She Flew Like An Angel

February 5, 2023

“JumpHorse” Stephan’s Angel, Eclipse Award-winning Photo by Cindy Pierson Dulay/

By Maribeth Kalinich

Well, more like levitated. And Cindy Pierson Dulay was definitely in the right place at the right time when 3-year-old filly Stephan’s Angel was being saddled by trainer John Servis for the 2004 Adena Stallion’s Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

Dulay was there on Preakness Weekend with her Sony F828 camera photographing for her and this happened to be Black-Eyed Susan Day, the day primarily for fillies. Cindy had been there all day and the Miss Preakness was race 9. The media was out by the saddling area after the call of riders up.

Apparently, the bay daughter of Crypto Star was a little fidgety which caught Dulay’s attention. She began to snap some shots and suddenly Stephan’s Angel jumped straight up into the air with her legs tucked tight as if competing for the Puissance at the DC International. And Dulay captured the moment.

The photograph, originally published in the print edition of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred in July of 2004, was so wickedly good that it won the 2004 Eclipse Award for Photography for Cindy, deservedly so. 

Here is the story of how this photograph evolved in Cindy’s own words from her 2004 articlein 

“I always watch when horses start acting up, since those pictures make for online postcards. Pimlico has in indoor saddling area and apparently Stephan’s Angel didn’t like it, so trainer John Servis took her outside to saddle on the track for the Miss Preakness Stakes on the day before the Preakness at Pimlico. She threw a total fit and, in the process, leapt straight up in the air. That is the shot I was fortunate enough to get that won the award.”

And Cindy’s reaction to winning the 2004 Eclipse Award for Photography:

“I never thought I would be able to say this, but I have won the 2004 Eclipse Award for best photograph of 2004! I knew it was an amazing picture when I took it, and most of the other photographers who saw it said it had a good chance to win. Still, I never really thought it would happen. I don’t really think of myself as a photographer since that is just one part of what I do to create and run this website. I only started taking racing pictures back in 1996 so I would have images to use online since the web is so visual. That I was able to learn how to do it well enough to win this is just totally amazing to me. Many thanks to Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred for publishing it so it was eligible to enter.”

Now one would think Stephen’s Angel’s leap took a bit of stamina out of her for the upcoming start. The way she started that might be an obvious assessment. But horses are miraculously tenacious and resilient. 

Breaking from post 9 and ending up at the back of the field, Stephan’s Angel piloted by Stewart Elliot would weave her way up to fifth to eventually challenge the leader, Forest Music under Ramon Dominguez, and just miss the win by a head. 

That would be Fox Hill Farm’s Stephan’s Angel last race. She ended with a record of seven starts, three wins and two seconds. Winning her debut at Laurel Park, she followed up with a win in an AOC at Laurel and then went to Aqueduct where she earned Black Type with a victory in the Mom’s Command Stakes. The plucky filly out of Salt Lake mare Salt Lake Lady would finish second in the Honeybee at Oaklawn before her exciting race at Pimlico. 

Contributing Authors

MariBeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Past the Wire

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

View Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

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