(Edited National Thoroughbred Racing Association release)
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association announced Jan. 6 that NBC Sports has won the Media Eclipse Award for National Television - Live Programming for its telecast of the 2008 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). This is the eighth consecutive year that NBC Sports has won the award in the National Television Live Programming category.
The Preakness Stakes broadcast aired on May 17, 2008. Coming in the wake of the fatal injury to the filly Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) two weeks before, NBC's two- hour telecast featured an examination of the racing and breeding industry and its response to the tragedy during the first portion of the program. The focus of the telecast then shifted to Big Brown's challenge to conquer racing's second jewel, and subsequent dominating performance to the delight of his winning connections. Big Brown was the Kentucky Derby winner.
"We are extremely proud of the high standards and passion which our production team and talent demonstrated in winning this prestigious award." said Sam Flood, coordinating producer of NBC Sports and producer of the Preakness telecast. "Tom Hammond [co-host] set the tone for our show in delivering the stories which make Thoroughbred racing so great, and once the race began, director David Michaels and his team took charge."
NBC began the broadcast with an overview of issues facing Thoroughbred racing and followed it with a roundtable discussion, monitored by co-host Bob Costas, with Eight Belles' trainer Larry Jones; Bill Rhoden, columnist for The New York Times; Dr. Larry Bramlage of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; and NBC racing analyst Gary Stevens. The program also included interviews with NTRA president Alex Waldrop and Big Brown's trainer Rick Dutrow. NBC covered the Preakness with 28 cameras, including the use of overhead camera in replay, revealing Big Brown's powerful move away from his rivals in the Pimlico stretch. "We felt that it was important to address the Eight Belles issue and its impact on racing before getting to the story of the Preakness," Flood said. "It was essential to cover the story from all angles."
NBC's telecast was hosted by Costas and Hammond, who were joined by analyst Gary Stevens, handicappers Bob Neumeier and Mike Battaglia, and reporters Donna Brothers and Kenny Rice. Tom Durkin was the racecaller. The Preakness telecast was produced by Flood and directed by David Michaels. Dick Ebersol and David Neal were executive producers. The roundtable discussion was produced by Rob Hyland and Bruce Cornblatt.
Honorable mention in the National Television - Live Programming category went to ESPN for its telecast of the ABC/ESPN production of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, October 25, 2008, from Santa Anita Park. Mike McQuade was the ESPN executive producer of the telecast and Jack Graham was the producer.
The 2008 Eclipse Awards ceremony will be held Monday, Jan. 26, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.