Articles

“It is an inquisitive, probing prose that you find here, seeking primarily to make the reader feel he has grown to know the subject of the article has he really is, not merely as he appears to the occupant of a seat in the stands.” – Ed Fitzgerald, A Treasury of Sports Stories

Ms. Novak’s regular features appear at ESPN.com, where her coverage ranges from profiles of industry figures to raceday reports and recollections. Samples of her work may be found below.

Rene Douglas: Two Months Later – (nominated for a media Eclipse Award, 2009)
“Many parallels have been drawn between horse racing and boxing, two now-lagging sports that once shared glory days. And in many ways, the riders are like boxers, determined to stay on top of the game until something profound forces them out. For Douglas, the subject is an emotional one, because he always gave 110 percent of his effort when he rode, and he won races, and it shouldn’t have ended this way. It’s emotional because these are his friends, his brothers, doing the same thing, taking the same risks, their lives suspended on two little silver stirrups in the hands of fate. It’s emotional because now he realizes more than ever that every time he passed the wire and every time he came home safely to his family, it was another day he had been given, as a gift.” (more)

Derby 135 Casts Fresh Memories
“Here came our predecessors: the power-suited professionals of the 1980s and ’90s, the long-haired flower children of the ’60s and ’70s, the fedora-wearing, Bel Air-driving, cocktails-at-happy-hour couples of the ’50s. Here also came the racing generations, those uniformed attendees of the 1940s, the Depression-fighting classes of the ’30s, the flappers and their collegiate admirers of the roaring ’20s. And came the founding fathers, blazing a trail, to whom this place was new and fresh and exciting in 1910 and 1900 and all the way back to 1874, when the story began at Churchill Downs, on the first Saturday in May. Thus came we here today, trodding history’s footprints to make our own, the grandstand overflowing, the infield a teeming sea of humanity, the press box buzzing with commentary and news tips and light banter. Came we in our best clothes, our bow ties and string ties and long ties and dresses and high heels and hats, of course hats. Thus we became the masses; thousands pressing forward for a look at greatness. And unexpected, in a plucky long shot, found it.” (more)

Falling in love with Zenyatta (an Apple Blossom story)
“Quaint” is how Arkansas natives describe the town of Hot Springs itself, and going to the races anywhere else in the country is often viewed in the same light — a unique experience, something you’d do once or twice per year, as a special occasion. But the success of a racetrack makes perfect sense in Hot Springs, where retirees spend their days tending the lawn and garden, maintaining memberships to local country clubs, and walking down to the post office and the American Legion. To them, horse racing is as easily recognizable as the other things that are gradually fading to extinction: hand-written letters and Friday evening dinner parties and cash carried in your wallet and hard vinyl 78 records with the shiny center labels — Glenn Miller Masterpieces! The Fabulous King Sisters! The Tommy Dorsey Band! (more)

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