Nominations for NTWAB Annual Awards Announced

Posted August 8, 2018

National Turf Writers and Broadcasters released nominations for its annual awards, and a vote by membership will determine the outcome. The Annual Awards Dinner will be held on Oct. 31, 2018 at Chef Edward Lee's latest creation, Whiskey Dry in downtown Louisville's Fourth Street Live.

JIM McKAY AWARD, for broadcasting excellence, either career or in one season:

Donna Barton Brothers - The daughter of trailblazing jockey Patti Barton and one of the leading female riders of all time, Donna Barton Brothers began carving out another standout career when she first delved into television coverage of racing in 1999. Since 2000, Brothers has covered racing and other horse sports for NBC and NBCSN and, during that time, NBC has been honored with 13 Eclipse Awards for Live Television coverage. 

Mike Battaglia - Mike Battaglia’s induction into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017 says everything about an outstanding career marked by extraordinary versatility. He is best known to national audiences for his analysis and interviews during NBC’s coverage of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup races. He called races at Turfway Park and Churchill Downs – he was the voice of the Kentucky Derby from 1978-96 – in addition to his work as an oddsmaker.

Steve Byk - As host of his “At the Races with Steve Byk” show on SiriusXM, Byk's five-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, 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 horseplayers.

JOE PALMER AWARD, for meritorious service to racing:

Jim Gluckson - Jim Gluckson is head of media relations for Breeders’ Cup Ltd., working with members of the press to cover the annual World Championships. He is also involved with the Eclipse Awards as a member of the Steering Committee and helps coordinate coverage of the annual awards dinner. A graduate of Skidmore College, Jim also worked in various capacities with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and started with Breeders’ Cup Ltd. through his longtime association with SFX sports agency. Jim was presented with the Red Smith “Good Guy” award by the New York Turf Writers Association at its 2005 awards dinner in Saratoga Springs.

Georgeanne Hale - Arguably one of the country’s most respected racing officials, Georgeanne Hale served as racing secretary for the Maryland Jockey Club from 2000 to 2018. She started with the MJC as assistant racing secretary in 1984, became racing secretary at Timonium in 1986 and took on a larger role in 2000. Georgeanne is the first woman to serve as a racing secretary at a major North American track and is annually credited for putting together a strong Preakness weekend card at Pimlico. She moved into a new role as the MJC’s vice president of racing development this summer, a position where she’ll oversee the revitalization of the Washington, D.C. International, assist with the MATCH Series and lead philanthropic initiatives with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Beyond the Wire and Canter for a Cause.

Retired Racehorse Project - The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) was founded by Steuart Pittman in 2010 as a way to facilitate and promote retired racehorses in second careers in the recreational and sport world. Through a series of educational presentations and challenges—the Trainer Challenge in 2011, the 100-Day Thoroughbred Challenge in 2012, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico in 2013, and, in recent years, the Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington—the RRP, along with trainers, farms and horsemen has not only established a need to market these horses for new careers, but a platform.

WALTER HAIGHT AWARD, for career excellence in turf writing:

Marty McGee - Marty McGee has covered Thoroughbred racing for over three decades. After working at the Baltimore Sun for seven years, he joined Daily Racing Form in 1992. McGee currently covers the year-round Kentucky racing circuit as well as winter racing at Gulfstream Park. He has attended every Kentucky Derby since 1974. He won an Eclipse Award for feature/commentary in 2013 for his story about the Desormeaux brothers before Keith became a prominent player on the national stage.

Ed McNamara - Ed McNamara has been a sports writer, mostly covering horse racing, for Newsday since 1983. He was honored with the Joe Hirsch Memorial Award presented by New York Racing Association for his 2016 advance that examined the transfer of Gettysburg from trainer Todd Pletcher to Steve Asmussen and also was honored with the 2015 Bill Handleman Memorial Award for outstanding coverage of the previous year's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. He was also part of Newsday's Associated Press Sports Editors award-winning video team in 2015.

Tim Wilkin - 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. Wilkin can dig 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 Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest with Wilkin earning top-honors for beat writing in the 30,000-75,000 circulation category in 2014 and 2015.

MR. FITZ AWARD, for typifying the spirit of racing:

B. Wayne Hughes - 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 nowhere 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.

Corey Johnsen - Known most recently for forging a new era in Kentucky racing at Kentucky Downs, Corey Johnsen has an extensive background in the sport as an executive across a broad spectrum of racing establishments. Tracing his racing roots to the far Southwest, Johnsen previously served as president of Lone Star Park and Remington Park, as well as a decision-maker for a handful of other racing entities, including the former Magna Entertainment Corp. At turf-only Kentucky Downs, which he owns in partnership and serves as president, Johnsen significantly altered the financial landscape of the Kentucky circuit with his 2011 introduction of historical racing machines, which have fueled purses to record levels at the annual five-day “boutique” meets every September; other state racetracks, most notably Ellis Park, have benefitted from his largesse via purse supplements. Johnsen also dabbles in horse ownership with his son, C.J., and other partners.

Mike Smith - Putting aside for a moment his incredible record as a Hall of Fame jockey – for starters, he is the all-time leading rider in Breeders’ Cup history with 26 wins and nearly $36 million in mount earnings – Mike Smith has unfailingly demonstrated an uncommon humility and likeability throughout a 37-year career in the saddle. Smith, 53, rode Justify to a sweep of the 2018 Triple Crown, representing the sport of racing in idyllic fashion throughout the high-profile series; his interactions with both his fellow racetrackers and the public at large were exemplary. A native of New Mexico, Smith has become very well acquainted with horsemen and fans throughout North America by way of his extensive travels, having started his career in the Midwest, New York, and Florida prior to making Southern California his primary base since 2000. Smith’s $314 million in career purse earnings ranks second all-time but is just one of many indicators of his phenomenal success and positive influence in the game.