The morning was winding down, Joe Clancy finished his work for the Preakness Stakes pool reporting team and thought about hitting the exit at Pimlico Race Course to make the trek back home to northeast Maryland.
He spotted Kenny McPeek hosing Swiss Skydiver’s legs and put his hour or so drive on hold.
“I was kicking around the Pimlico barn area the day before the Preakness, taking notes, talking to people,” Joe said. “The place felt empty, a little strange due to the Covid restrictions on attendance and media access. It was October, not May.”
Seeing McPeek brought back memories of doing the same work growing up in his father’s barn, and kickstarted what would become Joe’s third David F. Woods Memorial Award for the best story about the Preakness Stakes in 2020. Joe’s story, “Force of the Filly,” published in the November 2020 edition of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, joins his prior Woods winners in 2015 and 2017.
“I wandered over, said hello, fed the filly a mint or two and Kenny and I talked horses for a while,” Joe said. “It was amazing. I remember walking away hoping she would win so I could write about it. She had to come through on the track and did she ever. The battle with Authentic was just what the 2020 Preakness needed and it was an honor to tell her story.”
Swiss Skydiver fended off eventual Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male Authentic for the Preakness win, run in front of a near empty Pimlico grandstand and clubhouse because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As always, there are thank yous to deliver.
The David F. Woods Memorial Award was initiated in 1982 to honor the memory the longtime racetrack publicist and Evening Sun columnist.
Sean Clancy, Joe’s brother and also the co-owner and co-founder of ST Publishing Inc., is a four-time winner of the Woods in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2014. Tom Law, managing editor of ST Publishing, won the Woods Award for his coverage of 2017 winner Cloud Computing in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, giving the Maryland-based monthly publication eight wins in the last 18 years and five in the last seen.
Joe Clancy is the owner, publisher, editor and writer for ST Publishing Inc., parent company of thisishorseracing.com and The Saratoga Special and editor of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, a monthly magazine published by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. In 2014 he won an Eclipse Award for excellence in writing. Joe Clancy, who lives in Fair Hill, will be recognized Friday at Pimlico.
Patrick Smith of Getty Images will also be recognized Friday for winning the Jerry Frutkoff Photographer Award for his photo of Swiss Skydiver and Authentic coming down the stretch of the 145th Preakness. The image was published by Getty Oct. 3, 2020.