Everybody, it is presumed, knows by now that the Preakness was won by the big horse, Pleasant Colony at those stingy 3-to-2 odds that said he was supposed to win it. This is not about Pleasant Colony. This is about a little fellow, a despised colt viewed interloper in Preakness company, the one they call Paristo.
The record Preakness crowd that came to wager sent Paristo off as 74 to 1. It was a clear statement that this colt had little business tippy-toeing onto a racetrack for this kind of contest against such fancy Preakness steeds. Simply put, 74 to 1 said that Paristo didn't belong.
Paristo belonged. When it was all over, his number was up there on the tote board, showing that he had finished third in the Preakness, and a very solid third at that because he was beaten only three lengths for the whole caboodle, and after him the next finisher in a field of 14 was five lengths behind.
Where did Paristo come from to make a finish like that? How far was he behind when they hit the stretch. Or did he fold in the late going? Forget those kinds of questions. Paristo didn't come from anywhere. He didn't fold at any time. He was in solid contention from the moment they opened the gates, was third after the first quarter-mile and never worse than that for the rest of the contest.
So let's hear some more about Paristo, the Preakness' only supplentary entry. His owner is robert L. Feinberg, of the Weston, Mass., Feinbergs, and it is fascinating to know that of all the 84,113 who came to Pimlico today, Mr. Feinberg had the most costly ticket of admission. His seat cost him $12,000.
For his decision to run Paristo in the Preakness, it cost Feinberg $10,000 more than the fee of any other owner in the race. This was the supplemental fee he had to pay for neglecting to nominate his colt in the first place. Entry and starting fees were $2,000 more. It proved to be one of the most satisfactory investments of Feinberg, who has wide business interests, including ownership of the Zayre stores.
At lunch in the clubhouse today, Feinberg said of Paristo, "We won't finish last." He has the appearance of a modest chap, anyway. As for the $10,000 supplementary-fee gamble, he said simply, "This has been a good colt . . . We wanted the Preakness in his record."
a good colt was Paristo, but hardly spectacular. Truth to tell, he had won only three of his 17 races before today. "But when he won the Illinois Derby last month," said Feinberg, "George Handy (his trainer) said, 'I think we'ved got a Preakness colt. He's come fast overnight.' "
Also Feinberg said, "We owed paristo something. He's been an honest one. We paid $105,000 for him at the Keeneland sales -- he's out of Buckpasser you know -- and he's brought us back $146,000 in purses. He deserved the shot we're giving him in the Preakness." In the Illinois Derby, Feinberg said the public didn't think Paristo had much of a shot, referring to the 8-to-1 odds at which he went off. "But we know this horse has character. I saw a picture of Buckpasser last week, and this colt looks just like his dad. That's awfully nice to know."
Also, Feinberg said, "For me, it is a thrill to have a Preakness starter. We're a small operation, you know. we've been in racing for 25 years but we never had more than two or three horses at the same time. That's how we like it." There are close ties in the Belmont Stable, the nom de course that Feinberg uses. His trainer, Handy, has been with him all of the 25 years since he has raced.
There's an evident loyalty factor pervading their whole operation. They might have contracted for a more famous rider than David Ashcroft, the Mexican lad with the English-sounding name who was in the nation's No. 2 apprentice last year. "But David knows this horse. He's ridden him the last four times and he put up a great ride in the Illinois Derby," Feinberg said.
Handy said: "In this race today, Paristo figures to go to the rail and run like hell. That's how he won the Illinois Derby, after lagging for the first half-mile."
That's what Paristo did today, get close to the rail, but wasn't lagging. Oddly, he was up there, challenging for the lead from the break out of the gate, this 74-to-1 shot whose usual tactic was to come from behind. He was up there with Bold Ego, the speed in the race who was on top most of the way, and with Thirty Eight Paces, a known sprinter. After three quarters, he was only a length and a half back. So when would Paristo quit? The answer was he never did. Even when they were tying the 106-year-old Preakness record for the fastest last three-sixteenths of a mile. And he was returning $20,000 third-place money to offset that $10,000 supplemental fee. a 74-to-one shot was showing character.