The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) today announced that ESPN, for its news magazine program E:60 feature “Barnyard Buddies,” on the unusual relationships between racehorses and stable companion animals, has won the Media Eclipse Award for Television – Feature Programming. The program aired on May 3, 2016.
This is the second Eclipse Award for E:60, which won the Television Features category in 2012 for “Notinrwildestdremz,” about an abandoned and neglected Thoroughbred retuning to the races. It is also the sixth overall Feature Television Eclipse Award for ESPN.
The Eclipse Award trophy will be presented to ESPN at the 46th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, to be held Saturday, January 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.
In “Barnyard Buddies,” the E:60 team traveled to California, New York and Kentucky to gather stories on how goats, chickens, donkeys and even a pig can be invaluable companions to Thoroughbreds. The feature, narrated by reporter Ryan McGee, contained interviews with Triple Crown-winning trainers Bob Baffert and Billy Turner, and Michael Blowen of Old Friends Farm.
“We wanted to produce a fun, light-hearted story, but at the same time explain that horses are ‘pack animals’ that tend to get nervous,” said Tonya Malinowski, E:60 associate producer. “They need companions to keep them calm and travel with them, and a calm and happy horse performs better.”
One example of calming influence occurred in 2010 when future Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer was flown from Florida to Kentucky to run in the Turfway Park Handicap, and was separated from his stable friend, a goat named Google. At Turfway, Eldaafer was not himself, acting up and not keeping his mind straight. Back in Florida, it was discovered that Google wasn’t himself either, without Eldaafer. So Google was flown to Kentucky to join Eldaafer at Turfway. Reunited for three days, Google helped settle down Eldaafer, who went on to win the $500,000 race. In retirement at Old Friends Farm, Eldaafer was joined by a second goat named Yahoo.
Other examples of successful companions for racehorses in the piece included another goat, named Pickles, who took care of the stakes winning filly Weemissfrankie; Sancho, a cat, partnering with 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Runhappy; and a one-year-old donkey named Fergie that kept the company of the filly Can’t Be Dazzled.
In addition to Malinowski, Heather Lombardo and Mike Johns were supervising producers, and Megan Anderson was the field producer. Nate Hogan was the editor. Andy Tennant is Executive Producer of E:60.
Runner up honors in the Feature television category went to Comcast Sports Philadelphia for “The Horse of a Lifetime – American Pharoah,” produced by Greg Magruder, which aired January 16, 2016. Judges for the National Television – Features category were Drew Cook, former WAVE-TV chief photographer; Dave Johnson, television producer, Sirius XM Radio Host, and longtime racing voice of the Triple Crown; and Patty Wofle, former television producer.
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.