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 NBC Sports has won the Media Eclipse Award for Television – Live Racing Programming for its broadcast of the 2015 Belmont Stakes featuring American Pharoah’s victory, the first Triple Crown sweep in 37 years. The two-hour live telecast from Belmont Park in New York aired June 6 of last year.
The trophy will be presented at the 45th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, which will be held on 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.
This is the 12th Media Eclipse Award in the Live Television category for NBC.
NBC’s broadcast of the Belmont Stakes was one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of 2015, as millions tuned in to see if the majestic American Pharoah, owned by Zayat Stables, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, could break the 37-year drought of failed Triple Crown attempts in racing’s “Third Jewel.” Through profiles of the leading contenders and pictures and descriptions of American Pharoah’s journey from the barn to the saddling area and out of the paddock to the racetrack, NBC built drama and pace into the show, climaxed by American Pharoah’s resounding victory and punctuated by the now-iconic race call from Larry Collmus.
NBC utilized a full array of talent and production in pre- and post-race coverage of the Belmont Stakes, including historical analysis and interviews about the enormous difficulty of winning the Triple Crown, and the potential “spoilers” in the field who could have denied American Pharoah his date with destiny. Positioning 42 cameras, NBC captured the 1 ½-mile Belmont, the outpouring of joy from the fans at Belmont Park, and the winning connections following the race from a wide variety of angles and presentations.
“On behalf of the dedicated men and women who work on NBC’s horse racing coverage, I am honored to accept this prestigious award,” said Rob Hyland, coordinating producer of NBC Sports Group’s horse racing coverage. “When American Pharoah crossed the finish line at Belmont Park, our production philosophy was very simple – document the moment and let the moment speak for itself. As Bob Costas so eloquently said that afternoon, the Triple Crown is ‘just so difficult, so unlikely, so rare, so stupendous an achievement that we won’t soon forget what we witnessed today at Belmont Park.’ June 6, 2015, is a day that all of us at NBC Sports will remember for the rest of our lives. It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of such a defining moment in sports history.”
In addition to Hyland, as producer, the Belmont Stakes broadcast was directed by Drew Esocoff. NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes featured hosts Costas, a 26-time Emmy Award-winner, and Tom Hammond, a veteran NBC Sports commentator; analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, the Hall of Fame jockey and two-time Belmont winner; analysts/handicappers Bob Neumeier and Eddie Olczyk; NBCSN host/NBC reporter Laffit Pincay III; reporters Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers and Jay Privman; and race caller Collmus. Carolyn Manno and Josh Elliott provided a mix of features and interviews at Belmont Park.
Judges for the National Television – Live Racing category were: Jay Posner, Editor – Arts & Entertainment of the San Diego Union-Tribune; Patti Wolfe, former ABC Sports producer; and director/producer Doug Wren of Wren Productions. The decision of the judges was unanimous.
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.