American Thoroughbred Fine Art Photography by Neil Latham Debuts at the Eclipse Awards and Supports Racing Industry Charities
The extraordinary fine art photography collection by Neil Latham titled “American Thoroughbred” is a highlight of this year’s Eclipse Awards produced by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association taking place January 14-18, 2015 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida. A portion of the sale of the 19 limited edition, silver gelatin prints will be donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF) and Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Program.
A Meet the Artist breakfast with Latham kicks off the Saturday Eclipse Awards activities.
The large-scale, hand-made photographs in the American Thoroughbred Collection are exhibited in two event venues, including the Sport of Kings Theater for the awards gala.
“We mean to surround the dinner guests with life-size horses, shot after breezing, veins coursing from giving their all on the track, so people can feel the power and dominance of these magnificent creatures,” says Latham.
“My mission was to capture the true essence of the Thoroughbred,” Latham explains. The photographs are close-up, black-and-white isolations; some are abstracted like a shoulder or leg with veins popping. But Latham says it’s not all about muscular strength, it’s as much about the horse’s fragility. “They are beautiful, balanced, fascinating animals,” he adds.
The collection images are truly unique. They portray 19 of the 50-plus top Thoroughbreds that Latham photographed for this virtuoso project. Among the legendary names are Zenyatta, Curlin, Tapit, A.P. Indy, Ghostzapper and Rachel Alexandra. The prints are very limited editions, with just five numbered prints offered in the two largest sizes.
From a technical perspective, the prints were made with Ansel Adams-style craftsmanship. All photographs were taken on traditional film with medium and large format cameras outdoors with natural light. “Film gives a softness and subtlety that enhances the emotional connection,” explains Latham.
Each print takes three to seven days to complete the complicated development, enlargement and printing process, depending on the size of the print. They are made in a specially designed warehouse studio with equipment custom built for this project to accommodate the large size. Prints are on archival paper, mounted with a special process, matted and framed under museum-quality glass or plexiglass in custom black frames. They are numbered, dated, signed and sold with a certificate of authenticity.
A native of England and now resident of New York City, Latham abandoned his commercial fashion photography career to spend two years pursuing his challenging project, experimenting with the technical process and crossing the country to shoot the top horses. He slept in the groom dorms at Saratoga Race Course; camped in a tent in Kentucky; and got up at 3:30 in the morning to join the exercise trainers and racehorses on the track.
As a result of all the help and support from the breeders, trainers, grooms and track workers, Latham decided to give nearly a third of the proceeds from the fine art print sales to racing charities. They include The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund; The Thoroughbred Aftercare Program; and His Place Ministries.
Latham also donated an exclusive print from his private collection for a Live Auction at the Eclipse Awards After Party on Saturday, Jan. 17 after 10 p.m. at Frankey’s Sports Bar in The Village at Gulfstream Park. All proceeds of the sale will go to the three charities. The print will be custom-made for the winning bidder in the desired size from 20×24 inches to 50×60 inches. It will be numbered one of one; no additional print will ever be made.
The auction photograph is the profiled head of Quality Road at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. He has Secretariat and Alydar in his pedigree line, and finished in the money in 10 out of his 11 graded stakes-race starts before a forced retirement due to an abscess. His seven wins included the Florida Derby, Donn Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap and the Woodward Stakes. Jockey Johnny Velazquez will conduct the print bidding war at the After Party, a special tribute for him as he rode Quality Road in every one of his 11 graded stakes-races.