The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association announced Jan. 7 that NBC Sports has won the 2009 Media Eclipse Award in the National Television Feature programming category for its documentary “The Story of Mine That Bird, 50-1”, which aired at the beginning of its Preakness Stakes (gr. I) telecast on May 16, 2009.
This is the third National Television Feature Media Eclipse Award for NBC, which previously won the award in 2002 and in 2005.
“The Story of Mine That Bird,” produced by Rob Hyland and Jack Felling, recounted the incredible tale of a lightly regarded 3-year-old who came from New Mexico—and from last place—to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The documentary was narrated by Bob Costas.
According to Hyland, the documentary started to take shape shortly after Mine That Bird hit the wire in the Derby.
“In conversations with Sam Flood (NBC Sports’ coordinating producer), we had to tell the story of a how a 50-1 longshot came to win the Derby,” said Hyland in a release. “There were so many layers of the story, filled with high drama, that we needed to let the viewers know.”
Supported by interviews with Mine That Bird’s owners, Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen, trainer Chip Woolley, and jockey Calvin Borel, NBC reached back to the colt’s 2-year-old season, his disappointing Derby preps at Sunland Park, Woolley’s 1,500-mile van ride to the Derby, his “walkover”’ to the Churchill Downs paddock while on crutches, and the jubilation of the connections following the race.
“We edited around the clock for the next 12 days right up until the Preakness, as more parts to the story were unfolding,” Hyland added. Those unfolding events included the sale of Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra to Jess Jackson; Rachel Alexandra’s entry in the Preakness; and Borel’s decision to get off Mine That Bird to ride the filly in racing’s second jewel of the Triple Crown.
“Telling this story is the true essence of horse racing,” said Hyland. “It reminds us that anything can happen on any given day. For me, personally, it’s a true honor to win an Eclipse Award because my wife’s father is a horse trainer.” Hyland is married to Michelle Matz, daughter of Michael Matz, who trained 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.
Honorable mention in the National Television Feature programming category went to HRTV for “Inside Information - Nowhere to Run” about recovery efforts at the Fair Grounds race track in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The program aired on Sept. 6, 2009. Amy Zimmerman was executive producer.
Judges in the National Television – Features category were Howard Sudberry, former sports director of WBBM- TV – Chicago; Peter Lasser of Lasser Productions and G.D. Hieronymus, Director of Broadcast Services for Keeneland Association.
The Eclipse Awards are presented by the NTRA, NTWA, and Daily Racing Form. Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements in North America have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
The 39th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held on Jan. 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. For hotel accommodations and Eclipse Awards ceremony reservations, contact Michele Ravencraft at the NTRA's Lexington office, (800) 792-6872, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.