The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Dec. 30 that Bob Mayberger of Albany, N.Y., won the 2011 Media Eclipse Award for Photography for his panoramic picture of Thoroughbreds jumping over a fence during the A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase at Saratoga on Aug. 4. The photo appeared on the Sports Illustrated Snapshot web site that same day.
This is the first Eclipse Award for Mayberger, 58, a staff photographer for Eclipse Sportswire.
For his winning photo, Mayberger, who began taking pictures from the Saratoga grandstand 10 years ago, placed his Nikon D300 remote at the base of the mid-stretch fence at Saratoga, prior to the Smithwick, which was the first race of the day. The picture’s ‘fisheye” effect captures six horses from the ground-level under an oval shaped, cloud-dotted sky. To the left of photo, three horses are seen leaping over the fence with the tote board as a background, and to the right, the image reveals the sweep of the classic grey Saratoga roof of the grandstand.
“I am unbelievably surprised and happy that I’ve won an Eclipse Award considering the number of outstanding and talented photographers that enter the competition each year,” said Mayberger, who photographed 225 stakes races in 2011. “It was a beautiful day at Saratoga and I thought I would try a fisheye photo on the Steeplechase course for the first time. Steeplechase racing allows you to get a shot of something the average person doesn’t normally see. I know how lucky I am.”
Mayberger, who is a lawyer at a New York State appeals court, first gained recognition as a photographer in 2008 for a widely circulated photo he took of a loose horse shoe on Big Brown during the colt’s failed attempt to sweep the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.
Honorable mention in the Photography category went to Barbara Livingston for her photograph of a double rainbow over the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs, which first appeared on the Daily Racing Form web site on April 30.
Judges in the Photography category were Mike Kane, Thoroughbred journalist and photographer; John Engelhardt, director of publicity at River Downs, and Dan Johnson, former writer and photographer for the Des Moines Register.