Layden, Balan, NBC Sports Lead 2018 Media Eclipse Awards
Posted Jan. 5, 2019
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced the winners of the 2018 Media Eclipse Awards in six categories. Many of the winners are members of NTWAB.
Feature/Commentary Writing – NTWAB member Tim Layden, SI.com; “Remembering Chic Anderson’s Legendary Call of Secretariat’s Record Run at 1973 Belmont Stakes”; June, 4, 2018
News/Enterprise Writing –NTWAB member Jeremy Balan, BloodHorse.com; “San Luis Rey Horsemen Faced Brutal Challenges in Fire”; Dec. 13, 2017. Tim Sullivan, also an NTWAB member, was named Honorable Mention.
Television –Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports, 2018 Belmont Stakes, June, 9, 2018. Many NTWAB members were part of the broadcast team: Larry Collmus, Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice, and Layden.
Television – Features – NBC Sports, “San Luis Rey Fires”; May 5, 2018
Audio/Multi-Media Internet – Christie DeBernardis & Patty Wolfe, TDN Weekend; “Cozmic One: Shining New Light on OTTBs”; July 2018
Photography - Barbara D. Livingston, DRF.com; “Firenze Fire and Whereshetoldmetogo in Gallant Bob Stakes”; Sept. 9, 2018
Each of the Media Eclipse Award winners will be presented their trophies at 48th Annual Eclipse Awards on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Feature/Commentary Writing - Tim Layden
This is the second Eclipse Award for Layden, a 24-year-veteran at Sports Illustrated, who won a Newspaper Writing Eclipse Award in 1987 for Capital Newspapers.
“Horse racing was the first ‘major’ sport I covered, as an intern at the Schenectady Gazette in 1976,” said Layden, from Simsbury, Connecticut, who has written the horse racing beat for Sports Illustrated since 2001, taking over from the late Bill Nack. “The symmetry of winning an Eclipse Award isn't lost on me. Also, my previous Eclipse, in 1987, led to a job at Newsday, which led to a job at Sports Illustrated. So there's a special place in my heart for that trophy.”
In his feature-winning article, Layden recounts the short but exciting life of Charles (Chic) Anderson, who called races at Churchill Downs and the Triple Crown for CBS. Layden then takes the reader along for the ride with Anderson, interspersing the race caller’s signature phrases during Secretariat’s incredible 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes and how Anderson kept his cool and professional demeanor while rising to the magnitude of the moment.
“Chic Anderson's call of the ’73 Belmont is truly one of those great stories that was hiding in plain sight,” added Layden. “The race has been watched, replayed and worshiped for so long, and Chic's call has been the soundtrack. I thought his performance that day was astounding, given the scope of the performance, which Chic could never have seen coming. I wanted to learn about the man who gave us those magic words, ``Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine....'' and many others that day.”
The winning entry can be viewed here.
Honorable mention in the Feature/Commentary category went to Bryce Miller for “Burned Trainer Martine Bellocq Finds Love, Hope Among the Ashes,” which appeared on the San Diego Union Tribune website on May 18, 2018.
Judges in the Feature Commentary category were Reid Cherner, former writer and editor for USA Today; Dan Liebman, former BloodHorse editor; and Robert Yates, who covered racing for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
News/Enterprise Writing – Jeremy Balan
In “San Luis Rey Horsemen Faced Brutal Challenges in Fire,” Balan, the Torrance, CA-based Online News Editor for BloodHorse.com, covered the tragic fires of December 2017 at San Luis Rey that devastated the Bonsall, California training and stabling center in which humans were badly burned and 46 horses perished. Balan’s report centered on answering questions a week after there was much conjecture on social media and in other outlets on the causes of the swift devastation of the fire and why roads were closed near the facility that could have allowed trailers to evacuate the more than 450 horses stabled there.
Balan interviewed security officials from officials at San Luis Rey and at the California Department of Forestry Fire Protection (Cal Fire), revealing that choices were made in road closures to speed the evacuation of people in the area. The fire’s widespread devastation was largely due to palm trees catching fire throughout the facility, which took just seven minutes to encompass the property’s barns.
“The palm trees—which line so many of the barns, paths, and roads at San Luis Rey and are pervasive in the surrounding area—along with the whipping wind, changed everything. As embers hit the dry palm fronds, many of the trees quickly caught fire, and the effect was almost exponential. The trees on fire released embers of their own, which dropped down on the barns. Other embers blew into barns from the sides, carried by the wind.”
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Balan about receiving his first Eclipse Award. “Stories are made by people and the subjects, and the people I wrote about at San Luis Rey were amazing people, many of whom put their lives on the line, and did the very best they could where decisions had to be made on a minute to minute basis.”
