When photographer Amy Dragoo saw Tamie Smith reach down and rub Mai Baum’s face during the awards ceremony for the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L on April 30, she recalled another moment. Eight years earlier, when Smith and “Lexus” won the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI4*-L (Maryland), almost the exact same scene unfolded. Dragoo quickly captured the moment, and then she went back to look at the previous image, which was the Chronicle’s cover shot for the Nov. 2, 2015, issue.
“In my head, I thought they were turned in the same direction, and when I looked, I was like, ‘This is surprising.’ The photo [from 2015] has always been a favorite, just for the intimacy of it,” she said. “Even though it’s in the middle of a very public prizegiving, it was a very little intimate moment between the two of them. Then it happened again. I was like, ‘This seems vaguely familiar.’ It’s cool—he won a four-star eight years ago and then this.”
Dragoo estimated this Kentucky was her 23rd or 24th time covering the event, and she was also in attendance in 2008 when Phillip Dutton and Connaught took the title—the most recent U.S. victory before Smith’s last weekend.
“I can’t even say it was electric with Tamie jumping in the ring; you could not hear anything but her; it was so, so quiet,” she said. “It’s so cool when it’s won in the ring, and it’s not someone else dropping a rail, or something happening behind the scenes. Then everyone just exploded. It was really cool. It was packed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people stay for a prizegiving, ever.
“He’s such a ham, and he’s so handsome,” she added of Lexus. “Could everyone just use him for prizegivings? He stands like a champ; his ears are up; he’s engaged. He tries to eat the flowers and touch the trophies.”
Then Dragoo shared her composite image on social media with the caption “Eight years apart, same horse, same rider, same love.” Friends and fans of the sport reacted with a bevy of likes and comments.
“I was just tickled it was the same moment,” said Dragoo, Coatesville, Pennsylvania. “It sounds corny, but it is about memories, and it’s been cool to be there for those moments and to document those moments and just have a special place for them—standing in the ring is not where everyone gets to watch it from.”