Eclipse Awards for Writing Go to Scheinman, Voss
Posted Jan. 4, 2016
John Scheinman is the winner of the 2016 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the Feature/Commentary category, and Natalie Voss won the 2016 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Enterprise category.
Voss penned "Something’s Wrong With My Brain’ – The Lurking Danger of Concussions for Jockeys," an examination of head trauma and the racing industry’s response to preventive measures. Sheinman wrote “Andrew Beyer: Rebel with a Cause," a profile of the former Washington Post racing columnist, horseplayer and creator of the Beyer Speed Figures.
Both works appeared on the Paulick Report website -- Scheinman's piece was posted on November 12, 2016, and Voss's on December 30, 2015. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced the awards today.
This is the second Eclipse Award for Scheinman, a freelance writer-editor and former turf writer at the Washington Post, who lives in Baltimore. He was honored with the Feature/Commentary writing Eclipse in 2014 for “Memories of a Master: The Determined Life of Dickie Small,” which appeared on BloodHorse.com.
This is the first Eclipse Award for Voss, who resides in Georgetown, Ky. and is the Features Editor for the Paulick Report.
Each writer will receive a trophy at the 46th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Jan. 21, at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Eclipse Awards are presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group and produced by the NTRA.
“It is extremely gratifying to win the Eclipse Award having written about a person who had such a profound influence on my approach to horse racing in Andy Beyer,” said Scheinman. “I know I feel like many others who fell under his influence. As a student at American University, when I began to get into horse racing, Andy was the guy I was reading – his books and columns in the Washington Post. Throughout my career, I have always wanted to write as well, and play the horses as well, as he does.
“When I found out that Andy would no longer be writing for the Washington Post or Daily Racing Form, all I heard was silence. I thought that this was an injustice to a towering figure in our sport that also spoke to the decline of coverage of horse racing. I had thought about writing this story for a long time. He’s a fascinating subject, and so to have written a piece about him and to be recognized for it is such a thrill and makes me very proud.”
Beyer will also be honored at this month’s Eclipse Awards ceremony with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.
In blunt and often humorous terms, Scheinman examines the many facets of Beyer’s 46-year career, describing a professional both admired and disliked, taking on the establishment in the racing industry and in state government. Beyer often wrote about racing from the horseplayer’s point of view, and recognized the primary importance of the player in the game.
Over time, Scheinman relates, Beyer’s popularity and stature grew through tales of his conquests, including massive exotic wagering payoffs and cleaning out the press box teller window on the first race on Preakness Day. Yet the germ that drove Beyer’s approach had been in place early on.
At Harvard, he wrote for the Crimson – the student newspaper – covering sports and making up rock and roll quizzes. His serious studying took place at Suffolk Downs, Lincoln Downs, Narragansett and assorted poker tables.
His failure to complete his English degree showed the depth of his obsession. He skipped a senior-year exam on Chaucer to drive to Long Island to bet on Amberoid in the 1966 Belmont Stakes. Beyer, whose father taught history at Southern Illinois University, finished out of the money at Harvard, but Amberoid came in and paid $13.
In his writing, Beyer never hesitated to point out a pronounced racing surface bias or to lament when trainers racked up winning streaks that he saw as signs of cheating.
His first book, “Picking Winners,” became a national best-seller. His Beyer Speed Figures are a bedrock component of Daily Racing Form past performances.
Scheinman also reveals that Beyer was very serious about his journalistic approach to tracking down a story as well as the craft of writing, sticking to principles of sentence structure and proper diction. Yet it was always clear being a horseplayer informed his work.
As Crist points out, without gambling Beyer may never have developed into the writer he became. He took the core premise that horse racing should serve the bettors that supported it and extrapolated that into journalistic inquires of horsemanship, track management, medication and industry governance. Along the way, he told lots of great stories, knocked down sacred cows, tweaked noses and reveled in his own mischief.
The winning submission can be accessed <a href="http://www.paulickreport.com/news/ray-s-paddock/andrew-beyer-rebel-cause" id="link" target="_blank">here</a>.
