And the Eclipse goes to … 2022 Media Awards

January 6, 2023

“Elbow Room Please,” a head-on photograph of the $500,000 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on Oct. 1, between Rich Strike with Sonny Leon (left) and Hot Rod Charlie and Tyler Gaffalione. (Photo by Wendy Wooley/Equi-Sport)

NTRA Press Release/Edited

LEXINGTON, Ky.―The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters today announced the winners of the 2022 Media Eclipse Awards in six categories. 

Media Eclipse Award winners will be presented their trophies at the 52nd Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony and Dinner at The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida on Thursday, Jan. 26. 

The 2022 Media Eclipse Award winners are as follows:

Photography – WENDY WOOLEY – “Elbow Room Please,” The Paulick Report, Oct. 1, 2022. 

Writing – Feature/Commentary – TIM LAYDEN – “Beneath the Super Bowl’s Turf: The Ghosts of Hollywood Park,” NBCSports.com, Feb. 8, 2022. 

Writing- News Enterprise – TOM LAW – “Big Tally,” Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, July 1, 2022

Live Television Programming – NBC SPORTS Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 4-5, 2022
Lindsay Schanzer – NBC Sports Producer of Horse Racing

Feature Television Programming – NBC SPORTS – “Cody’s Wish” Nov. 5, 2022
Jack Felling – Coordinating Producer

Audio/Multimedia – HORSE RACING RADIO NETWORK (HRRN) – Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 5, 2022 
Mike Penna – HRRN President

PHOTOGRAPHY – WENDY WOOLEY

Wooley, from Lexington, Ky., has won her first Eclipse Award, for “Elbow Room Please,” a head-on photograph of the $500,000 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on Oct. 1, depicting a furious stretch battle between Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike and the eventual 2021 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hot Rod Charlie. Wooley’s image captured Rich’s Strike’s jockey, Sonny Leon, attempting to elbow jockey Tyler Gaffalione and his mount, Hot Rod Charlie, in the battle to the wire. Hot Rod Charlie prevailed in the Lukas Classic by a half-length. 

“Winning an Eclipse Award feels surreal to me! It’s an amazing honor,” said Wooley. “I’m a bit speechless. I grew up in the Detroit area as a typical horse-crazy girl. I always watched racing on television, and I’ll never forget when Affirmed won the Triple Crown. I got out of racing when my life had me going in a different direction but then Barbaro reignited my interest. I started shooting racing in the Chicago area since that was the closest track for me at the time. It was fun and photographing horse racing is how I eventually met my husband, Matt, and moved to Lexington.” 

The Wooleys, full-time photographers working for many farms in Central Kentucky, run EquiSport Photos and have been shooting for the Paulick Report for nearly 10 years.  

They were at Churchill on Oct. 1 to primarily shoot the Ack Ack Stakes on assignment for the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race, but also took a great interest in the Lukas Classic, which was Rich Strike’s first race at Churchill since winning the Derby. 

“Since I shoot with big glass (600mm lens) I usually like to shoot head-on,” Wooley remembers in setting up her shot using a Canon R3 camera. “So that’s where I went, down at the clubhouse turn going around the turn enough so that I get them running straight towards me, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing through my camera while shooting.”

When Wooley returned to the Churchill Downs media center, she found multiple Eclipse Award-winning writer Jennie Rees and said “You’ve got to see this!” and showed her the whole sequence of images. “We both chalked it up to some rough race riding. I sent the image to the Paulick Report and Ray wrote me back with ‘this is a heckuva shot.’ That’s when I knew it was a special image. I realized I was the only one with that angle too. No one else shot the head on that day.”

The winning photograph can be viewed here.

Honorable Mention in the Photography category went to former Eclipse Award winner Scott Serio for his photo “The Coach” of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, which appeared first on Hipismo.net on Nov. 15, 2022. 

Judges in the category were Mark Abraham, freelance photographer and currently deputy director of the United States Senate Press Photographers’ Gallery; Rob Carr, Getty Images/Chief Photographer, Sport and Mike Kane, veteran Thoroughbred journalist, and photographer.

FEATURE/COMMENTARY WRITING – TIM LAYDEN

Layden, a writer-at-large for NBC Sports, has won his third Media Eclipse Award for “Beneath the Super Bowl’s Turf: The Ghosts of Hollywood Park,” which was published on NBCSports.com on Feb. 8, 2022. Layden, from Simsbury, Conn., won his first Eclipse Award in 1987 for Newspaper writing for Capital Newspapers in Albany, N.Y., and in 2018 for Sports Illustrated, for his Feature/Commentary article on track announcer Charles “Chic” Anderson. 

“I’m happy for, and thankful to the people at NBCSports.com, who gave me a place to publish my work after I left Sports Illustrated, and have been unfailingly supportive,” said Layden. “It’s a thrill to see that work recognized, not just because we all like to be recognized, but also because of NBC’s enduring relationship with racing.”

Super Bowl LVI in February 2021 was being played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which was once the site of Hollywood Park, one of America’s most prominent and successful racetracks of the 20th Century, with the biggest names in show business enjoying such outstanding horses as Seabiscuit, and Triple Crown winners Citation, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. Hollywood Park hosted the first Breeders’ Cup in 1984.

