The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Bob Ford, sports columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has won the Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Commentary category for his column "Journey to the Winner's Circle Rough for Giacomo's Jockey," which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 8, 2005. The column, written the day of last year's Kentucky Derby, focused on jockey Mike Smith fulfilling a life long dream of winning the Kentucky Derby after string of Derby disappointments, and recovering from injury.
"I am extremely proud to win this award. Rarely does a sports story start with heartbreak and end as successfully as this one did," said Ford, who has been with the Inquirer since 1987. "I thought this was a wonderful story, an improbable upset with horse and rider coming out of nowhere. There was a group of writers around (Mike) Smith in the jocks' room and I just locked on and listened to him explain how his owner (Jerome Moss) gave him a $200 win ticket to carry in his boot during the race. I was also taken by George Smith, Mike's father, who has spent a lifetime in this game. Last year, he was the only guy at Philly Park not rooting for Smarty Jones, because his son was riding Lion Tamer, who finished second."
Honorable mention in the Writing - News/Commentary category went to Gibson Carothers for his commentary on improving the horse racing business - "The Carrot That Can Save Racing" - which appeared in the September 2005 issue of The Horseplayer Magazine.
The panel of judges for the Writing - News/Commentary category was comprised of George Solomon, former sports editor of the Washington Post; Jim Peden, former vice-president of communications for The Jockey Club and Greg Michalson, editor of Unbridled Books.
The NTRA also announced that Janet Patton has won the Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the Feature/Enterprise category for her series of articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader on the racetrack workers and adequate compensation. This is the second Eclipse Award for Patton, an equine and agricultural business writer for the Herald-Leader since 1998. Patton's enterprise in this four-part series "Wrong Side of The Track," from January 23-30, explored the world the backstretch, conducting extensive interviews about the lives of stableworkers, trainers and jockeys, and their struggles to obtain adequate workers' compensation and insurance.
"I'm extremely gratified to win this award because this was one of the most difficult pieces that I've ever written," said Patton, who won a writing eclipse award for her story on Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome in 2001. "There was a great deal of time spent on researching this project and by the time I got around to writing it, we knew we had developed several distinct themes about the issue of workers' compensation. We wanted to do a piece that incorporated the personal side of the story, not just numbers."
The panel of judges for the Features/Enterprise Writing category was comprised of Reid Cherner, horse racing editor of USA Today; Steve Wulf, Editor at Large, ESPN The Magazine, and author Jane Schwartz.
Eclipse Awards are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.
The 2005 Eclipse Awards will be held on Monday, January 23, 2006 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. For hotel accommodations and Eclipse Awards dinner reservations, contact Debbie Blair at the NTRA's Lexington office, (800) 792-6872, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.