The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced today that The New York Times has won the 2013 Media Eclipse Award in the Audio/Multi-Media Internet category for “The Jockey,” an in depth profile of Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, which appeared on the Times’ website on August 13, 2013.
The 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony will be held on Saturday, January 18 at Gulfstream Park Racetrack and 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.
Written and narrated by Barry Bearak, the story offered a multi-media presentation about the world of Russell Baze, the Bay Area jockey with the most victories in the sport’s history. Utilizing a full array of video, photography, music and printed text to support the story, “The Jockey” was sectioned into eight chapters encompassing the full range of the racing experience, including: race riding, the morning routine, the extended Baze family, injuries, Baze’s venture on the Southern California circuit, the role of Baze’s agent, Ray Harris, the horseplayers at Golden Gate Fields and Baze’s 50,000th mount.
In a revealing first chapter, Baze had a tiny camera inserted into his goggles before a race at Golden Gate, which provided a jockey’s eye view of race riding from gate break to wire. The video is accentuated with Baze’s descriptions of his strategy and tactics used in two races filmed by the Times.
Bearak, who lives in Pelham, N.Y., has been with the Times since 1997. Before joining the sports department, he was a foreign correspondent for the paper and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2002 for his coverage of the War in Afghanistan.
“So much great sportswriting has been done at the racetrack,” said Bearak. “It was intimidating to try my hand at the genre, so it’s really a thrill to have the story recognized as worthy. I so much admire previous winners of the Eclipse Award, among them my colleague Joe Drape of The New York Times. It’s also neat because I went into reporting the story without knowing very much about horse racing, so I suppose it means I didn’t make any glaring mistakes.”
In the course of the project, Bearak became very impressed with the athletic skill and savvy required in race riding. “A jockey has to ration the horse’s speed. It’s a finite resource. The nature of the race keeps changing. The jockey has to keep his horse in a position to win while at the same time leaving enough fuel in the tank for a strong stretch run. It’s really a skill. No jockey gets it right all the time, but the great ones, like Russell Baze, get it right most of the time.”
In this collaborative effort on “The Jockey,” in addition to Bearak, the presentation was produced by Xaquin G.V., Graham Roberts, R. Smith, Catherine Spangler and Josh Williams; with images from Chang W. Lee and photo editing by Becky Lebowitz Hanger; copy editing by Victor Mather; music composition from Thomas Gamble, and additional reporting and video by Shan Carter, Mike Bostock and Peter DaSilva. The project was overseen by sports editor Jason Stallman and associate managing editor for visualization Steve Duenes.
The winning entry may be viewed at the following link:
Honorable mention in the Audio and Multi-Media Internet category went to “Jay Hovdey: Migliore Shares Secrets of Quirky Turf Sprint,” about the downhill turf course at Santa Anita Park, which appeared on drf.com on October 30, 2013. The entry was produced by Dave Renard with Jay Hovdey as writer and video host; filming and editing by Nathan Murphy and Lou Monaco, and photography by Barbara Livingston. Judges in this category were John Lee, multi-media producer; Brian Nadeau of Horseplayer Now and Julie Sarno, writer and turf publicist.
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.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards are available for $400 each. Order forms for tickets and the Eclipse Awards weeklong schedule of events are available at http://bit.ly/18TJ0Tx. Hotel Reservations at the Westin Diplomat can be made at http://bit.ly/1kVxdac. Hotel reservations at the Trump International can be made at http://bit.ly/1h8WgXe. For additional information, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.