University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Brothers overcome hurdles with steeplechase paper

     From a cluttered "news room" strewn with children's toys in
the basement of Joe Clancy Jr.'s Newark, Del., home, The
Steeplechase Times emerges every two weeks during the racing
     A labor of love for editor Clancy, Delaware '87, and his
younger brother, Sean, Delaware '92, a professional steeplechase
jockey and the paper's only staff writer, the Times is a logical
extension of the family business.
     Their dad, Joe Sr., is an independent trainer who also helps
distribute the paper in the horse country around Unionville, Pa.
Other family members, including their mom, Ruth Waggaman Clancy,
Delaware '59; sister Sheila, Delaware '90; and Joe's wife, Sam,
Delaware '87, also contribute to the two-year-old effort.
     "There's nothing like it," Joe Clancy says of publishing his
own newspaper. "I know all of the headaches, but they're my
headaches and my brother's headaches, and I'd rather have them
than do it for somebody else. Now, we're getting to combine the
two things that we love to do."
     For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, a steeplechase
race involves two to 12 horses that jump a series of fences to
win. The National Steeplechase Association, which is based in
Elkton, Md., sponsors 40 race-meets a year from March through
     The idea of pairing racing and writing originated with Sean,
who juggled a career as a full-time jockey while studying history
at Delaware. He thought that steeplechase racing needed an outlet
to publicize its news and colorful personalities, and he also
wanted to broaden his own skills for the day when he would no
longer ride professionally.
     "Riding is great and you can support yourself doing it,"
says Sean, who finished second in the 1994 national standings.
"The problem is, when it's over, it's over. A lot of jockeys go
into training, but I didn't think I wanted to do that."
     Joe, who works full-time as director of communications for
the National Steeplechase Association, also wanted to be a
jockey-until he grew to his adult height.
     "All I wanted was to be a jockey, but I'm 6 foot 2 inches,
so that didn't work," Joe says. "I exercised horses, shoveled a
lot of manure and got to where I was an assistant trainer to my
dad. I always thought I'd write about horse racing for Sports
Illustrated, but I got a little more realistic as I got older."
     Joe did gain experience as a sports editor for the Cecil
Whig in Elkton, and as a reporter for The Whale in Lewes, Del.
Once the idea for their speciality publication was born, he
started working out the logistics of whether the brothers could
make it work.
     They made the big decision during a Philadelphia Flyers game
in 1994.
     "I said we would have to come up with 20 advertisers before
we could decide to do it," Joe recalls. "We came up with the 20
during the third period."
     Now in the third publication season, the number of
tops 150 and includes automobile dealerships, horse supply
companies, banks and horse owners' "thank you" ads. Each tabloid-
sized issue is usually about 20 pages, and the paper features
color photos on the front and back covers.
     "We always said if we went to a bank, they wouldn't have
financed it," Joe says. "We didn't do a business plan, which hurt
us, because we didn't know what to expect."
     While advertising pays the bills, the brothers still must
put out the paper themselves every two weeks-a hectic process
that hearkens back to the time of college all-nighters. Joe and
Sean write the bulk of the articles, and each brother also
contributes a column every other issue.
     "Every other Tuesday, we have a marathon day, where we don't
get much sleep," Joe says.
     "We complement each other just about perfectly," Sean says.
"He knows much more of the newspaper side, and I know much more
about the everyday workings of racing. He'll panic about some
things I don't think are a concern, and I panic about other
things and he'll say, 'No problem.'"
     Within the close-knit circles of steeplechase racing, the
paper has attracted a loyal following, and its popularity helped
Joe land his current job with the national association.
     "It's a small sport, but people really care about it," Joe
says. "After the paper was such a big hit, the association came
to me and offered me the job."
     But, the success of The Steeplechase Times is also due to
the hard work of those other members of the Clancy family.
Sheila, a mortgage bank officer in Chantilly, Va., writes a
column in every issue called, "The Lighter Side." Sam, a juvenile
probation officer, helps out in their home-office, and Ruth, a
real estate agent, develops leads for advertisers. Another member
of The Steeplechase Times "family" is graphic designer Barbara
Tidman, a part-time art student at Delaware whose husband, Paul,
is an assistant professor in the philosophy department.
     "It's a lot of work at times," Sean says, "but the rewarding
part is to bring it to the races and see the people flock to it.
They love it, which is great."
                                -Robert DiGiacomo, Delaware '88