NTWAB Awards Nominations Released

Posted Aug. 5, 2017

National Turf Writers and Broadcasters has released candidates for its four major awards to be presented during the 2017 Breeders' Cup week.

Recipients of the annual awards will be announced following polling of eligible NTWAB members. Polling is open now, and a link to the poll is in an email sent to members on the evening of Aug. 4 by Secretary Jessie Oswald.

Polling is scheduled to be completed by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 18, 2017. The deadline for payment of annual dues was Aug. 1, and those who have not paid are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

The awards will be presented at the organization's annual dinner set for Thursday, Nov. 2 at the  iconic Brigantine near Del Mar.

CANDIDATES FOR THE JIM MCKAY AWARD for broadcasting excellence, either career or in one season

In 1999, Randy Moss became ESPN’s primary horse racing analyst and in 2011, Moss began as an analyst for the Triple Crown for NBC Sports. In addition to his horse racing analyst duties, Moss has been assigned as a reporter or host to a wide variety of NBC Sports broadcasts including college football, college basketball, golf, and two Olympic games. Prior to his television career, Moss was a newspaper reporter, horse racing handicapper and columnist for 20 years at the Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette. Moss has covered all but two runnings of the Kentucky Derby since 1980, either in print or on television.

As host of his eponymous “At the Races with Steve Byk” show on SiriusXM, Byk's 5-day a week news magazine has become a must-listen for many industry participants and fans. Having initially served as a sportscaster at Colgate, Byk began writing about racing in 2002, eventually developing DerbyTrail.com website which elicited a strong following. After joining ‘At the Races and Beyond’ on Sirius Satellite Radio in 2005, Byk took over the show in 2007 and has stamped himself an ardent supporter of horsemen and the horseplayer. With guest lineups that routine include racing's top figures, Byk's show has created an informative, educational and entertaining forum that touches on all aspects of the industry.

The daughter of trailblazing jockey Patti Barton and herself one of the leading female riders of all time, Donna Brothers began carving out another standout career when she first delved into television coverage of horse racing in 1999. Since 2000, Brothers has covered horse racing and other horse sports for NBC and NBCSN and, during that time, NBC has been honored with 13 Media Eclipse Awards for Live Television coverage. Vital as her knowledge is during pre-race analysis, Brothers' post-race interviews on horseback has been responsible for bringing viewers such memorable moments as Calvin Borel's emotional tribute to his parents following his victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby

CANDIDATES FOR THE  JOE PALMER AWARD for long and meritorious service to racing

In 2007, Madeline Auerbach created the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), a non-profit, charitable organization created to raise money for retired California racehorses. CARMA worked with the California Horse Racing Board to adopt a rule change allowing for a purse deduction to help fund equine retirement and also has managed grant requests and disbursements to qualified retirement facilities. A longtime owner, Auerbach served for eight years as a director on Thoroughbred Owners of California Board of Directors and is a founding director of The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. She was appointed in January 2014 as a commissioner on the California Horse Racing Board.

Since assuming management of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in 1978, Joe Harper has overseen Del Mar's emergence as one of the nation's top racetracks for daily average handle and attendance while preserving its "Where the turf meets the surf" ambiance. Harper initially came to Del Mar from Santa Anita where he served as executive vice president for the Oak Tree Racing Association. At Del Mar he first served as executive vice president and general manager before taking on the roles of president, chief executive officer and general manager in 1990. A member of The Jockey Club, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the Advisory Board for the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, Harper also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the California Center for Equine Health at U.C. Davis, and as Chairman of the Winners Foundation, a drug and alcohol counseling center for the California racing industry.

Founded in 1984, the Winners Foundation is a non-profit organization established to provide information, support and referral sources to employees and family member of the California horse racing community being adversely affected as a result of substance abuse, compulsive gambling or mental health issues. The Winners Foundation provides assistance to any employee or family member of the California Thoroughbred horse racing community free of charge including backstretch workers as well as all employees of Del Mar, Fairplex, Golden Gate Fields, Hollywood Park, Oak Tree, Santa Anita and the California Association of Racing Fairs. Among the many resources Winners Foundation provides is a large referral base and relationships with a myriad of mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities both in and out patient, city and county services, sober living environments and mental health practitioners.

