Dec. 29--Lexington free-lance photographer Matt Goins called it a "freak accident."
But he also thinks it was meant for his camera to have been perfectly positioned at Keeneland last April 28 so he could capture the moment when a horse threw its jockey one-sixteenth of a mile from the finish line, while a packed grandstand watched.
"The odds of this happening again are a trillion to one," Goins said yesterday after the announcement that he had won the 2006 Eclipse Media Award for Photography for the photograph he took on assignment for the Herald-Leader. The photo was published April 29.
"Winning the Eclipse Award for a Kentucky boy is just as important as winning the Oscar," said Goins, who "started going to the races when I was in diapers." Back then he went to see his late grandfather, Ernest Goins, race claiming horses.
His "magical day" last April, he said, began with a phone call to Herald-Leader photo assignment editor Tom Woods. Goins had been convalescing for 16 days from an appendectomy. He said he was restless and wanted to get back to work. Woods sent him to Keeneland.
It was the last day of the spring meet, and the last day of racing on the old dirt track before a synthetic Polytrack surface was installed.
Goins got permission from Keeneland's public relations chief, Jim Williams, to put a Canon Digital SLR camera next to the one-sixteenth pole and stand 20 feet away with a remote control.
In the sixth race, for 2-year-olds, Dogwood Stable's Sanibel Storm was ahead by a neck. Then the filly, running its first race, veered into the plastic safety rail and tossed apprentice jockey Julien Leparoux. Neither jockey nor horse was injured.
Goins said he has requested that his full name, Ernest Matthew Goins, appear on the Eclipse Award trophy, so his grandfather's name will be on it.
The awards ceremony will be Jan. 22 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Goins is a graduate of Bryan Station High School. He studied journalism at the University of Kentucky.
He has been a free-lance photographer for 15 years and spends about 60 percent of his time on equine subjects. His photos also appear in The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, Keeneland Magazine and The Keeneland Special newspaper.
This is the eighth time work for the Herald-Leader has won an Eclipse Award, generally considered the highest honor in thoroughbred racing. The award is given by the Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.