Anne M. Eberhardt

Eclipse Award to ESPN for Belmont Program

Program aired on ABC network and focused on jockey Calvin Borel.

ESPN's telecast of the 2009 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), produced by Mike McQuade, has won the Media Eclipse Award for National Television – Live Racing. The Belmont Stakes program was aired on ABC on June 6, 2009, from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

"We are extremely proud to win this award," said McQuade, who is senior coordinating producer for ESPN, in a release from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which, along with the National Turf Writers Association and Daily Racing Form, presents the Eclipse Awards. "No one works harder on this sport than we do. For this year’s Belmont, we wanted to give the viewers knowledge of as many individuals involved in the race as possible, not just the favorites, but all of the connections, and provide them an overall context for the show."

The ESPN program focused on the main story line of Calvin Borel, who was trying to become the first rider to sweep the three legs of the Triple Crown with two different horses. Borel had won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird, only to opt for the filly Rachel Alexandra in the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I). In the Belmont, for which Rachel Alexandra was not entered, Borel was reunited with Mine That Bird. ESPN interviewed Borel before the race from the jockeys’ room, and again following Mine That Bird’s third-place finish, when ESPN raised the question of whether Borel had moved prematurely to the lead.

ESPN also captured the responses of winning trainer Tim Ice and rider Kent Desormeaux following Summer Bird’s upset victory. A year earlier, Desormeaux had lost the 2008 Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown aboard odds-on favorite Big Brown.

The ESPN production also included virtual pre-race graphics and analysis of the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont Stakes by Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and increased audio and camera coverage of the starting gate as the horses were loading for the race.

The Belmont Stakes telecast was directed by Doug Holmes.Joe Tessitore hosted the program, joined by analysts Randy Moss, Kenny Mayne, and Jerry Bailey. Jeannine Edwards and Jay Privman were the reporters, and Hank Goldberg was the handicapper. The two-hour ABC telecast was preceded by five hours of coverage from Belmont Park on ESPN.

Judges for the National Television – Live Racing category were: Rob Duboff of Hawk Partners; Chris Svendsen of CBS Sports, and Paul Lucey of Comcast Sportsnet – New England. Honorable mention in the National Television Live Programming also went to ESPN for its production of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 7, 2009. Tim Turrell and David Ceisler were the producers of the telecast.

The 39th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held on Monday, Jan. 18, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.