Brian Hiro of the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., has won the 2007 Media Eclipse Award for writing in the Feature/Enterprise category, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced Dec. 27.
This is the first Media Eclipse Award for Hiro, 32, who won the honor with his three-part series entitled "Death and Durability of the Racehorse" which was published from August 12-14, 2007.
From San Marcos, Calif., Hiro has been a general assignment reporter in the sports department of the North County Times since 2001.
“It’s a gigantic surprise,” said Hiro upon learning of the Eclipse Award. “It is an honor to be recognized for an award as competitive or as significant as this one.”
In developing the series, Hiro devoted the first part to examining the increasing number of injuries to racehorses at North American racetracks and the industry’s response to stepped up research and management of the problem. Part two explored the vast changes and economics in the North American breeding industry over the past 30 years, including the focus on speed over stamina and increased use of medication in racehorses over this time period. The final of the part of series concentrated on the industry’s reaction to racehorse injuries through the introduction of synthetic surfaces, and their various levels of success at North American racetracks.
Hiro indicated that the story originally was targeted as an article on synthetic racing surfaces, but the project was expanded when he gathered information and results from the 2006 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, hosted by the Keeneland Association.
“The Summit was a big breakthrough in expanding the story to a series,” Hiro continued. “The industry gathered a wealth of information on horse safety, and I found people such as Ed Bowen [president of the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation] and Dr. Rick Arthur [equine medical director of the California Racing Board], to be especially knowledgeable and passionate about improving conditions for racehorses. The Summit tied it all together. I found people in the industry who saw a problem right in front of them and were trying to make changes that will bear fruit.”
Hiro, a native of Tampa, Fla., is a graduate of Notre Dame, and later earned post graduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Honorable mention in the Writing – Features/Enterprise category went to Bill Handleman for “’Hollywood’ Gets a Second Go Round at Age 50” about former jockey Herb McCauley, which appeared in the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press on Sept. 9, 2007; and to Shannon Russell for “A Remarkable Tale of Determination” on the recovery of jockey Perry Ouzts, which was published in the Cincinnati Inquirer on Feb. 18, 2007.
The panel of judges for the Features/Enterprise Writing category was comprised of Paul Moran, former racing writer and columnist for Newsday; Fred Klein, former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and George Solomon, former sports editor of the Washington Post.
The Eclipse Awards are presented by the NTRA, National Turf Writers Association (NTWA) and Daily Racing Form. Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements 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 37th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held Jan. 21, 2008 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.