McNamara, Simmons Win Joe Hirsch Awards

Ed McNamara and Todd Simmons earn top honors in Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Contest.

Ed McNamara of Newsday and Todd Simmons of the Staten Island Advance earned top honors in The New York Racing Association’s third annual Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Contest, recognizing the best in print and internet coverage of the 2011 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) won by Ruler On Ice.

McNamara won in the follow/wrap-up division for his story that appeared in the June 12 edition of Newsday and ran under the headline: “Classic Race Has New ‘Ruler.’ ” The article recounted how unheralded Ruler On Ice, a 24-1 shot, became “Monarch of the Muck” as he held off Stay Thirsty  in the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Simmons won top honors in the feature/advance division for his story that appeared in the June 9 edition of the Staten Island Advance entitled: “Days Before Belmont, Mucho Macho Man, Trainer Kathy Ritvo Ready For Challenge.” The article chronicled one morning in the life of Ritvo, a heart transplant recipient, and the colt Mucho Macho Man  as they prepared for the Belmont Stakes.

Each of the winners will receive an engraved Tiffany crystal bowl, to be presented June 6 at Belmont Park during the official draw breakfast for the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes.

The awards are named in honor of Joe Hirsch, the longtime executive sports columnist for Daily Racing Form who died Jan. 9, 2009. Previous winners include Dave Grening of DRF and Bob Fortus of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans in 2010, and Ed Fountaine of the New York Post and DRF’s Jay Privman in 2011.