Four sports writers, including two honorees who established records with their latest awards, have been honored by Churchill Downs as winners in the 20th annual Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Contest.Rick Bozich of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. earned a record eighth Red Smith award as he was honored in the Advance division. Bozich's award, his fifth in that category, was also a record. Mike Kane of the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y. became the first writer to win a Red Smith Award in four consecutive years. Kane, who was honored in 2001 for his Kentucky Derby Advance, was honored this year in the Sunday Wrap-up division -- his third win in that category in four years.Bozich and Kane are joined on the roster of 2002 Red Smith recipients by another multiple honoree and a first-time winner. Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal earned her fourth Red Smith award as she was honored in the Feature category and Lew Freedman of the Chicago Tribune notched his first-ever Red Smith award when his entry was judged as the best Monday
Wrap-Up piece.Each honoree will receive an engraved sterling silver mint julep cup similar to those used to toast the Kentucky Derby winner each year at the Churchill Downs president's reception that follows the famed "Run for the Roses." The awards are named in honor of Walter W. "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. Bozich's winning entry, "These old-timers are still prime-timers," profiled five prominent, middle-aged jockeys and examined whether their age had any bearing on their chances to win the 128th Kentucky Derby. With this year's win, Bozich has now earned Red Smith awards in three separate decades. He collected his first when he was honored in the Advance category in 1989 and scored subsequent wins in that division in 1993, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Bozich also earned a Red Smith Award in 1990 for Monday Wrap-Up and scored back-to-back wins in the Feature category in 1993 and 1994.Kane's string of Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Contest awards in four consecutive years began when he was honored for his Sunday Wrap-Up in 1999. He also won in that division in 2000 and last year he was honored in the Advance category. This year's winning Sunday Wrap-Up entry was entitled "Long shot waits then wins." Kane's winning entry examined the patience of winning jockey Victor Espinoza, who followed trainer Bob Baffert's simple instructions to "wait" before he asked front-running War Emblem for his best on Derby Day. Kane is a New York correspondent for The Blood-Horse and anchored daily coverage of this year's Saratoga meet for bloodhorse.com.Rees, the only woman to ever win a Red Smith award, was honored for the second consecutive year and the fourth time overall. Her winning Feature entry, "Sue McPeek's Derby Diary" provided insight and perspective from Susan McPeek, the wife of trainer Ken McPeek and a cancer survivor. McPeek's husband trained several major contenders for the spring classics, including eventual Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday. The 2002 honor was the second in the Feature division for Rees, who also won that category in 1997. She was honored last year for her Sunday Wrap-up, the category in which she earned her first Red Smith in 1993.
Freedman's win in the Monday Wrap-Up category marked the first time a Chicago-based writer has received a Red Smith award. His winning entry, "It's much more than a race," chronicled this year's renewal of the Derby and the traditions and events that help to make the race a passion to fans and horsemen alike.