Clancy Takes Eclipse for ‘Horse of A Lifetime’
Originally posted Jan. 6, 2015
Joe Clancy has won the 2014 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Enterprise category for “Horse of a Lifetime,” a news account of the 2014 Preakness Stakes won by California Chrome, which appeared in the July edition of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced the award on Jan. 6.
Clancy will receive his honor at the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 17, at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Eclipse Awards are presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group and produced by the NTRA.
This is the first Eclipse Award for Clancy, of Fair Hill, Md., the editor of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, and editor/publisher of thisishorseracing.com and The Saratoga Special with his brother, Sean Clancy, a 2009 Media Eclipse Award winner. During summers growing up, both sons worked for their father, Joe Clancy, Sr., who trained horses on the Mid-Atlantic and steeplechase circuits. Clancy also credits Philadelphia Daily News writers Bill Fleischman and the late Chuck Stone, who were also faculty at the University of Delaware, for influencing his career in journalism.
“It’s pretty overwhelming,” said Clancy about winning an Eclipse Award. “As a kid you always wanted to know who won them, and working in the barn you hoped a horse that you had would win one. To think that I won an award that Red Smith won, well, that’s in another world. And to have awards for media and horses honored in the same awards format, that’s a great thing.”
Clancy’s journalism career started as the sports editor at two small newspapers and then moved into racing with the start of Steeplechase Times in 1994. That was followed by the creation of The Saratoga Special daily paper in 2001. In addition, he has written about racing for numerous publications inside and outside the racing industry.
In “Horse of a Lifetime,” Clancy captured the wave of intense interest and popularity around Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and his 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman, entering the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown before the enormous crowd at Pimlico Race Course, and brings to light Sherman’s preparation of his colt for the Triple Crown.
Clancy credits Sherman for building the background to the story in the moments leading to the race.
“The NBC crew hustled ahead to get a shot of the horse, so Art was by himself and he was just soaking in the reaction to the crowd. To get his emotion at the time was wonderful. Art was very open as I walked with him alone up to the track. It was just the two of us right before going to the paddock. Before the race, he was just very genuine. Even though he (California Chrome) was favored, people were skeptical of him, but Art still had confidence in his horse. Art came from the perspective of ‘Don’t let this horse with first-time owners and unknown stallion fool you.’ I left there with the impression that he can train a horse.”
Excerpts from the winning entry underscore that point:
His trainer, quiet yet confident, talked up his horse late in the week at Pimlico.
‘Don’t underestimate this horse,’ he warned. The comment meant don’t let the humble roots, the California-bred label, the first-time Derby trainer and all the rest fool you. Sherman’s horse belonged, like any other Derby winner…
Clancy watched the Preakness itself among a group with Alan Sherman, Art’s son and assistant, on the outside rail by the winner’s circle. The moment was one of tension, then joy.
When the starting gate clanged open, Sherman stilled himself and watched – live as his horse galloped by the first time, on the partially obscured (by a Longines clock) infield big screen the rest of the way. At the top of the stretch, Sherman let loose. “Come on, Chrome. Come on, Chrome. Come on,” he urged as the horse cut the corner in front. Rodriguez barely spoke. Baltimore City Detention Center guard Lann, who joined the team for Preakness Week and spent 12-hour shifts with the Derby winner, was the emotional one, barking “He’s making his move, he’s making his move,” in Sherman’s right ear.
And then Sherman let it out. California Chrome hit the sixteenth pole and the man responsible for his everyday care leaned out a step too far and almost fell on the track as the one-railed metal gate swung open. Sherman pumped a fist, smiled, cried, watched, raised his arms high as if signaling a touchdown and nearly met his horse at the finish line as everyone tumbled out behind him. On the track, they were a scrum of suits, sundresses, hats, black-and-white security uniform, halter, lead shank and emotion.
“He does that, every race,” said Art Sherman of his son. “He ends up on the track. I guess he can’t hold it in anymore. What a moment.”
The entire winning entry can be accessed on the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred site: http://bit.ly/17gq0iy.
Honorable mention in the News Enterprise Category went to David Grening for “Durkin: The stories he has told,” about the retirement of the prolific track announcer Tom Durkin in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which appeared on the Daily Racing Form web site on August 28, 2014, and to 2012 Media Eclipse Award winner Ryan Goldberg for “Secret To Success: a Derby Win and Racing’s Doping Addiction” which appeared on propublica.com, about mysterious circumstances surrounding the 1964 Kentucky Derby. Judges for the News/Enterprise category were Rob Longley or the Toronto Sun; Richard Rosenblatt, sports writer for The Associated Press, and David Papadopoulos, a managing editor at Bloomberg News.