Edited press release
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association announced Dec. 31 that Billy Reed, long time sports writer and columnist, has won the 2008 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Commentary category for his column “A Rose for Eight Belles," which appeared in the May 16 issue of Thoroughbred Times.
This is the third Media Eclipse Award for Reed, 65, of Louisville, Ky. He previously won the 1979 Media Eclipse Award for Newspaper writing for an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal on jockey Ron Turcotte, and again for Newspaper writing in 1988 for an article on trainer D. Wayne Lukas, which appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Reed was a sports editor and columnist for the Courier-Journal and columnist for the Herald-Leader, as well as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated.
“I am stunned to win this award again”, said Reed. “I just love racing. I have covered every major sporting event, but the Derby is still my favorite one. I went to the backstretch morning after this year’s race to express my sympathies to the connections of Eight Belles and brought my 5-year-old granddaughter, Caroline, with me. I was trying to gain some perspective to it all and decided to write the column.”
The following day, with Caroline, who had drawn a picture of Eight Belles on Derby morning, Reed visited Eight Belles’s trainer Larry Jones, as a part of a search for answers to the mystery of the love for the race horse.
Reed writes: “When an accident happens, racetrackers do not point fingers. They do not blame the trainer or the track condition. They only drop their heads or brush back a tear or give somebody a hug. Then they go back to work. The horses must be fed and groomed and exercised. Life must go on. The grandfather told the little girl he had no explanation, except that maybe God just decided he needed a fast horse, and so it was time for him to call Eight Belles home. She listened, brow furrowed. She thought. Then she said she wanted to take her drawing and a rose to the track to give to the people who took care of Eight Belles.”
Honorable mention in the Writing – News/Commentary category went to six-time Media Eclipse Award winner, Bill Nack, for “Eight Belles Breakdown: A Predictable Tragedy,” which appeared on ESPN.com on May 16, 2008.
The panel of judges for the Writing – News/Commentary category was comprised of Reid Cherner, USA Today; Frank Deford, HBO Sports correspondent and 1975 Media Eclipse Award winner; and Ed Schuyler, former Associated Press horse racing and boxing writer.
The 38th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held on Monday, Jan. 26, 2009 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.