Behind the Paint: SINGLETARY

James Clark

Behind the Paint: SINGLETARY

James Clark

I’m not sure if the general public understands that the paintings that compose this book span more than 10 years of studio time. The oldest painting (not the oldest horse) shared in the book is actually Singletary. His story was pretty much under the radar until his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Lone Star Park in 2004. As the story goes Billy Koch along with the Little Red Feather partners and friends were so jacked up after the win that their grandstand celebration almost toppled the balcony they were bouncing on.

 

My brother Brian was there shooting the races and came away with the close up that was used for this painting. I talked with Billy on the phone a few times over the following year . . . then at the Kentucky Derby in a Churchill Downs crowd of about 160,000 people I see three young guys wearing Singletary 50 hats (named for the Chicago Bears linebacker who wore #50), so I just had to ask if any of them knew Billy Koch. Two of them pointed to the guy in the center, “He’s Billy.” They were just finishing up some really sloppy chili dogs and Billy was kind enough to offer his last bite, I declined as I looked down at my suit and tie.

I’ve gotten to be friends with Billy over the years and I still can’t believe that I stumbled across them in the California casual wear amongst the derby crowd, but I’ve come to learn that’s Billy just a guy who loves the horses and is always surrounded with smiling friends. Personally, I can’t wait for them to tear down the grandstands again, ‘cuz it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. I love Billy’s quote for the book how he acknowledges and thanks a horse named Singletary who put their partnership on the map . . .I want to thank Billy and his group for pumping unbridled enthusiasm into the sport’s spotlight.

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A Brush with Greatness (Hardcover)


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