LEXINGTON, Ky. (Monday, January 4, 2016) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) today announced that Digital Kitchen’s production of “Ironman Perry Ouzts,” directed by the Hennegan Brothers, which tells the remarkable story of the 61-year-old journeyman jockey, and aired on AT&T U-Verse Sports on August 15, 2015, has won the Media Eclipse Award for Television – Feature. This is the second Eclipse Award for Brad and John Hennegan, who won the Television Features category in 2008 for “First Saturday in May.”
The Eclipse Award trophy will be presented to the Hennegan brothers at the 45th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, to be held Saturday, January 16, 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.
In “Ironman Perry Ouzts,” the Hennegan brothers capture a few days in the life of the 11th leading Thoroughbred jockey of all time, following Ouzts during his daily routine at Belterra Park in Cincinnati, working four to five horses in the morning and then riding as many as nine races in the afternoon, a job he has been doing for 42 years, and one personified by dedication and loyalty to the people who have employed him throughout his career. The program includes interviews with trainer W.J. Danner, jockey John McKee and Ouzts’s wife, Toni, who is a groom at Belterra.
“It’s amazing,” said Brad Hennegan on learning the news of again winning the Eclipse Award. “We’re big fans of horse racing and we love telling stories about the hard working people that are there day in and day out. There are no days off at the track.”
Ouzts, originally from Riverdale, Arkansas, and a cousin of Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, is currently the third leading rider in mounts of all time, with more than 47,928 races ridden, trailing only Russell Baze and Laffit Pincay Jr. He has 6,554 wins through Sunday. He began riding in 1973 and, according to his estimation, has broken more than 40 bones during his riding career.
Brad Hennegan credits Belterra (and River Downs) publicist John Engelhardt for bringing Ouzts’s story to their attention through Engelhardt’s Facebook news feed.
“We found articles about Perry crashing his Harley Davidson, then getting patched up with duct tape and winning the Daily Double back at the track later that day,” recalled Hennegan. “He seemed like one tough SOB, and so we wanted to meet this amazing athlete.”
Runner up honors in the Feature television category went to Maryland Public Television for “Racing the Times,” a documentary on the history of Thoroughbred racing in Maryland, produced by Nicolas Carter of Rubicon Productions, which first aired on Maryland Public Television on May 15, 2015. Judges for the National Television – Features category were Karen Johnson, author, racing journalist and television producer; Stephen Nagler, Chief Executive at SCN Communications, and Chris Svendsen of CBS Sports.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards are available for $400 each. Dinner tickets and reservations for the official event hotel – the Diplomat Resort & Spa, Curio Collection by Hilton – 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.