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The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association announced that ST Publishing’s Sean Clancy has won the 2009 Media Eclipse Award for Writing in the News/Commentary category for “Life’s Work,” a column about an estate sale of the late Hall of Fame Trainer Sidney Watters, Jr., in 2008. The entry appeared in the January 3, 2009 edition of The Blood-Horse.

Here’s how it went (Sean’s version).

Jay Williamson called about an auction. Steve Dance bought an ad for the auction. Joe and I went to the auction. Josh Pons convinced me to write about the auction. I wrote it.

That was the (abridged) road to the 2009 Eclipse Award.

Williamson called about an upcoming auction of Sidney Watters’ estate, told me to call Steve Dance about an ad for Steeplechase Times. Dance’s auction company was holding the auction and bought an ad in the final 2008 edition of Steeplechase Times. Joe and I decided we should go to the auction to thank Dance and poke around, with no intention of writing anything about it. I didn’t even have a notebook. We left Watters’ farm in Monkton with some treasures (pair of binoculars, a quarter sheet, a couple of books, a plaque from Detroit Racecourse) and a sickening sense of mortality.

The auction was brutal; watching a man’s life sold off in a matter of hours.

A couple of days later, Josh Pons stopped me in Michael’s Restaurant, across the street from the Timonium Salesgrounds, feeling the same way, and asked me if I was going to write about the auction.

“No, I don’t have anywhere to write it,” I said.

“You’ve still got to write it,” he said.

So, I went home and wrote about it.

When it was finished, I submitted it as a Final Turn to the Blood-Horse, the most logical spot for an at-large column about racing and/or life, considering we didn’t have another Steeplechase Times until March.

A year later, it’s an Eclipse Award winner.

I’m humbled. Thrilled. Elated. Thankful.

Joe and I have each been awarded honorable mentions for Eclipse Awards in the past and I’ve been close to Eclipse Award winners as a jockey (Flat Top before he was champion) and as an owner (Good Night Shirt before he was champion) but it’s always eluded me.

To read the entire column, CLICK HERE.

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 writer.

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 website on Nov. 16, 2009.

The Eclipse Awards are presented by the NTRA, National Turf Writers Association (NTWA) 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, January 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. For hotel accommodations and Eclipse Awards ceremony reservations, contact Michele Ravencraft at the NTRA's Lexington office, (800) 792-6872, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horse racing interests consisting of leading thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and in New York. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA web site,