Maryanna Skowronski's love for Man o' War pays off with nice writing award

Randy McRoberts

Maryanna Skowronski’s love and obsession with race horse Man o’ War landed her a nice writing award recently from the American Horse Publications Equine Media Awards.

Skowronski, the Director of the Historical Society of Harford County, wrote a lengthy story, simply titled, “My Man o’ War,” in 2017 which was picked up and published in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine and the rest, as they say, is history.

Skowronki’s heartfelt story was entered and tabbed with a first place for Feature Single Article category for publications with circulation under 10,000 in print or online.

“I just wrote it, if you read the story, it‘s just I’ve been obsessed with Man o’ War literally, since childhood and last year was the centennial of his foaling,” Skowronski said. “So, I wrote it, basically, as a tribute to 100 years of, you know the fact that he’s still considered the greatest race horse ever in America.”

The magazine published Skowronski’s article as a freelance piece.

“Letting me publish it as a freelance piece and I didn’t even know that they nominated it for the competition,” she said. “So, it was a total shock to me when they sent me an email. ‘They were like, guess what? You won first place. I said, first place in what?”

“An essay that embraced the larger culture and served its readership better than some of the more pragmatic and practical pieces on this subject,” the judges wrote.

Maybe just the first line of the story. Skowronski wrote, “If it’s possible to fall in love with a horse, I fell in love with Man o’ War in the second grade. It was Sister Corinne’s fault.”

The entire story can be read here.

“And it was really the first paid freelance piece that I had written. I had written other news type press release type pieces at the magazine, but I’ve really never done a feature story, so I was actually kind of stunned and very honored that they had considered it worthy of nomination and it’s a story that means a lot to me, so that made it much more special,” Skowronski said.

Skowronski says she was notified of the award in June.

“They actually presented me with a plaque and certificate in late June at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association annual crab feast at the Timonium Fairgrounds,” she said.

Skowronski’s story, which explained Man o’ War’s importance as a racehorse and sire to the equine industry in the Mid-Atlantic, was written during the 100th anniversary of the horse’s birth year in 1917.

On March 29, 2017, Man o’ War’s 100th birthday, she organized a small tribute to “Big Red,” as the horse was known, by the clubhouse building of the old Havre de Grace Racetrack, where Man o’ War once raced. Attending were Mike Pons, of Bel Air’s Country Life Farm, whose grandfather, Adolpe Pons, was once a bloodstock agent for Man o’ War’s breeder, August Belmont, and former Harford County Executive and Havre de Grace Mayor David Craig, who has written about the old track.

An accomplished rider, Skowronski has covered Harford County’s two annual steeplechasing events, Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point and My Lady’s Manor, for The Aegis and is one of the organizers of the Robert and Anne Heighe Excellence in Equine Journalism Award bestowed through the Hays-Heighe House Museum at Harford Community College.

John Scheinman, a Baltimore Sun Media Group editor and two-time Eclipse Award winning equine journalist, received a second place AHP award for his column, “Sundown at Pimlico,” which was also published by Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred.

“Lyrical, evocative lede sets up an unusual take on a post-Preakness story,” the judges wrote of the Scheinman piece. “The personal is mixed with the historical, and the sadness over the twilight of a fabled racetrack is felt in every sentence. Good flow from present to past to present again, and perhaps the future.”

Reach Randy McRoberts on twitter. @aegissports

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