Honorable mention in the Feature/Writing category went to Tim Layden for “He’s Quite a Horse: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of California Chrome,” which was published on the Sports Illustrated website on October 31, 2016, and to Sandra McKee, for “Line of Duty,” about Joe Miller, a courageous and determined horse ambulance driver at the Maryland racetracks, which was published in the April 2016 edition of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred.
Judges in the Feature/Commentary category were Reid Cherner, former USA Today writer and columnist; Dan Liebman, former editor of The BloodHorse; Bob Kieckhefer, racing writer for United Press International; and Gary Yunt, former Denver Post writer and editor.
“I am still completely overwhelmed and honored to win an Eclipse Award,” said Voss, who grew up riding hunter/jumpers in Virginia, and later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky. “As someone who loves this sport, this was a difficult topic to write about but sometimes in order to make things better, you have to shine a light on something that’s hard to see.”
In “Something’s Wrong,” Voss explores the problems of repeated head trauma, and compiled data through medical professionals and probed how the industry is managing the problem of recovery time for jockeys, and delved into the effectiveness of their riding helmets.
Voss tells part of that story through the life of retired jockey Gwen Jocson, featured in Sports Illustrated as a young rider, who finished her career with 763 wins but left the sport in 1999 because she was losing her balance. Jocson returned for the Lady Legends race at Pimlico in 2010, which she won, but realized something was wrong, and she needed help.
What actually helped in her diagnosis was the opening of the feature film “Concussion,” which revealed the high incidence of head trauma in the National Football League and the discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) by doctors studying the problem and the subsequent reluctance of the NFL to acknowledge it.
Interestingly, Voss found that racing does accept the problem of concussions but lacks proper funding to combat the issue.
Seemingly in contrast to the NFL, the Jockey’s Guild and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund have no problem conceding the damage from concussions is a risk for riders. That sense of self-awareness doesn’t mean CTE in jockeys is well understood. Football has been the public face of sports concussion issues – as a result, it has received most of the most funding dollars. The racing world is still struggling to quantify the problem. A report from the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Carl Mattacola at this year’s Jockey Club Welfare and Safety Summit revealed that 8.6 percent of falls by jockeys during races from 2012 to 2015 resulted in concussions, per the Jockey Industry Database.
Jocson’s symptoms are very similar to those of the retired football players in the film, who suffered from memory issues and emotional imbalances. In discussions with the Jockeys’ Guild National Manager, Terry Meyocks, Voss found that some riders similarly forgot events, such as riding a race following a concussion, and could be especially vulnerable for major damage.
As a potential remedy for recovering riders, Voss introduces a device from Dr. Mark Lovell, an early CTE researcher in the development of the ImPACT system (Immediate Post Concussion and Cognitive Testing), to address the issue. It is a test that can be taken on an iPad or Iaptop, which measures “an athlete’s memory, reaction time, and processing speed to gauge neurological function.”
At the time of the article’s publication, Meyocks said that there was still no “universal concussion protocol for evaluating riders before allowing them to take mounts after a fall.”
“As an industry, we don’t support jockeys as much as we could,” Voss said in retrospect. “As a rider myself, I have a bit of a frame of reference for the risks that jockeys take and what they are going through in a sport where most of the people involved are not riders.”
The winning submission can be accessed <a href="http://www.paulickreport.com/news/ray-s-paddock/somethings-wrong-with-my-brain-the-lurking-danger-of-concussions-for-jockeys" id="link" target="_blank">here</a>.
Honorable mention in the News/Enterprise category went to Margaret Ransom for “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borrell,” which appeared on USRacing.com on May 26, 2016, and to John Cherwa for “A Horse is a Horse of Course, but What do they Think on Kentucky Derby Day?,” about the sensory systems of racehorses, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 3, 2016.
Judges in News Enterprise category were Jane Goldstein, former Santa Anita Park publicity director; Jenny Kellner, former New York Post writer and former New York Racing Association publicist; and Bill Kolberg, racing publicist.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards are available for $425 each. Dinner tickets and reservations for the official event hotels – the Turnberry Isle Miami and the Grand Beach Hotel – can be accessed by contacting Casey Hamilton of the NTRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements in North America have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Those awards are voted by NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB). Eclipse Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.