As travelers along the Triple Crown trail are beginning to realize, this Arthur Hancock III from Paris, Ky. -- half owner of Preakness and Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence -- is not your typical blue-grass, hard-boot race horse owner type.
Really now, when was the last time you saw -- as witnesses in the Pimlico Race Course press box did late Saturday afternoon -- a 46-year-old man stand up at a podium and sing an Aretha Franklin song?
(Copyright 1989 by Triangle Publications., Inc. -- The Daily Racing Form)
The 114th Preakness Stakes, 9th race at Pimlico, May 20, 1989. 1 3-16 miles. $500,000-added. 3-year-olds. Scale weight (126 pounds). 381 nominations. Value of race $674,200. Value to winner $438,230. Second $134,840. Third $67,420. Fourth $33,710. Mutuel pool $1,491,333.
Horse PP 1/4 mile 1/2 mile 3/4 milestretchfinishjockey $odds
Sunday Silence 7 4-1hf3-1 3-1hf 1-hd 1-no PValenzuela 2.10
Easy Goer 2 5-hf 5-hf 1-hd 2-4 2-5 PDay 0.60
Rock Point 4 7-4 7-6 5-1 3-hd 3-2 CAntley 22.80
Dansil 5 6-1hf6-1hf4-1hf 4-4hf 4-3 LSnyder 28.30
Hawkster 1 8 8 8 6-12 5-1hfMCastaneda 53.60
Houston 6 2-1hf1-2hf2-2 5-hd 6-26 ACordero 5.40
Pulverizing 3 3-hd 4-hf 7-hf 8 7-1 AStacey 70.00
Northern Wolf 8 1-hd 2-hf 6-4 7-7 8 JLadner 33.70
Winner -- Dark bay or brown colt by Halo and Wishing Well, by Understanding. Trainer -- Charles Whittingham. Bred by -- Oak Cliff-Thoroughbreds Ltd. (Ky.).
Off -- 5:35. Start Good. Won Driving.
Time -- 23 2-5, 46 2-5, 1:09 3-5, 1:34 1-5, 1:53 4-5. Track Fast.
MUTUELS (OTB payoffs in parentheses)
8-Sunday Silence $6.20 ($8.00)3.00 ($3.40)3.20 ($2.40)
2-Easy Goer 2.40 ($2.20)2.40 ($2.20)
5-Rock Point 3.60 ($2.40)
Well, maybe "sing" isn't exactly the correct term. Hancock, as he demonstrated on nationwide TV, is also into poetry.
In case you didn't quite get all the words, the poem he recited in the winner's circle was written by William Cullen Bryant and titled, "The Battlefield." Hancock thinks it has a lot to do with the budding rivalry -- both on the track and in the papers -- between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer.
"I just thought about it walking out there, really. It just hit me, you know," Hancock said about the verse that goes:
"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.
"The eternal years of God are Hers,
"While error wounded writes in pain,
and dies among his worshippers."
How's that again, Mr. Hancock?
"I think the error is the perception that this horse (Sunday Silence) is maybe just a mediocre horse, and that the sloppy track at the Derby made it a moot race and so forth," he lectured to the assembled scribes.
"You know, he's like your son or your dog. Your horse, you're proud of him. He deserves respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me."
The problem, as Hancock saw it, was that too many sports writers -- not to mention too many of the bettors -- saw the Kentucky Derby not as Sunday Silence's heroic win by 2 1/2 lengths, but as Easy Goer's tragic loss on a muddy race track he didn't like.
"I'd like to ask you all a question or two now," Hancock told a gaggle of microphone holders and note-takers, several of whom wondered what stable this Bryant guy rides for.
"Was it a little bit too dry today? Was the track a little bit too moist? Was it a little bit too hot or too windy?" asked Hancock, who apparently noticed that in Saturday's Baltimore Sun, Sunday Silence was the top selection of only 12 of 60 alleged media experts.
"I hope you'll say this is a really good horse, because he deserves it," Hancock continued, his smile barely hiding a simmering friction that even the $438,230 Preakness purse money and a shot at the $5 million Triple Crown bonus couldn't lubricate.
Hancock seemed upset that more of the public's money wasn't bet on Sunday Silence.
He was irked that even though Sunday Silence had won the Kentucky confrontation, the public still made Easy Goer the 3-5 Preakness favorite while sending Sunday Silence off at slightly over 2-1.
"I'm proud of our horse and I want him to have the respect he deserves. I thought we'd be 9-5 and maybe Easy Goer would be 6-5 or something like that," he said.
"I hope in the Belmont, Easy Goer's favored there, too. I think a lot more people will pay attention to him now."
Ah yes, the Belmont. Already Sunday Silence and Easy Goer are being spoken of in the same reverential tones as Affirmed-Alydar, Swaps-Nashua and War Admiral-Seabiscuit. And nobody who witnessed Saturday's battle down the Pimlico stretch will make any other plans for the afternoon of June 10.
"If our horse stays healthy and everything goes right at the Belmont, I don't see how he (Easy Goer) can beat us, I really don't," said jockey Pat Valenzuela. "He's a very good race horse. He can run. He can just flat out run."
Valenzuela described how his mount performed when Easy Goer passed him on the far turn.
"Easy Goer got by me by about a head at about the eighth pole, and my horse just came back and got him," he said. "My horse is just that kind of a horse. He saw that horse get a head in front of him and he just came back and gave it all he had.
"I knew Pat (Day, on Easy Goer) was going to try to crowd me a bit if he was on the outside. I knew he was going to make a move somewhere, but I just didn't think he'd make it that quick. He made a quick move to me. (But) I knew I had plenty of horse and there was a whole 3 1/2 furlongs left to run. And I knew when my horse kicks it in, he really kicks it in. So I wasn't really worried."
Valenzuela continued along a familiar line.
"I think it finally rests the fact that they're saying Easy Goer's a better horse than Sunday Silence. I have never thought he was, and I said from the very first time anybody asked me about Easy Goer that Easy Goer is overrated. I knew we had a good horse . . . I just didn't know how good Easy Goer was. Today, I think we proved we have the better horse. It was a horse race, long to remember."
THE PREAKNESS STAKES