The Eclipse Awards will be handed out on Monday January 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. In addition to all the awards for the equine and human competitors, including the highly anticipated result of Horse of the Year between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, the NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association will also recognize excellence in media coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
The 2009 Eclipse Award for News/Commentary Writing goes to Sean Clancy for his column "Life's Work", about the gamut of emotions he felt while attending an estate sale of the late Hall of Fame Trainer Sidney Watters, Jr., in 2008. The entry appeared in the January 3, 2009 edition of The Blood-Horse magazine. Clancy said, "It's a real thrill for anyone in the business to win an Eclipse Award. It's the pinnacle to win one, whether it's as a jockey or a trainer or for writing. It's always out there, and you're always chasing after it. Sidney Watters was an amazing horseman and gentleman, who represented a different era as a sportsman. My mentors, and people I respected like Leo O'Brien and Dickie Small, always talked about him and his legacy. He trained champions on the flat and over jumps, which is pretty special. I feel like I'm always trying to bridge that same gap."
This category was judged by Reid Cherner, USA Today; Ed Schuyler, former Associated Press racing writer and Paul Moran, former Newsday racing columnist. Honorable mention went to Jay Hovdey, for his column "No Choice but to Rise to the Top" about the passing of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, which appeared on the Daily Racing Form website on Nov. 16, 2009.
The 2009 Eclipse Award for Feature/Enterprise Writing goes to Joe Drape for "Despite Outcry, Derby Owners Fall Silent on Drugs for Horses," which appeared in The New York Times on April 30, 2009. Drape said, "We had been wondering what kinds of medications and drugs were being used on racing’s biggest stages. So we tried a different approach by trying to obtain veterinary records of the starters in the Kentucky Derby. Rick Porter and Larry Jones (owner and trainer of Derby starter Friesen Fire) complied with the request, so I decided to ask the other connections. I am grateful to those owners, horsemen and veterinarians and horse rescue groups who do push to make the game humane and contested on a level playing field. It not always a popular issue, but they keep it in the public eye. In researching this article, I found that we were further away from ‘hay, oats and water’ than I thought. Still, most everyone now acknowledges that this is a problem, and in recent months we have seen states and major races take a stronger stance to outlaw steroids and illegal drugs.”
This category was judged by Rob Longley of the Toronto Star, Fred Klein, former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Neil Milbert, former horse racing writer for the Chicago Tribune. Honorable mention went to Vinnie Perrone for "Life Lived Large – Tale of Dickie Small," about the career of the Maryland trainer. The piece was published in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred on February 9, 2009.