August 15, 2003 by

Jerry Frutkoff

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Categories: Media

Gerald “Jerry” Frutkoff, a veteran horse racing photographer, died on Aug. 1 from cancer and kidney disease. He was 81.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Frutkoff joined the Navy after high school and served as an aviation boatswain’s mate during World War II. When his tour ended, Frutkoff went to Florida to work in his uncle’s photo shop. In 1947, he moved to Maryland and became a freelance photographer.
For more than five decades, Frutkoff used his camera to capture the personalities and triumphs of horse racing. His work appeared in numerous magazines, including Life, The Saturday Evening Post and Sports Illustrated. His shot of stakes winner Irish Course sitting in the starting gate at Laurel earned him the prestigious Thoroughbred Racing Association’s press photo award in 1968. It later appeared on the back cover of Life magazine.
Frutkoff photographed 55 of the last 56 Preakness Stakes, missing only the 1973 race when he filled in for a colleague at another track. Secretariat won the Triple Crown that year.
In 2000, Frutkoff received the Humphrey S. Finney Award for his lifetime contributions to horse racing. To honor his memory, the Maryland Jockey Club will rename its annual award for the best shot from the Preakness to the “Jerry Frutkoff Preakness Photography Award.”

One Response to Jerry Frutkoff

  1. Burton D. Levin, M.D.

    My favorite uncle (by marriage) was Jerry’s Uncle Leo Frutkoff, with whom Jerry trained. They were very close and I met and visited with Jerry many times years ago when visiting Leo. Jerry was always so very warm, friendly, and kind — ready at all times to do anything to help or please a friend.
    Just tonight, my sister called from Chicago to ask if I had heard from Jerry and did Jerry have Leo’s wonderful file of racing photographs. If Jerry had them, or had given them to a museum, they would be a great source of pictures of Seabiscuit, of such current interest.
    Leo and then Jerry were pioneers of their style of horse racing photography and were both widely known, admired, and liked in the industry.
    I would like to send my condolences to Jerry’s family and tell them that I still keep a picture of Uncle Leo where I can see it first thing every morning. It is at the Hialeah with his happy smile and Speed Graphic!
    Burt Levin………….bdldoc@aol.com

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