“NBC owned the rights to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Ron Vaccaro, NBC’s Vice President for Content, who I work with frequently, wondered if there might be something to write about the fact that SoFi Stadium sat on the ground that once was Hollywood Park,” Layden recalled. “It was a terrific idea. I love stories that connect the present to the past, and I had seen the old Hollywood Park, and like so many other frequent travelers, had watched the transformation during the approach to the LAX, where you could look down and see it happening.”

In his article, Layden drew a picture of the workmanlike atmosphere of Hollywood Park through the words of Hall of Fame Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill, and John Shirreffs, who trained Horse of the Year Zenyatta at Barn 55.   

Honorable mention in the Feature/Commentary category went to three-time Eclipse Award winner Natalie Voss for “After Rough Entry To The World, ‘Gumbo’ The Colt Is Overcoming The Odds,” which appeared in the Paulick Report on Sept. 5, 2022, and to former Eclipse Award winner Bryce Miller for “Complicated Case of Horse Racing Trainer Peter Miller Returns to Del Mar,” which was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on July 21, 2022.

Judges in the Feature/Commentary category were Reid Cherner, former sports and racing writer, and columnist for USA Today; Tom LaMarra, Director of Communications and Backstretch Services for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Amy Owens, Communications Associate at Keeneland.

The winning article can be viewed here.

NEWS/ENTERPRISE – TOM LAW

In “Big Tally,” Tom Law, born and raised in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., covered the 2022 Preakness Stakes for Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and reported on the victory by Klaravich Stable’s Early Voting in the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. This is the second Eclipse Award for Law, who shared the 2011 Audio/Multimedia and Internet Award with Greg Charkoudian of Thoroughbred Times, where he worked for more than 14 years in Lexington before joining ST Publishing as Managing Editor in 2012.

“Winning a second Eclipse Award is an incredible honor, and especially satisfying to be recognized for the coverage of a historic event like the Preakness,” said Law.

Enveloping crisp race reporting, Law bolstered his piece with quotes from winning trainer Chad Brown’s decision to skip the Kentucky Derby for Early Voting, and his preparations prior to the Preakness in Baltimore. Law also brought to light jockey Jose Ortiz’s decision to take the mount on Early Voting, and his calculated ride to victory.

 “One of the many things I’ve learned working with colleagues, friends, and partners Joe and Sean Clancy for more than 10 years is there’s always a story behind the story, and probably even another story,” said Law. “That was the case with Early Voting and his connections, who kept the colt in New York for the winter, skipped the Kentucky Derby, and were rewarded for those moves in the Preakness. Jockey Jose Ortiz also provided great insight into his early impressions of Early Voting and a short conversation with him an hour after the race laid the groundwork for my coverage.”

The winning article can be accessed here.

Honorable mention in the News/Enterprise category went to five-time Eclipse Award winner Jay Hovdey for “Flightline Lands a Special Place in History,” which was published in the BloodHorse Daily on Sept. 4, 2022, and to Paul Halloran for “Fairytale,” about Cody’s Wish, which was published in the Saratoga Special on Aug. 31, 2022.

Judges in the News/Enterprise category were Bob Kieckhefer, racing writer for United Press International; Dan Liebman, former editor of The BloodHorse and The State-Journal in Frankfort, Ky., and Robert Yates, writer for Oaklawn Park Media Relations. 

TELEVISION – LIVE RACING PROGRAMMING – NBC SPORTS

For the third consecutive year, NBC Sports has won the Eclipse Award for Live Television Programming for its broadcast on NBC, Peacock, and the USA Network, culminating its two-day coverage of the 39th Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., with the scintillating performance of Flightline in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Continuing to provide its audience with technical innovations and multiple viewing opportunities, NBC Sports employed unique perspectives from the track with access to approximately 75 video sources, including multiple live jockey cams and jockey and trainer/owner mics; a backstretch camera; jockey cams connecting to real-time data that allowed viewers to see graphic overlays on replays, including speed, current position, distance from the leader, and distance from the finish; and a megaladon camera to share live-action footage of the fashion and flavors surrounding the event. For individual access to the horses, NBC Sports utilized Breeders’ Cup Contender Cams, featuring paddock ISO cameras and front-side ISO roof cameras. For the first time, NBC Sports added a side set with a full-screen telestration monitor for our two desk analysts to be able to take a deep dive into each Breeders’ Cup race. 

“At NBC Sports, we are grateful to be a part of the biggest horse racing events in the country – and this year’s Breeders’ Cup capped them all off with an absolute flourish,” said NBC Sports Senior Producer of Horse Racing Lindsay Schanzer. “The entire weekend was a thrill, highlighted by the inspirational story of Dirt Mile winner Cody’s Wish and his namesake Cody Dorman, and the otherworldly Flightline finishing his illustrious career with a dominant win in the Classic. These are the moments you dream about covering in sports and in racing. We are incredibly proud of this broadcast and thank our NBC Sports colleagues and our partners at Breeders’ Cup for all of their efforts to make this possible.” 

