LEXINGTON, Ky. (Monday, January 5, 2015) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) today announced that NBC Sports has won the Media Eclipse Award for Television – Features for “California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion,” the story of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who rose from modest beginnings to become America’s most popular racehorse. NBC Coordinating Producer Rob Hyland and Supervising Producer Jack Felling led the production team of the 30-minute program, which aired on NBCSN on June 5 of last year.
The honor will be will be presented to NBC Sports at the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, January 17, 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.
Narrated by Bob Costas, “California Chrome” takes a close up look of the horse’s co-owners, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza, and their formation of a winning team. NBC captured the contrasting styles of the extroverted Coburn, a press operator for a company which produces magnetic tape for credit cards, and the quieter, cerebral Martin, who owns an electronic testing plant, in their workplaces in California and Nevada, and at the ranch where the viewer is introduced to Love the Chase, “the $8,000 mare who produced a $1 million winner” in California Chrome. Interviewed at his base at Los Alamitos, Sherman, who was a stablehand with Swaps at the 1955 Kentucky Derby, is living the dream with California Chrome. Sherman gives Espinoza, who rode 2002 Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem, a shot on California Chrome and his gratefulness at the opportunity shines through. Along the way, the feature chronicles California Chrome’s electrifying victories and the celebrations of the main characters and the 3-year-old’s legion of fans.
“By the time California Chrome won the Preakness Stakes it was clear that this horse had captured the imaginations of fans across the country,” said Felling. “At the same time, the connections became transcendent sports folk heroes, a blue collar team who endeared themselves even to fans who might not typically follow thoroughbred racing.
“So in the weeks between the Preakness and Belmont we set out to produce a film that aimed to explain how such an unlikely horse made his way to the doorstep of history, and how such an improbable team of horsemen got him there.
“We scrambled crews to shoot with jockey Victor Espinoza in Los Angeles and New York. We visited owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin in California and Nevada. And we saw trainer Art Sherman at his unassuming stable at Los Alamitos racetrack.
“Three production teams worked around-the-clock for 15 days to prepare the show. In the end, it was the kind of story you feel privileged to share. And, frankly, it’s a story that simply could not exist in any other sport; the tale of a team of regular folks who chased one of the most elusive titles in sports.”
In addition to Hyland and Felling, “California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion” was co-produced by Matt Allen, Phil Parrish, Dave Picker and Paige Westin. Ryan Yeager and Will Moss were the editors and Max Rahamin and Kim Brown were the associate producers.
Judges for the National Television – Features category were Jay Posner of the San Diego Union Tribune; award-winning producer Toni Slotkin and producer Doug Wren of Wren Productions.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards are available for $400 each. Dinner Tickets and Hotel Reservations at the Diplomat can be made at /en/eclipse-awards/2015-eclipse-awards. For additional information, please contact Michele Ravencraft 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.
About the NTRA
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and HORSE PAC, a federal political action committee. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).