Tod Marks, who covers many National Steeplechase Association race meets and whose work is featured on nationalsteeplechase.com, has been honored with the 2016 Eclipse Award for outstanding photography for a photo taken at the Iroquois Steeplechase in May.
The photo appeared in the July-August issue of The Chronicle of the Horse Untacked. In the photo, Hooded and jockey Jack Doyle streak past an airborne Kieran Norris in the George and John Sloan Hurdle.
“Tod has our heartiest congratulations,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “Photography is vitally important to communicating the richness and excitement of steeplechase racing in ways that words cannot match. Tod is a true professional whose work pays tribute to the sport.”
This is the first Eclipse Award for Marks, who resides in Yonkers, N.Y., and is a regular contributor to The Chronicle of the Horse, The Saratoga Special, thisishorseracing.com, and many other publications. He’s also the primary photographer for the National Steeplechase Association. In 2010, Marks was honored with Canada’s Sovereign Award for Photography.
Marks will receive his trophy at the 46th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 21, at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Eclipse Awards are presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup, and The Stronach Group and produced by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
“This is an immense honor and I am deeply touched,” said Marks. “It’s fair to say I am humbled, overwhelmed, and stunned. Like many of my fellow photographers, I am driven by my admiration for these magnificent, quirky creatures who give their all. Their beauty, majesty, and power fuel my love for the game and feed my desire to showcase the racehorse–and those around them–in new and different ways.
“My grandmother introduced me to horse racing as a five-year-old. I recall sitting on her lap watching the Race of the Week hosted by Win Elliot and Fred Capossela on local TV here in New York. That childhood fascination burns as brightly for me now as it did back then. I am fortunate to have been able to turn that passion into a career.”
In the Sloan Hurdle, Norris was unseated from Help From Heaven while avoiding a fallen runner, Bishop’s Castle. Doyle kept Hooded out of trouble, albeit in tight quarters with the airborne Norris.
“Instead of following the fallen horses, the instinctive thing to do, I tossed a coin inside my head and opted to track Hooded, the leader, and Norris, who flew into the frame, pressing the shutter at the right moment,” Marks said. “Photography is all about timing–being in the right place, at the right time, and at the ready. But you have to have luck, too.” Marks took the winning photograph with a Nikon D3S equipped with a 70-200mm/f2.8 lens.
“As a print journalist in my other life for more than 35 years, I have a special appreciation for photography, specifically sports photojournalism. Unlike writing, in which everyone has an opinion as to how to approach and write a story, with photography there’s no ambiguity, no do-overs. Either you get the shot or you don’t. And when you hit a home run, it connects on a visceral or emotional level that’s even more powerful than words.”