01/05/2018 5:26PM

Media Eclipse Awards go to Frakes, Steffanus, Rokos


Jason Frakes of the Louisville Courier-Journal, the freelance writer Denise Steffanus, and the photographer Nancy Rokos have been named winners of Eclipse Awards for media categories, the administrators of the awards announced late on Friday.

Frakes, a sports reporter for the Courier-Journal since 2006, was named the winner of the Eclipse for feature/commentary writing for a piece he wrote in the lead-up to the 2017 Kentucky Derby profiling the trainer Antonio Sano, who saddled Gunnevera in the Derby. Sano, who was once Venezuela’s leading trainer, was kidnapped twice in his native country, leading him to make a new home in the U.S. in 2009.

“I wasn’t the first person to tell Antonio’s story,” Frakes said, in a release distributed by the administrators of the award. “I approached the story for people who don’t follow horse racing very much and maybe are learning about it for the first time. I told my editors this was the most intriguing story of the Derby.”

Steffanus, who was a contributing editor for the Thoroughbred Times from 1995-2012, was named the winner of the Eclipse Award for news/enterprise writing for a story appearing in the February-March issue of Trainer magazine examining environmental contamination issues in racing.

“It’s the epitome of my career,” said Steffanus, who is a former trainer. “It’s what I’ve wanted since I began writing for horse racing publications.”

Rokos, a staff photographer for the Burlington County Times in New Jersey since 1983, was selected for the Eclipse Award for photography for a photograph taken in the paddock at Belmont Park on Oct. 7 showing the jockey Luis Saez sliding off a rearing horse while the horse’s handlers and a crowd behind the horse react to the incident.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect this,” said Rokos. “I never expected this, but it’s breathtaking to win this prestigious award. I get such joy from photographing these unbelievable creatures, their beauty, stamina, grace, and athleticism.”