The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced that longtime ABC sportscaster and owner/breeder Jim McKay has been named the recipient of the Eclipse Award of Merit, presented in honor of an individual's lifetime achievements in Thoroughbred racing. A committee composed of representatives from the Eclipse Award-presenting organizations -- the NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association -- selected McKay by unanimous vote. Said committee member and Daily Racing Form Editor Steven Crist, "Jim has given Thoroughbred racing much of its television identity. No other sportscaster is so well associated with our sport and no one conveyed its thrills and excitement with the same voice of enthusiasm."ABC Sports, which has broadcast Thoroughbred racing for the past 26 years and all of the Triple Crown races since 1987, received both Eclipse Awards for National Television this year, sweeping the Live Racing Programming and Features categories. ABC has won a total of 11 Eclipse Awards since 1971.In addition to honors for his work on ABC's Eclipse Award-winning telecasts, McKay's racing industry awards include the Joe Palmer Award from the National Turf Writers Association (2000); the Big Sport of Turfdom Award from the Turf Publicists of America (1986); the Old Hilltop Award from the Maryland Jockey Club (1984); and the Engelhard Award from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (1990 and 1977). A member of The Jockey Club, McKay is also the founder and chairman of the Maryland Million, the first state-bred event of its kind and now Maryland's second-leading day of racing. He has also served as a Special Advisor to the President of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations.McKay, a Philadelphia native, started his career in television in 1947 at WMAR-TV in Maryland after a stint with the Baltimore Sun. His was the first voice ever heard on television in Baltimore. After three years, he moved to New York and joined CBS as a host of a variety show. Throughout the 1950s, McKay's assignments continued to include more and more sports commentary. He was the anchorman for the Masters and PGA Golf Championships and covered horseracing, among other sports. Moving to ABC, McKay became the first host of ABC's Wide World of Sports when it debuted in April 1961. The first sports commentator to win an Emmy Award (1968), McKay has won a total of 13 Emmys and is a member of the Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame and the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He has also received the George Polk Memorial Award for Journalism for his coverage of the terrorist attack that occurred during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, as well as a Peabody Award, among many others.
The Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Eclipse Awards are also given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.