Ransom honored with Stan Bergstein Writing Award

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TwinSpires Staff

November 16th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Margaret Ransom has won the Stan Bergstein Writing Award for a story that revealed dire conditions for more than 40 horses at a Kentucky farm that led to animal cruelty charges against Chuck and Maria Borell.

Ransom's story prompted aid from outside horsemen and equine retirement groups and an investigation from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which charged Chuck Borell and his daughter, Maria, for abandoning the horses in their care at a Mercer County Farm. Chuck Borell pled guilty to nine charges in September. His daughter, Maria, who trained last year's champion sprinter Runhappy, was also charged with 43 counts of animal cruelty. State and local officials seized the horses and volunteers and retirement farms stepped in for their care.

Ransom’s prize is $25,000 from Team Valor and its CEO, Barry Irwin.

"Margaret exposed a problem and led to action, which is what this award is all about, so she deserves credit and recognition for her work,” Irwin said.

Team Valor nominates stories throughout the year and assigns a panel of judges to select an award winner. This year's judges for nine nominations were racetrack announcer Trevor Denman, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, and veteran turf writers Neil Milbert, Maryjean Wall and Michael Veitch.

“The initial reaction of many following the firing of Maria Borell was to come to her defense,” said Wall, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and three-time Media Eclipse Award winner as the long-time Turf writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “However, Margaret Ransom’s thorough research revealed there was much, much more to this story than the popular press initially reported. The article took a trending news item and went after the unanswered questions.

“While all entries did a good job taking readers beyond the obvious, this one dealt with a topic of intense emotional interest to an audience exceeding the bounds of racing insiders, and did so in a reader-friendly way.”

Photo of Margaret Ransom with Team Valor's CEO Barry Irwin, right, and Jeff Lowe, left, courtesy of Team Valor