The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced today that Scott Serio has won the 2015 Media Eclipse Award for Photography for his photograph of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah working out on the Keeneland training track in preparation for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. The photograph appeared in the Cecil (Md.) Guardian on November 4 and the Thoroughbred Daily News on Nov. 5, as well as in other outlets.
This is the first Eclipse Award for Serio, a native of Baltimore, who is president of Eclipse Sportswire photography service. A 20-year veteran of the Baltimore City police department, who retired as a Detective Lieutenant in 2013, Serio wanted to return full-time to photojournalism and started his company with Bob Mayberger, also a Photography Eclipse Award winner (2011). Serio earned a photojournalism degree from the University of Missouri.
Serio will receive his honor at the 45th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, which will be held at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino on January 16. The Eclipse Awards are presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group and are produced by the NTRA.
“It is great to see all the hard work covering race days and racing events pay off,” said Serio, who started taking photographs in 1987, and first shot the 1988 Preakness. “I’ve always loved horse racing but I also love the scene. It’s always been about the people at the venues and the size and magnitude of the events. I want people to say, ‘I wish I was there,’ so if I have taken them to a place through my photographs that they haven’t been before, then I have succeeded.”
On the Thursday of Breeders’ Cup week last year, at 8:15 a.m., Serio positioned himself on the Keeneland training track as American Pharoah, under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez, worked slowly over the Polytrack surface. Serio’s photo captured the majestic 3-year-old in in a classic fall setting between two trees with leaves on the ground and a brown barn in the background.
“I ended up shooting with a team of photographers, so I gambled a little bit and found the right place,” Serio recalled. “It had been raining for three days and finally the sun came out and we were able to take some fall images, so all the forces cooperated.”
The winning photograph was taken with a NIKON D4S with a 300 MM Lens. A low-resolution file of the image can be viewed on the TDN website at http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/thomason-it-was-a-special-breeders-cup.
Honorable mention in the Photography category went to Ron Garrison for a photograph of American Pharoah crossing the finish line in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which appeared in the Lexington Herald Leader on November 1, 2015; Wendy Wooley for her photo of American Pharoah in the stretch of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which appeared on the Paulick Report on October 31, 2015 and to Skip Dickstein for a photo of Victor Espinoza spraying Champagne at American Pharoah’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, celebrating their victory in the Kentucky Derby, which was published in The Blood-Horse on May 9, 2015.
Judges in the Photography category were Rayetta Burr of Benoit Photo; Rob Carr of Getty Images, Bill Denver of Equi-Photo, Inc. and Dr. Glen Kleine, retired Photo/Journalism Professor and Dept. of Mass Communications Chairman at Eastern Kentucky University.
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 email@example.com.
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.