Joining Schanzer on the production team were director Kaare Numme; assistant producer Caroline Sayer; assistant director Jared Sumner; associate director Jeff Burriesci and editorial producer Amy Zimmerman.

The NBC talent team was comprised of Ahmed Fareed, Jerry Bailey, Randy Moss, Britney Eurton, Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice, Nick Luck, Matt Bernier, Steve Kornacki, and Larry Collmus.

Judges in the Live Television Programming category were Jeannine Edwards, multiple award-winning reporter, and analyst for ESPN from 1995-2018; Dick Jerardi, who covered more than three decades of Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races for Philadelphia Daily News and Chris Svendsen, Director – CBS Sports.

TELEVISION FEATURE – NBC SPORTS

In “Cody’s Wish” NBC Sports produced a feature, which aired on USA Network on Nov. 5, on one of the most heartwarming stories of 2022 about teenager Cody Dorman, and the racehorse Cody’s Wish. Cody Dorman was stricken at birth with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body. At age 4, in a chance visit through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cody went to Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Ky., and immediately bonded with a young foal, who was later named Cody’s Wish. After Cody’s Wish had begun racing, Cody came to see him win his first race at Churchill Downs in 2021. Cody went to subsequent races to see Cody’s Wish win twice more. After the segment aired, Cody was also at Keeneland to see Cody’s Wish win the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland during the World Championships.

“For as long as I’ve been working on horseracing, I can’t recall a connection between horse and human like the bond shared by Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish. That horse has truly made a lasting impact on Cody’s life,” said NBC Sports Coordinating Producer Jack Felling, “Cody is such a courageous young man, and his parents, Kelly and Leslie, are two of the most selfless and loving people I’ve ever met on the job. The sight of the Dormans celebrating together after Cody’s Wish won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is a scene I’ll never forget. That was horseracing at its very best. All of us at NBC Sports feel lucky to have had the chance to tell that story.” 

“Cody’s Wish” was narrated by former NBC award-winning broadcaster Tom Hammond. Ryan Yeager was the editor. Lindsay Schanzer is NBC Sports Senior Producer for Horse Racing.

AUDIO/MULTIMEDIA – HORSE RACING RADIO NETWORK (HRRN) 

Honorable Mention in the Television Feature category went to ESPN for “Bob Baffert Conversation,” produced by Kristine Kugler, which aired on May 6, 2022. 

Judges in the Television Features category were Liz Bronstein, television showrunner and executive producer, and creator of the Animal Planet 2008-09 series “Jockeys”; Bruce Casella, Television producer and director, Pushin a Rock Productions, and Lenny Shulman, Emmy Award-winning writer/producer; author, and former senior correspondent for Bloodhorse.

Horse Racing Radio Network has won its third Audio/ Multimedia Eclipse Award for its live broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 4-5, 2022 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. 

“To be honored with a third Eclipse Award is extremely special,” said HRRN President and broadcast anchor Mike Penna. “When we launched HRRN nearly 20 years ago, our only goal was to create something that would help the sport in some way. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, our listeners, and everyone who has ever taken the time to join us as a guest on our shows, we have been able to continue to tell the stories which make our sport great. We are truly grateful and humbled to be recognized once again.”

The 2022 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic was one of the most anticipated races of the season, headlined by the remarkable Flightline, who was undefeated in five career starts prior to the race. HRRN reached behind the scenes with pre-race interviews with Flightline’s co-owner and breeder, Jane Lyon,and produced a feature telling the story of Flightline as a baby before he became a star on the track. While Flightline was the primary storyline associated with the Classic, the HRRN team also spoke to connections of his talented rivals, which included WinStar Farm’s CEO Elliott Walden and their four-time Grade 1 winner Life Is Good. Trainer Eric Reed discussed Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike and the possibility of wrapping up a three-year-old championship with a Classic win, as well as discussions with Hall of Famers Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, and Mike Smith. Immediately after the race, John Velazquez, who rode Happy Saver, shared his thoughts on Flightline and what it was like competing against him.

In addition to Penna, the HRRN analyst team included Bobby Neuman, Jude Feld, and Jeff Bloom. Keeneland announcer Kurt Becker provided the live call of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The broadcast was produced by Lee Dellapina along with engineer Shawn Seay. Production assistance was contributed by Feld, Justin Taylor, Keith O’Brien, Fanny Salmon, and Michelle Penna. 

Honorable mention in the Audio Multimedia category went to Horse Racing Nation for “Jockey gets her 1st Saratoga win on filly trained by her dad,” about Robbie Davis and his daughter Jackie. The video was produced by Andrew Capone and was posted on Aug. 13, 2002.

Judges in the Audio/Multimedia category were Glenn Crouter, former lead television anchor for Woodbine Live Network and sports and lifestyle announcer for Newstalk 1010 in Toronto; Bob Curran, longtime Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club and graduate of the St. Bonaventure University journalism program; and Julie Sarno, freelance writer, a former editorial staff member of The BloodHorse, staff member at The Meadowlands, staff member and Department Head at Del Mar. 

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