Wright Thompson has won the 2010 Media Eclipse Award for writing in the feature/commentary category for “The Legend of Zenyatta,” which appeared on Espn.com Oct. 10.
This is the first Media Eclipse Award for Thompson, 34, of Oxford, Miss., who has been a senior writer for Espn.com since 2006.
In first person, Thompson told the story of Zenyatta’s career through interviews with the main players of Team Zenyatta, painting individual portraits of owners Jerry and Ann Moss; trainer John Shirreffs; racing manager Dottie Ingordo; and jockey Mike Smith.
Thompson reveals the simple joy that Zenyatta brought to the barn at Hollywood Park for her handlers and the fans around her. Throughout the piece, Thompson searched to explain the mysterious connection between horses and humans through Zenyatta’s popularity and revealed a foreboding sense of loss around the barn when thoughts turned to Zenyatta’s eventual retirement:
“The fans are in awe because of the human traits they've superimposed on her actions, blurring the line between a starlet and a horse. The stories from the few people lucky enough to see her up close are downright giddy. But not long after arriving at Barn 55, I notice something unexpected. It's a feeling, a vibe, hard to pin down exactly. The people in the barn are in awe, too, but seemingly for a different reason. They see the shadow cast when the sun shines on this magical time, and they realize none of them will ever be around a horse like this again”.
“To win the Eclipse Award is truly a special honor,” said Thompson, who prior to Espn.com worked for the Kansas City Star and the New Orleans Times Picayune. “For the first time I understood what this horse meant to the people who are around her every day. I found people who loved an animal and wanted to see her succeed. It was special to see a relationship like that from the inside. It was a fantastic experience. I am grateful to John Shirreffs and the Mosses for the experience to be around their horse.”
For the complete story of “The Legend of Zenyatta,” Click here: http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/eticket/story?page=101104/Zenyatta
The panel of judges for the feature/commentary writing category was comprised of Matthew Graves, former racing writer and columnist for the Albany Times-Union; Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun; and Bob Kieckhefer of United Press International. The decision of the judges was unanimous.
The 40th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.