By Ken Weingartner — Derick Giwner and Melissa Keith were named winners of the 2019 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism while Chris Gooden and Mark Hall were named recipients of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography and Woodbine Entertainment Group was selected winner of the Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Tuesday.
The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners.
Giwner won in the news or commentary category for his column, “Rolling the sport into the future,” which appeared in the Feb. 9 edition of DRF Harness Weekend. To read the piece, click here. It is Giwner’s first Hervey Award.
Keith won in the feature writing category for her two-part story on the death of Ron Graham that appeared in Harness Racing Update. The first part, “The tragic and mysterious death of a harness horseman,” appeared April 14 and can be read here. The second part, “A wanderer with an incredible heart,” appeared May 24 and can be read here. It is Keith’s third Hervey Award and second in this category.
Honorable mentions went to Mike Farrell (writing for the Hambletonian Society) and James Platz (Harness Racing Update) in news/commentary and to Platz, Brandon Valvo (writing for the Breeders Crown) and Gordon Waterstone (The Horseman and Fair World) in feature writing.
The writing categories were judged by NTRA Director of Communications Alicia Hughes, Eclipse Award-winning writer Joe Nevills, and former Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn.
In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race/action category for his photograph, “Noses on the Gate,” which appeared online Feb. 19 on The Meadows Racing website. Gooden is a three-time Smallsreed winner.
Hall won in the feature category for his photograph, “Shining Moment,” that appeared on the cover of the July issue of Hoof Beats. It is Hall’s seventh Smallsreed honor.
Honorable mentions went to Clive Cohen (Woodbine Mohawk Park Facebook and Instagram) in race/action and to Michael Burns (Woodbine Mohawk Park website) and Dave Landry (Harness Racing Update) in feature.
Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe.
In the McKee competition, Woodbine Entertainment Group broadcast department was honored for its story on French trotter Bold Eagle’s appearance in the Breeders Crown, which aired Oct. 26 on the TSN4 television network. The producer was Phil McSween, director of photography was Gage Fletcher and David Syrie, and the editor was Jason Vanderzee. The win gave WEG its fourth award in the broadcast division. To watch the piece, click here.
Honorable mention went to True Nature Communications Inc.’s feature on Trevor Ritchie for the Breeders Crown.
Entries for the Sam McKee Award were judged by former longtime Thoroughbred Week host and co-producer John Henderson.
For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s website.
Award-Winning Photos by Chris Gooden and Mark Hall
Ken Weingartner, an HRI harness contributor, for the United States Harness Writers Association