The winning article can be viewed here.
Honorable mention in the News/Enterprise category went to former Eclipse Award-winner Tim Sullivan, also an NTWAB member, for “Behind the Sunglasses is an Eye for Talent,” which appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal on June 8, 2018.
Judges in the New Enterprise category were: Bob Kieckhefer, racing writer for United Press International; Bill Kolberg, former assistant director of publicity for Santa Anita, Oak Tree Racing Association and Del Mar; and Gary Yunt, former copy editor for the Denver Post and Notes Team Captain for the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup.
Television –Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports
NBC Sports earned the Live Programming Eclipse Award for its coverage of Justify’s front-running victory in the 150th Belmont Stakes and his successful bid to become Thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner. The program aired on NBC on June 9, 2018.
NBC deployed 40 cameras around Belmont Park to capture the historic moment of the 1 ½ mile ‘Test of the Champion’ and also utilized an aerial camera over the full backstretch -- covering 2,750 feet at Belmont Park, and additional handheld roaming cameras on the grounds to capture the scene of 90,000 fans in attendance.
“To present an athletic achievement that has happened only 13 times in nearly 150 years of competition is an honor and responsibility that none of us take lightly,” said Rob Hyland, NBC’s Coordinating Producer of Horse Racing. “I’m extremely proud to be part of a team that broadcast Justify’s iconic moment, which will live forever in horse racing history.”
In addition to Hyland, the two-hour broadcast was directed by Drew Esocoff. Sam Flood is Executive Producer of NBC Sports.
The NBC lineup of talent on the broadcast was: NTWAB members Larry Collmus, Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice and Layden; Bob Costas, Mike Tirico; Randy Moss, Jerry Bailey, Eddie Olczyk, Britney Eurton, Carolyn Manno and Laffit Pincay, III.
Judges in the Live Television Programming category were: Chris Fallica, of ESPN College GameDay, ESPN Chalk writer, co-host “Stanford Steve and The Bear” podcast; Dave Johnson, track announcer, television analyst and race caller for ABC Sports, and now co-host of DOWN THE STRETCH on SiriusXM; and Dick Jerardi, former writer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Television - Features - NBC Sports
In “San Luis Rey Fires”, Bob Costas narrates the aftermath of the “destruction and the scorched earth” of the Southern California training facility. Gathering footage of horses evacuating through the smoke of burning barns, and supported by interviews with farrier Juan Aguilar, outrider Les Baker, who was trampled and suffered nine broken ribs; and the recollections of trainer Peter Miller, NBC recalled the horrific scene of December 2017 and the heroic efforts to of countless individuals helping to save both humans and horses. The feature also revealed the outpouring of individuals who supported the relief effort at Del Mar racetrack to relocate more than 1,000 animals.
“The devastation at San Luis Rey Downs would have been even more tragic if not for the bravery of the men and women working there, and the generosity of countless others who gave their time and money to the recovery effort,” said co-producer David Picker. “As we’ve seen before, true character is revealed in the toughest times. The Thoroughbred racing community should be very proud of the response to those terrible wildfires.”
In addition to Picker, Rob Hyland, Jack Felling, and Amy Zimmerman were co-producers of “San Luis Rey Fires,” which aired on May 4 during NBC’s Kentucky Derby broadcast. Brad Buckwater was the editor and Aaron Metz was the cameraman.
Judges in the Television Features category were Liz Bronstein, television producer for Lizard Trading Company, producer of Whale Wars and Jockeys for Animal Planet; Karen M. Johnson, author, racing journalist and Emmy Award-winning television producer; and John Tweedy, documentarist and producer for Landlocked Films.
Christie DeBernardis and Patty Wolfe for TDN Weekend did extensive work on this feature about Cozmic One, the first offspring of Hall of Famer Zenyatta. Cozmic One could not reproduce the prowess of his mother on the racetrack, but through the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) and the careful eye of 17-year-old show rider Isabela de Sousa, Cozmic One began a second career as a show horse.
The story of Cozmic One is told by DeBernardis, who came up with the idea, wrote the text, took the pictures and interviewed de Sousa on camera. Wolfe shot and produced the video of de Sousa, in which the young rider extols the opportunity of second careers for retired racehorses and the success of Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) programs.
The video captures Cozmic One and the young de Sousa together with the rider discussing her process of choosing Cozmic One, previously owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, as her next mount in the RRP sponsored Thoroughbred Makeover competition. De Sousa is then seen riding Cozmic One in a “demo event” at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, KY in April 2018, as well as at her home, where Cozmic One resides with his pal and fellow OTTB Isle of Giants.
