’s basically a dedicated party pics feed.