(Edited press release)
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Jan. 5 that Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer has won the 2006 Media Eclipse Award for writing in the features/enterprise category for "The Man Whose Job is Saving Barbaro," a profile of Dr. Dean Richardson, which was published May 28, 2006.
Honorable mention in the feature/enterprise category went to Josh Pons for "Merryland, a Diary" which appeared in The Blood-Horse Dec. 3, 2005.
This is the second Eclipse Award for Jensen, who won the features/enterprise Eclipse in 2004 for a series of articles on Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.
Jensen's feature, which ran on Page 1 in the Inquirer, brings the reader into the world of Richardson, chief surgeon for the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals. Jensen profiles Richardson in the surgeon’s own words and the words of friends and colleagues who have known him best over the years, providing dimension to his personality and interests.
The article begins with Richardson watching the Preakness in Florida, where he has just performed surgery at another veterinary hospital. Jensen then chronicles Richardson's journey back to New Bolton and into the operating room to perform surgery on Barbaro the following day.
"I am stunned to win this award again," said Jensen, who has worked for the Inquirer for 19 years. "I am very appreciative of this honor and am very privileged to be one of the people writing a chapter in Philadelphia sports history.
"This was not a feel good story," he continued. "It was an intense time at New Bolton. We heard Dr. Richardson in a morning press conference, right before Barbaro’s surgery, spell it out in blunt terms what was going to happen and the difficulty in performing a successful surgery. He was infectiously brash. You could see the confidence he brought to his work. It wasn't hard to bring that side out of him in the story."
The panel of judges for the Features/Enterprise Writing category was comprised of Matt Graves, former racing writer for the Albany Times-Union; Steve Wulf, editor-at-large for ESPN The Magazine; and author Jane Schwartz.