NY Times story wins 1st Bergstein Award
December 04, 2012
The first annual Stanley Bergstein Writing Award was presented at a special luncheon in Lexington, KY, on Tuesday (Dec. 4). Sponsored by Barry Irwin's Team Valor International, the award went to writers Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape and Rebecca Ruiz for their New York Times story about the role of veterinarians in the use of drugs in American horse racing.
The award included a check for $25,000 and a trophy, but because the Times has an editorial policy which prevents writers from accepting awards, either in the form of money or gifts, Irwin instead gave the cash prize to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
"In the spirit in which the piece was written, we have decided to give the $25,000 award to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium," said Irwin.
In addition to announcing the winner of the first Stanely Bergstein Writing Award, the luncheon also was a tribute to Bergstein's writing, which was dominated by commentaries about issues in horse racing that needed attention.
"When Stanley Bergstein died, it created quite a void in our business," said Irwin. "When he wrote, he wrote because he had something to say, and when he had something to say, it was worth listening to. The main goal (with the award) is I wanted to keep Stanley Bergstein's spirit alive."
Bill Nack, a nine-time Eclipse Award winning writer and well-known writer for Sports Illustrated, was in attendance at the luncheon and spoke of meeting Bergstein when both were working in Chicago as young men.
Bergstein's son, Al, traveled from his home in Seattle to attend the luncheon and noted that his father was a person "who pushed for excellence, but not perfection, an important distinction to know."
Al Bergstein said that even though his father wore many hats in harness racing, he "was always a writer, first and last."
Seven stories were considered for the first annual Stanley Bergstein Writing Award: the winning article, plus the following pieces. The panel of judges was Bill Christine, retired racing writer for the Los Angeles Times; Richard Eng, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Bill Nack and Frank Defort, member Sportswriters Hall of Fame and a writer for Sports Illustrated and NPR.
• New Testing by Louisiana State Racing Commission Results in 10 Drug Positives, by Bob Fortus for the New Orleans Times-Picayune
• A Reflection on the Dark Side, by Bob Carson in the online newsletter Harness Racing Daily
• Kelsey Lefever: `Every One of Them Is Dead', by Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report website
• Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys: Death and Disarray at America's Racetracks, by Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara Miles and Griffin Palmer in the first part of a series in the New York Times
• High Purses with Little Regulation Brings Problems, by Jay Bergman for the Daily Racing Form
• The Lasix Legacy, by Bunny Hinzman, a 16-year-old blogger for the America's Best Racing webiste and her own site, Bits 'n Bunny.--By Kathy Parker