Jerardi, Ford, Jensen Take Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Honors

(Edited press release)
Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News became a five-time winner and three newcomers earned top honors as Churchill Downs announced the winners of its 2006 Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Contest, which annually recognizes the best in print media coverage of the Run for the Roses.

The city of Philadelphia dominated this year's competition as newspapers published in the city carry the bylines of three of the four Red Smith Derby contest winners.

Jerardi took his fifth Red Smith award overall as he earned the top honor in the "Monday wrap-up" category for a fourth time. Newcomers to the roster of Red Smith award winners include two writers Bob Ford and Mike Jensen from the Philadelphia Inquirer in. Ford was honored in the "advance" division, while Jensen won for his "Sunday wrap-up." The only 2006 Red Smith winner that was not based in Philadelphia was Wright Thompson of the Kansas City Star, who earned an award for his entry in the "feature" category.

Each of the winners will receive an engraved silver equine-themed serving tray, which is to be presented during the annual National Turf Writers Association Awards Dinner Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. (EST) at the Olmstead in Louisville, Ky.

The awards are named in honor of Walter "Red" Smith, the legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter and columnist, who was best known for his work with the New York Herald Tribune and New York Times. Smith died in 1982 and Churchill Downs established the Red Smith Writing Contest the following year.

Jerardi was honored with a Red Smith award for the second consecutive year for his "Monday wrap-up" of the sizzling Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) victory by Lael Stable's Barbaro that ran in the Daily News under the headline: "Barbaro Goes On Ride For The Ages: Overwhelming Derby run sets stage for history." He had earned a 2005 Red Smith Award in the "advance" category. Jerardi is now tied with Steve Haskin of The Blood-Horse for the most wins in that category. Jerardi's honor was the ninth Red Smith earned by a Daily News journalist.

Ford earned his first Kentucky Derby Writing Contest award in the "advance" category for his Inquirer story that ran under the headline of "A Day of Flash and Dash: Equal parts tradition and competition, the Derby promises not to disappoint."

Jensen's first Red Smith Award came in the "Sunday wrap-up" for an Inquirer story on Barbaro's Derby victory that carried the headline "Unbeaten Barbaro Easily Wins Derby."

The award to Thompson in the "feature" category honored a Kansas City Star story on the dominance of African-American jockeys in the early decades of the Kentucky Derby. Thompson's story ran under the headline of "A Lost Legacy: black jockeys dominated the early days of the Derby, but were soon pushed aside and mostly forgotten."