11.13.16: Rest in peace, Bucky

Bugler Bucky Sallee plays Call to the Post on opening day of the 2009 spring meet at Keeneland, Lexington, Ky. 


Technical information

April 3, 2009,
1:04 p.m.

38°2’50” N,
84°36'27" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 40D

Canon EF 100-400mm f/3.5-4.5L (400mm)


1/800th second


In the six years I’ve had my website I’ve never repeated a photo of the week until now. I first used this shot as a photo of the week five years ago, but it’s appropriate to repost this photo to mark the passing of a Kentucky and horse racing legend.

Long-time Keeneland bugler George “Bucky” Sallee died Monday In Lexington, Ky. He was 87.

Bucky retired in 2013 after more than 50 years as Keeneland’s bugler. He was Keeneland’s bugler when my dad would take me to the Lexington, Ky., track when I was a little kid in the early 1960s. He was still the bugler when I would take my dad to the track in the early 2000s.

Bucky played Call to the Post at Keeneland more than 10,000 times (he hit the 10,000 mark on Oct. 9, 2002). He was as much a part of the track’s history and tradition as the great horses, jockeys and trainers who have made racing history at Keeneland.

According to an obituary on the Keeneland website: "A native of Lexington, Bucky began taking trumpet lessons at age 7, and majored in music at the University of Kentucky. He became a renowned musician, playing trumpet and tenor sax in the 1950s and early 1960s with such notable bands as Little Enis and the Fabulous Table Toppers, and Lexington’s legendary jazz musician Clarence ‘Duke’ Madison. During his career, Bucky performed with a number of headliners, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Boots Randolph, Charlie Daniels, Fats Domino and Pee Wee King.”

I captured this photo of Bucky playing Call to the Post before the first race on opening day of the 2009 spring meet (he would have been 80 at that time). I have a number of photos of Bucky, but I had never been able to get the shot I wanted: Bucky playing, facing the camera, as horses and jockeys move behind him in the post parade. I tried to get this shot many times in the past but couldn’t get Bucky facing the right way at the right time.

It worked this time. Bucky was facing the right direction. The horses and jockeys are a colorful blur in the background.

It’s one of my favorite horse racing photos.

Rest in peace, Bucky. You will be missed.