ELMONT, N.Y. – David Grening of the Daily Racing Form and Bob Fortus of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans earned top honors as The New York Racing Association, Inc., (NYRA) announced the winners of the inaugural Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Contest, recognizing the best in print and internet coverage of the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes in 2009.

Grening won in the feature/advance category for a story on trainer Tim Ice that appeared in DRF’s Saturday, June 6 edition and ran under the headline: “Ice’s small stable has a big future.” The article chronicled the emergence of the 35-year-old Ice, which in many ways mirrored the rise of Summer Bird, who went on to win the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 3-year-old colt.

Fortus earned top honors in the wrap-up division for his story that appeared in the Sunday, June 7 edition of the Times-Picayune entitled: “Summer Bird stuns Belmont favorites; Personal Triple Crown narrowly eludes Borel” and which began “The other Bird won, and so did the other Cajun.”

Each of the winners will receive an engraved Tiffany crystal bowl, which is to be presented Wednesday morning, June 2, at Belmont Park during the official draw breakfast for the 142nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.

The awards are named in honor of Joe Hirsch, the longtime executive sports columnist for the Daily Racing Form who died on January 9, 2009. A native New Yorker, Hirsch was known as the dean of American turf writers and retired in 2003 after a 50-year career covering racing.