The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Jan. 8 that ESPN Classic has won the Eclipse Award for National Television -- Features category with its "SportsCentury: Top 50 and Beyond" profile of Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker. The hour-long show, which aired June 8, was produced by ESPN Classic under the leadership of Mark Shapiro and Jim Cohen. This is ESPN Classic's first, and ESPN's fourth, Eclipse Award."The life of Willie Shoemaker was made for SportsCentury," said Shapiro. "From his meager beginnings and the hard, long run to victory and fame, 'The Shoe' earned not only the respect of his peers, but became the people's choice. His story illuminates the undying spirit of horseracing, and I'm thrilled that we're being acknowledged with an Eclipse Award."
Judges for the National Television -- Features category include Paul Lucey, a producer for Fox Sports Net - New England; Donna Orender, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of television, productions and new media; and Stu Kirshenbaum, an Emmy award-winning freelance producer whose subjects include Thoroughbred racing. "This was a very unbiased, fair report on Willie Shoemaker's life and career," said Lucey. "They talked to a lot of people and got many different viewpoints on his career. And the production itself was very well done. It was obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into that program."Eclipse Awards are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. Eclipse Awards also are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of champion in their respective categories. The awards are presented by the NTRA, the National Turf Writers Association and Daily Racing Form. The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbys. Media Eclipse Award winners will be honored at the 31st annual Eclipse Awards Dinner, to be held Monday, Feb. 18, 2002, at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach, Fla.