The entry appeared first online in the July edition of TDN Weekend, a publication of Thoroughbred Daily News.
“We are truly honored and humbled that our work was chosen for an Eclipse Award. It is our industry's highest honor and what we all strive for day in and day out,” said DeBernardis. “There are so many talented writers and photographers in horse racing that we are lucky to know and work with, so to be selected as an Eclipse winner among such an exceptional group is beyond flattering. I am very grateful to my family, friends and everyone at the TDN who have supported me and made this possible. I am also thankful to have met Sergio and Isabela de Sousa, who inspired this piece and welcomed me into their home and stable. And, I can't forget Cozmic One, who attracted many readers to this story and shined a new light on retired racehorses.”
DeBernardis, who grew up in Freehold, N.J. and graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Communications, joined the TDN in March of 2013, and is currently an associate editor.
Wolfe, who produces videos for TDN, has had an extensive career in television, working at ABC Sports in many capacities on a number of events and was as associate director and associate producer on Triple Crown racing telecasts for the network.
The winning entry can be viewed here.
Judges in the Audio/Multi-Media Internet category were Ashely Cline, founder and publisher of the equestrian lifestyle blog, EquestrianStylist.com; Brian Nadeau racing analyst for Horseplayer Now and Amy Zimmerman, Santa Anita Park Vice President and Senior Associate Producer for NBC Sports.
Photography – Barbara D. Livingston
Barbara D. Livingston, the chief photographer for Daily Racing Form, has won her fourth Eclipse Award for Photography for a photograph of the Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) at Parx Racing on Sept. 22, 2018. Inside the final 50 yards of the six-furlong race, Whereshetoldmetogo was in a furious stretch drive to the outside of the favored Firenze Fire, when suddenly Whereshetoldmetogo attempted to bite Firenze Fire. Livingston, standing in the gully at the outside rail to the left of the wire, caught the action with her Canon 1DX Mark II and 300mm f2.8 lens in an image displaying the teeth of Whereshetoldmetogo right below the withers of Firenze Fire.
“When I was shooting it I could see his teeth, which was already quite surprising. Of course, you just keep shooting but sometimes, what you see through your camera is not what results in the image, depending on timing,” recalled Livingston. “I had changed my camera settings during the race, when I saw it was two horses rather than one. Luckily, the settings were spot-on.
“Of the countless races I’ve shot over the decades, I may have photographed three or four biting episodes, and this was by far my best image/ When I saw the resulting shot back in the photo room, I realized that it was a very special shot. I’m thrilled that other people saw in it what I did.”
Livingston, who lives just outside of Saratoga Springs in Malta, NY, has previously won the Photography award in 1992, 2001 and in 2014. In addition, in conjunction with Daily Racing Form she won the Audio/Multi-Media Internet awards in 2017 and 2016. The winning image:
Judges in the category were Mark Abraham , Former photographer at Newark NJ Star Ledger, and current deputy director of the US Senate Press Photographer’s Gallery; Rob Carr, staff sports photographer with Getty Images, and Garry Jones, racing photographer for the Associated Press and other publications (Editor’s Note: We mourn Garry’s passing on January 3, 2019).
Honorable mention went to three-time Eclipse Award winner Michael Clevenger, who took an under the rail shot of Accelerate leading the field down the stretch of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, which appeared on the Louisville Courier-Journal website on November 3, 2018.
Eclipse Awards Tickets
Eclipse Awards tickets are available for $425 each, or $4,000 for a table of 10. Additional details can be found on the NTRA website at NTRA.com/eclipse-awards/.
The “black-tie optional” Eclipse Awards is part of a full week of events that will culminate with the third running of the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the inaugural running of the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, on Jan. 26. Separate tickets to the Pegasus World Cup are available on the Gulfstream Park website at pegasusworldcup.com.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards also include an invitation to a spectacular Friday night, Jan. 25, party in the Gulfstream Park walking ring on the eve of the Pegasus.
Eclipse Awards voting is conducted by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Daily Racing Form. The Eclipse Awards ceremony is produced by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and presented by the Breeders’ Cup, Daily Racing Form and The Stronach Group.
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.
Officials Partners of the Eclipse Awards include The Stronach Group, Breeders’ Cup, Daily Racing Form, Keeneland, Florida HBPA, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Red Brand, Roberts Communications, The Jockey Club, Dean Dorton, WinStar Farm, EquiLottery Win Place Show, IOA Insurance, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, Hagyard, Hallway Feeds, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, New York Racing Association, LUXAIR Jets, Jackson Family Wines, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Indiano Tequila. The official charity of the Eclipse Awards is the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).