CANDIDATES FOR THE WALTER HAIGHT AWARD for career excellence in turf writing

Matt Hegarty is one of an exceptional few turf writers who follow and understand the complex and nuanced minutia of myriad industry and regulatory entities across the nation, and even globally. His specialty is the watchdog journalism that reminds the industry and sport that someone is paying attention. Hegarty deciphers and translates details that can make most people’s eyes glaze over into highly readable, often entertaining and always understandable stories that provide context to the complex and emotional. With the Daily Racing Form since 1997, Hegarty serves as the primary reporter on business, regulatory, medication and political issues. Before that, he was news editor for the now-defunct weekly Thoroughbred Times after serving as an intern at The Blood-Horse. In 2014, he was selected for the American Horse Publications’ Award for Outstanding Reporting.

Tim Wilkin has been the longtime racing voice of the Albany Times-Union, juggling his in-depth coverage - particularly of the Saratoga meeting - along with his college basketball duties. Never afraid to ask the hard questions, Wilkin can dive into intricate industry issues with the same aptitude he brings to emotional features. That ability has been recognized in the form of multiple honors from the Association Press Sports Editors annual writing contest with Wilkin earning top-ten honors for beat writing in the 30,000-75,000 circulation category in 2015 and 2014.

An astute handicapper and learned observer of the sport, Ed McNamara has been a sports writer, covering mostly horse racing, for Newsday since 1983. McNamara's observations have been a constant source of accuracy and entertainment even as the mainstream coverage of racing has contracted. He was most recently honored with the Joe Hirsch Memorial Award presented by New York Racing Association for his 2016 advance that examined the strategic transfer of Gettysburg from trainer Todd Pletcher to Steve Asmussen and was also honored with the 2015 Bill Handleman Memorial Award for outstanding coverage of the previous year's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. His ability to adapt the changing new media landscape has also been notable as he was part of Newday's APSE award-winning video team for 2015.

CANDIDATES FOR THE MR. FITZ AWARD for typifying the spirit of racing

B. Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm, brought the storied operation back to prominence in recent years with his commitment to its racing and breeding program. And no-where has his devotion to the sport been more clearly demonstrated than in his campaigning of four-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder. Where Hughes could have capitalized years ago on having one of the most desirable broodmares in the world, he continued to race Beholder at the highest levels into her 6-year-old season where she became the first horse in North American history to win Grade 1 races at ages 2,3,4,5 and 6. Hughes’s sportsmanship has yielded such moments as Beholder’s win against males in the 2015 Pacific Classic and her career-capping, memorable triumph over then unbeaten champion Songbird in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Rick Porter is best known for campaigning Thoroughbred standouts as 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond, Grade 1 winner Hard Spun and Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles. Through all the ups and downs -- even in the aftermath of Eight Belles' fatal breakdown -- Porter's passion and enthusiasm for the sport have been on public display for years.  No more has his devotion been more on display than during the career of his champion filly Songbird as the native of Wilmington, Delaware has remained a presence despite his battle with cancer. Porter was hospitalized with an infection just days before Songbird was to compete in the Alabama Stakes last summer but was back to lead the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro into the winner's circle when she captured the Cotillion Stakes last September. Porter has repeatedly cited Songbird's success as key salve to his emotional well being and was again by his filly's side when she won the Delaware Handicap on July 15, giving her owner his first win in his state's biggest race.

Frank Stronach, owner of Adena Springs and founder of The Stronach Group, faced a fair amount of skepticism when he first proposed the idea of the Pegasus World Cup - a $12 million race in which shareholders purchased slots in the race for $1 million - during the Thoroughbred Owners Conference at Gulfstream Park in January 2016. One year later, the concept played out beyond expectations as a full field led by two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome and champion Arrogate went to post on Jan. 28 with the latter storming to victory en route to stamping himself as the world's leading racehorse. The creation of the Pegasus was credited as a large motivator for keeping California Chrome in training beyond his runner-up effort in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic and several owners have already said the race - which will boast a purse of $16 million for 2018 - could be a game-changing catalyst for the handicap division for years to come.