Privman, Haight, Mann selected to the Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Daily Racing Form national correspondent Jay Privman and the late turf writers Walter Haight and Jack Mann have been selected to the National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor.
Privman, 62, a resident of Carlsbad, Calif., covered his first race in 1980 — Spectacular Bid’s victory in the Malibu Stakes — while in college at California State University, Northridge, and working part-time for The Los Angeles Daily News. Privman worked for The Daily News full-time from 1981 through 1991, then became West Coast editor for The Racing Times (1991 to 1992) and West Coast correspondent for The New York Times (1992 to 1998). He also was a correspondent for The Thoroughbred Record and The Thoroughbred Times (1983 to 1998) before joining Daily Racing Form in October 1998.
Along with his distinguished print career, Privman served as a television reporter or handicapper for CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBCSN from 1998 through 2018 and host of “Thoroughbred Los Angeles,” a Saturday morning show on AM830 KLAA, from 2003 to present. He covered every Kentucky Derby from 1982 through 2019 (missing 2020 and 2021 because of covid and a health issue, respectively) and every Breeders’ Cup from the inaugural in 1984 through 2021 (with the exception of 2020 because of the pandemic).
Author of the books “Breeders’ Cup: Thoroughbred Racing’s Championship Day,” and “Del Mar at 75” and a contributing writer to the Daily Racing Form book “Champions,” Privman has earned numerous honors for his racing coverage. He is a six-time winner of the Red Smith Award (1989, 1990, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2008) from Churchill Downs for the best Kentucky Derby story; a two-time winner of the David F. Woods Award (2002, 2013) from the Maryland Jockey Club for the best Preakness Stakes story; and a two-time winner of the Joe Hirsch Award (2010, 2016) from the New York Racing Association for the best Belmont Stakes story.
Privman’s Breeders’ Cup awards include six Joe Hirsch Awards (2001, 2003, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2018) for news reporting and the Bill Leggett Award (2017) for feature writing. Other honors include the Old Hilltop Award from the Maryland Jockey Club (2005); Walter Haight Award, from the National Turf Writers Association (2005); induction into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (2011); and the Charles W. Engelhard Award, from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (2016). Privman has also been a reporter on eight Eclipse Award-winning broadcasts: three each with ESPN and NBC and one each with Sirius Radio and Fox Sports West 2.
Haight (1899 ̶ 1968), a native of Washington, D.C., joined The Washington Post in 1924, embarking on a prolific 44-year run with the paper. He started with The Post as a general assignment reporter and began covering thoroughbred racing for the paper in 1932. He reported on his first Kentucky Derby that year, beginning a streak of 37 consecutive years writing about the event. Haight was The Post’s racing writer and editor for 36 years and held the honorary
No. 1 seat in the Churchill Downs press box for his longevity covering the Run for the Roses.
Known for his storytelling ability, Haight had a 2-year-old horse named after him in 1941 that provided him fodder for several entertaining columns. Haight was known to inject himself into his writing through first-person narratives, and in the book “Bred to Run,” he created a horse named Flat Tire that had whimsical conversations with the author.
A charter member and president of the Maryland Racing Writers Association and a vice president of the National Turf Writers Association, Haight has a career excellence award named in his honor annually presented by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Upon his death in 1968, The BloodHorse said Haight “wrote with glee, for he saw the humor and the drama in the game” of racing. The publication described him as a “jolly man” who reveled in his role as “Aesop of the press box. Some of his funniest stories never made it into print. He could relate to the intricate machinations of past-posting a bookie, or the heart-breaking collapse of a four-horse parlay, with an admixture of merry pathos that kept listeners enthralled for hours.”
Mann (1925 ̶ 2000), a New York City native, began his writing career in 1940 while in high school for the weekly Long Islander. He attended Columbia University for a year on the GI Bill and served with the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946 in the North Pacific during and immediately after World War II. In 1947, he returned to newspapers as a reporter and editor of two Long Island weeklies, then joined Newsday, first as a reporter, then as assistant city editor, then as sports editor.
