Rees wins Media Eclipse Award for story on jockeys

by | 12.28.2011 | 2:22pm

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters (NTWAB) today announced that Jennie Rees has won the 2011 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Enterprise category for “Breeders' Cup 2011: Jockeys Rein in Their Emotions,” which appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal on October 30.

This is the third writing Media Eclipse Award for Rees, who resides in Louisville and has been the Thoroughbred racing writer for the Courier-Journal since 1983.

In her article, Rees examined the circumstances and aftermath of the altercation between jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano which ensued in the winner's circle following the 2010 Breeders' Cup Marathon and explored the reasons for how these situations are normally resolved. In addition to the principals involved, Rees interviewed jockeys Robby Albarado, Jon Court, Ramon Dominguez, and former riders Gary Stevens and Richard Migliore.  Some riders revealed that they were sometimes more concerned about receiving suspensions for careless riding than they were for the welfare of their fellow competitors in the jockeys' colony – until their rival actually hit the ground.

“We're always looking for stories that will be of interest to a general audience during the showcase weeks of racing coverage, such as the Breeders' Cup,” Rees said. “Having covered Borel for years and also Castellano, the explosion of emotions from these two gentlemen after the Breeders' Cup was jolting. It got me thinking about the unique dynamics of the jocks' room. Unlike anything else in professional sports, not only do these highly motivated athletes have to go back in the locker room and be with their competitors, there's the safety factor where their welfare on the track in large measure rests in each other's hands.

“We felt it was a topic that had not been fully explored. I really want to thank my newspaper and sports editor Harry Bryan for committing the time and space to tell this story. But what made the story was all the jockeys who spoke so candidly about involvement in such sometimes unpleasant situations.”

Rees won her first Eclipse Award in 1988 for a profile of trainer D. Wayne Lukas, which appeared in the Sunday Magazine of the Courier-Journal, and won her second Eclipse for Newspaper writing in 1993 on horse injuries. She also collaborated with other members of for a 2008 Eclipse Award in Audio and Multi Media Internet category.

Honorable mentions in the News/Enterprise category went to Joe Drape for “Ex-Racehorses Starve as Charity Fails Mission to Care for Them,” about the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which was published by the The New York Times on March 18; and to Ryan Goldberg for “Lasix: Demystifying the Drug, Methods of Training Without it,” which appeared in Daily Racing Form on November 17.

The panel of judges for the News/Enterprise Writing category was comprised of Michael Brunker of; Reid Cherner of USA Today and Bob Kieckhefer of United Press International.

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