LARC NEWS Posted: 4/1/2022 11:08:49 AM


         After capturing thousands of thrilling finishes and joyous winner’s circle celebrations, Scott Martinez, the track photographer at Los Alamitos Race Course going back to 1987, will retire following the conclusion of Sunday’s 10-race program at the Orange County track.       

          It will be the end of an era in the photography room at Los Alamitos, as the Martinez family have captured racing images at the Cypress straightaway for six with Scott’s father, Milt Martinez, preceding him as the track photographer.

          Milt Martinez first brought his gear photographer’s gear here in 1970 following a hand-shake deal with Frank Vessels, Jr. He arrived with a box-full of experience after an accomplished career in photojournalism with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. His time there encompassed a wide array of daily assignments, covering everything from The Beatles arrival at LAX in the 1960s to a plethora of news breaking events all over the Greater Los Angeles Basin.  

          “My dad was working at the Herald Examiner at the time when a co-worker recommended him to go visit the Vessels Family,” Scott Martinez. “My dad drove down from our home in El Segundo to Los Alamitos and after meeting Mr. Vessels he took the offer to help with covering the races.”

          In the process, Martinez’s Pacific Color soon became the long-term successor in the recording of the images and post-race celebrations at Los Alamitos. He followed the track’s first mainstay photographer, Bill Sherlis, who ran the department from 1950 to 1969.

          In the years that passed, Milt took some of the sport’s most iconic photos. His snapshot of the legendary Dash For Cash approaching the finish line in the 1976 Champion of Champions, just as AQHA Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Nicodemus looked back at the competition they had left far behind, is among the most famous Quarter Horse racing images ever recorded on photographic film.

          Fast forward a few years and Scott began to accompany his father to Los Alamitos. Interested in photography at an early age, Scott began at Pacific Color in 1985, first doing billing and assisting around the office. He would eventually join his dad by the rail to shoot the nighttime racing action. Scott joined Pacific Color full-time in 1987, but his stay was cut short after Pacific Color no longer had the photo contract with the track during a time in which Hollywood Park owned Los Alamitos Race Course.

          “After Dr. Allred bought Los Alamitos, Brad McKinzie offered the job back to us with the switch of the photo department going in-house,” Scott said. “I took the offer.”

          In the more than 30 years that have followed, Scott has photographed the likes of First Down Dash, Refrigerator, Corona Chick, Griswold, Blues Girl Too, He Looks Hot and hundreds of other AQHA Champions during his time at Los Alamitos. He has photographed every running of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and 34 runnings of the prestigious Champion of Champions.

          “A couple of my favorite Quarter Horse racing shots have come away from track,” he added. “I would often go take photos at Vessels Stallion Farm and I remember taking a photo of the champion Corona Chick right after she had her very first weanling. That weanling was Corona Cartel. I also did a fun photoshoot with Grade 1 winner Kool Kue Baby and her trainer, the late K.C. Carden. He was a such a nice man, a true gentleman. Both of those are fun memories that have stuck with me to this day.”

          During his time at Los Alamitos, Scott Martinez has overseen all things photography at the track including postproduction and printing. His final race, an allowance event for Quarter Horses, is the 10th race on Sunday night.

          “Through my time (at the racetrack) I’ve been part of the evolution of photography from film and chemical printing to digital and computer editing,” Scott said. “I’ve enjoyed capturing images of many legendary Quarter Horses thundering across the finish line. My greatest satisfaction comes from capturing the expressions of joy in people’s faces as they gather in the win circle after a derby or futurity. It’s tough to get that shot and I don’t always do it. But if I get it, it can tell a lot of the story. Pat Visscher after last weekend’s Los Alamitos Oaks is a great example. I’ve enjoyed the fun shots as well, trying to come up with different angles and views of the racing action.”                                                                                                                 

    An excellent musician, Scott will enjoy his time homebrewing craft beers, watching the LA Dodgers and enjoying the Pacific Ocean views from his San Diego home with his wife, Ronda, and their Boston terrier. Look here and smile, Scott!





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