The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Dec. 29 that HRTV won the 2011 Media Eclipse Award in the Television-Features programming category for its documentary “Inside Information: Randy Romero,” about the triumphs and lifelong struggles for survival of the Hall of Fame jockey. The program aired on Dec. 26, 2010.
This is the second consecutive Media Eclipse Award won by HRTV for programs which were written and produced by the network. Last year, HTRV won the Television-Features award for “Inside Information: Swale” about the 1984 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner.
In “Randy Romero,” HRTV unfolds the life story of a young Louisiana jockey, nicknamed the “Ragin’ Cajun,” who overcomes physical and emotional obstacles to reach racing’s heights but suffers personal hardships throughout. Along the way, Romero recounts a horrific near-death incident following a sauna explosion at Oaklawn Park in 1983, when nearly two-thirds of his body was burned. In the days following the accident, Romero’s father, Lloyd, prevented Randy’s mother from visiting their son in the hospital.
Following a long period of rehabilitation, Romero resumed his career and went to the top of the game, winning the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff on the undefeated Personal Ensign. This moment of glory came in vivid contrast two years later when Romero’s mount Go For Wand died tragically in the 1990 Distaff at Belmont Park. In later years Romero endured other serious health problems after his retirement from racing. He experienced kidney and liver failure in 2002 and was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Romero had a kidney removed six years later.
Personal recollections of Romero’s life are enhanced by interviews with longtime friends Carol Angel, Jimmy Lafont and Mark Guidry; brother Gerald; son Randy Romero II and jockey Gary Stevens who rode Winning Colors in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
“Because of the subject matter—physical and emotional abuse, severe burns, the horrific breakdown of Go For Wand—this was a show that was emotionally hard on everyone who worked on it, but no more so than for the man who lived through the events,” said Amy Zimmerman, executive producer of HRTV and the co-writer of the documentary. “Everyone at HRTV is very grateful to Randy Romero for his honesty and assistance in letting us to tell his story.”
“Inside Information: “Randy Romero” was a collaborative production effort by the HRTV team. In addition to Zimmerman, production duties were handled by Phil Kubel, Steve Scheidler, and Kathryn L. Beranich. Kristen Rocky was the field producer, who conducted interviews and directed the shoot Romero and his friends and family in Louisiana. The documentary was narrated by Carolyn Conley.
HRTV, based in Arcadia, Calif., also received the Media Eclipse Feature award in 2006 for the Pony Highway production of “On the Muscle” and in 2008 for the Hennegan Brothers’ documentary “The First Saturday in May.”
Honorable mention in the Television-Features category this year went to NBC Sports for its “Keeneland History,” segment on the 75th anniversary of Keeneland Race Course, which aired on the Autumn at Keeneland telecast, October 15. Jim Carr was the producer.
Judges in the Television–Features category were Dave Johnson, television producer, host and longtime racing voice of the Triple Crown; Peter Lasser of Lasser Productions and Pat Scanlon of Shamrock Communications.