The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced that Scott Serio has won the 2015 Media Eclipse Award for Photography for his photograph of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah working out on the Keeneland training track in preparation for last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). The photograph appeared in the Cecil (Md.) Guardian on Nov. 4 and the Thoroughbred Daily News on Nov. 5, as well as in other outlets.
This is the first Eclipse Award for Serio, a Baltimore native who is president of Eclipse Sportswire photography service. A 20-year veteran of the Baltimore City police department, who retired as a detective lieutenant in 2013, Serio wanted to return full-time to photojournalism and started his company with Bob Mayberger, also a Photography Eclipse Award winner (2011). Serio earned a photojournalism degree from the University of Missouri.
Serio will receive his honor at the 45th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, which will be held at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 16.
"It is great to see all the hard work covering race days and racing events pay off," said Serio, who started taking photographs in 1987, and first shot the 1988 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). "I've always loved horse racing but I also love the scene. It's always been about the people at the venues and the size and magnitude of the events. I want people to say, 'I wish I was there,' so if I have taken them to a place through my photographs that they haven't been before, then I have succeeded."
On the Thursday of Breeders' Cup week last year, at 8:15 a.m., Serio positioned himself on the Keeneland training track as American Pharoah, under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez, worked slowly over the Polytrack surface. Serio's photo captured the majestic 3-year-old in a classic fall setting between two trees with leaves on the ground and a brown barn in the background.
"I ended up shooting with a team of photographers, so I gambled a little bit and found the right place," Serio recalled. "It had been raining for three days and finally the sun came out and we were able to take some fall images, so all the forces cooperated."
The winning photograph was taken with a NIKON D4S with a 300 MM Lens.
Honorable mention in the photography category went to Ron Garrison for a photograph of American Pharoah crossing the finish line in the Breeders' Cup Classic, which appeared in the Lexington Herald Leader on Nov. 1, 2015; Wendy Wooley for her photo of American Pharoah in the stretch of the Breeders' Cup Classic, which appeared on the Paulick Report Oct. 31, 2015, and to Skip Dickstein for a photo of Victor Espinoza spraying champagne at American Pharoah's owner, Ahmed Zayat, celebrating their victory in the Kentucky Derby, which was published in Blood-Horse May 9, 2015.
Judges in the Photography category were Rayetta Burr of Benoit Photo; Rob Carr of Getty Images, Bill Denver of Equi-Photo, Inc. and Dr. Glen Kleine, retired photo/journalism professor and Department of Mass Communications chairman at Eastern Kentucky University.