The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association today announced that Sean Clancy, veteran racing journalist in the Middle Atlantic region, has won the 2009 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Commentary category for his column “Life’s Work,” about the gamut of emotions he felt while attending an estate sale of the late Hall of Fame Trainer Sidney Watters Jr., in 2008.
The entry appeared in the Final Turn section of the Jan. 3, 2009 edition of The Blood-Horse magazine and the full story can be read here.
“It’s a real thrill for anyone in the business to win an Eclipse Award,” said Clancy, born in Wilmington, Del., and currently residing in Middleburg, Va. “It’s the pinnacle to win one, whether it’s as a jockey or a trainer or for writing. It’s always out there, and you’re always chasing after it.
“Sidney Watters was an amazing horseman and gentleman, who represented a different era as a sportsman. My mentors, and people I respected like Leo O’Brien and Dickie Small, always talked about him and his legacy. He trained champions on the flat and over jumps, which is pretty special. I feel like I’m always trying to bridge that same gap.”
After attending the estate sale, Clancy ran into fellow writer Josh Pons at a local Timonium, Md., restaurant. Pons strongly encouraged Clancy to write a column about his experiences, “more or less for the therapy,” Clancy recalls. “There were piles of things there, from halters to trophies to winner’s circle photos.”
From Life’s Work: “My brother and I went to his estate auction at his farm in Monkton, Md., Dec. 5. We went because we sold an ad to Steve Dance’s Auction Company, because we felt some odd loyalty, because anybody who trains a champion on the flat and over jumps is our kind of man, and simply for curiosity’s sake.
We haven’t been the same since.
There was his life’s work—in piles on temporary card tables in a rented tent, on the flatbed of a wagon, strewn on the ground. The valuable stuff arranged in trophy cases, the rest in cardboard boxes or just spread out like a clothesline gone awry. A man’s life, selling by the pound.”
This is the first Media Eclipse Award for Clancy, who is co-publisher of Steeplechase Times and The Saratoga Special. Clancy was also a steeplechase jockey from 1988-2000, and was a Champion Steeplechase jockey in 1998.
Honorable mention in the Writing - News/Commentary category went to four-time Media Eclipse Award winner Jay Hovdey, for his column “No Choice but to Rise to the Top” about the passing of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, which appeared on the Daily Racing Form Web site on Nov. 16, 2009.
The panel of judges for the Writing – News/Commentary category was comprised of Reid Cherner, USA Today; Ed Schuyler, former Associated Press racing writer and Paul Moran, former Newsday racing columnist.
The Eclipse Awards are presented by the NTRA, National Turf Writers Association, and Daily Racing Form. Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements in North America have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
The 39th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held on Monday, Jan. 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.