Specializing in coverage of horse racing and baseball, Mann wrote for Newsday (1952 to 1962); The Detroit Free Press (1962 to 1963); The New York Herald-Tribune (1963 to 1965); Sports Illustrated (1965 to 1967); The Miami Herald (1968 to 1970); The Washington Daily News (1970 to 1971); The Washington Star (1971 to 1972); The Baltimore Evening Sun (1980 to 1990); and The Racing Times (1991 to 1992), among others. While sports editor at Newsday, Mann led the section’s transition from having a local focus to one that covered sports nationwide.
Mann won an Eclipse Award in 1987 and was honored with the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association in 1993. He also received the Maryland Jockey Club’s Old Hilltop Award for lifetime achievement. Mann also authored the 1966 book, “The Decline and Fall of the New York Yankees.” Along with racing and baseball, Mann also covered professional football and did freelance work for Look, Life, People, and Penthouse magazines, among others.
Known for his attention to detail, Mann also had a combative side that led him to tangle with his superiors and often change employers.
“He did some outstanding stuff, but at some point, no matter how well he was doing, somebody would fool with his copy,” said Clem Florio of the Maryland Jockey Club upon Mann’s death in 2000. “They just couldn’t leave their hands off of his stuff. He cared about getting the facts straight and writing well. He said he’d been fired from the best.
“He was a very special kind of guy. He had a special insight into things — and he was a stickler for English. He’d say, ‘If you’re going to tell a story, tell it right. If you’re going to write, write correctly.’ He kept a bulletin board of faux pas, including his own.”
At Newsday, Mann was fired, but returned in the early 1960s — when he either quit or was fired again, according to Newsday sports columnist Steve Jacobson, who was first hired by Mann.
“He’s the guy who dragged Newsday from local sports into the big leagues, Jacobson said. “He was brilliant.”
Previous selections to the Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor are Steven Crist (2010), Charles Hatton (2010), Bill Nack (2010), Red Smith (2010), Dr. Russ Harris (2011), Joe Palmer (2011), Jay Hovdey (2012), Whitney Tower (2012), Andrew Beyer (2013), Kent Hollingsworth (2013), George F. T. Ryall (2013), Jim Murray (2014), Jennie Rees (2014), Raleigh Burroughs (2015), Steve Haskin (2015), Jim McKay (2016), Maryjean Wall (2016), Barney Nagler (2017), Michael Veitch (2017), Jack Whitaker (2017), Joe Burnham (2018), Tom Hammond (2018), Charlsie Cantey (2019), Billy Reed (2019), Pierre “Peb” Bellocq (2020), and William Leggett (2020).
The National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor was established in 2010 to recognize individuals whose careers have been dedicated to, or substantially involved in, writing about thoroughbred racing (non-fiction), and who distinguished themselves as journalists. The criteria has since been expanded to allow the consideration of other forms of media.
Often referred to as the dean of thoroughbred racing writers, Hirsch won both the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Writing and the Lord Derby Award in London from the Horserace Writers and Reporters Association of Great Britain. He also received the Eclipse Award of Merit (1993), the Big Sport of Turfdom Award (1983), The Jockey Club Medal (1989), and was designated as the honored guest at the 1994 Thoroughbred Club of America’s testimonial dinner. The annual Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park is named in his honor. Hirsch, who died in 2009, was also a former chair of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Nominating Committee and the founder of the National Turf Writers Association.
The Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor Committee is comprised of Edward L. Bowen (chairman), author of more than 20 books on thoroughbred racing; Bob Curran, retired Jockey Club vice president of corporate communications; Ken Grayson, National Museum of Racing trustee; Jane Goldstein, retired turf publicist; Steve Haskin, Secretariat.com and longtime BloodHorse columnist; G. D. Hieronymus, retired Keeneland director of broadcast services; Jay Hovdey, five-time Eclipse Award-winning writer; and Dan Smith, retired senior media coordinator of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
For more information about the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, including upcoming events, please visit www.racingmuseum.org or call (518) 584-0400.