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Dec 29, 2011

A pair of Media Eclipse Awards announced



New York, NY (Sports Network) - Claire Novak of and Jennie Rees of the Louisville Courier-Journal have each been honored with a Media Eclipse Award for Writing. Novak received her award in the Feature/Commentary category and Rees picked up her third Eclipse for News/Enterprise writing.

Novak, a first time honoree, was recognized for her piece about longtime track announcer Tom Durkin.

"It's a great honor to win an Eclipse Award and something I wished for as a kid growing up," said Novak. "Tom Durkin is one of the most recognized and respected fixtures of our industry. Everybody knows his name, but did people really know what he was going through calling these major network races? I wanted to convey this emotional part of his career and his reaction to the changes he was experiencing."

The profile on Durkin, titled "Pressure off Durkin at Belmont," appeared on on June 10. In it, the veteran race caller described his reasons for stepping away from calling the Triple Crown races on NBC Sports.

Novak began her thoroughbred writing career following high school graduation. She founded Hopeful Farm Foundation for Children with special needs in Lexington, KY.

Rees' article, "Breeders' Cup 2011: Jockeys Rein in Their Emotions," concerned the post-race fight at the 2010 Breeders' Cup between Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano after the running of the Marathon. It dealt with the reasons for the encounter and its aftermath. It appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal on October 30.

"We're always looking for stories that will be of interest to a general audience during the showcase weeks of racing coverage, such as the Breeders' Cup," Rees said whose previously was honored in 1988 and 1993. "Having covered Borel for years and also Castellano, the explosion of emotions from these two gentlemen after the Breeders' Cup was jolting. It got me thinking about the unique dynamics of the jocks' room. Unlike anything else in professional sports, not only do these highly motivated athletes have to go back in the locker room and be with their competitors, there's the safety factor where their welfare on the track in large measure rests in each other's hands.

"We felt it was a topic that had not been fully explored. I really want to thank my newspaper and sports editor Harry Bryan for committing the time and space to tell this story. But what made the story was all the jockeys who spoke so candidly about involvement in such sometimes unpleasant situations."

The Eclipse Awards are voted upon by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters. The 41st annual Eclipse Awards will be presented on Monday, January 16 in Beverly Hills, CA.

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