When the late Eugene V. Klein, owner of the San Diego Chargers football team, named a bay colt Tank's Prospect, it was a tribute to Paul "Tank" Younger, one of the ablest fullbacks in the history of the Los Angeles Rams. At the time, Younger was working for the Chargers, in charge of making personnel decisions.
"You hear the reason more colts and fillies aren't named for people is some kind of jinx is thought to be involved," he said. "They don't fare too well. But this one was exceptional."
On Preakness Day 1985, Klein and his wife were in the company of Baltimore friends Sig and Mary Hyman. Bedlam erupted when Tank's Prospect came on to overtake Chief's Crown and win by a head, setting a track record of 1:53 2/5.
But Tank Younger wasn't a part of the crowd. And for good reason, the Rams scout/consultant recalled recently. His daughter graduated the night before from Morehouse University School of Medicine in Atlanta. To show his elation, Tank gave his daughter and wife a vacation in Paris.
"They were leaving from where the foreign flights depart at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta," he said. "I took them there. It was around 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon. I headed back to the domestic area and the Delta Terminal. I went in the Crown Room and politely asked the men and women watching television if they'd mind turning to the Preakness. It was close to post time."
Tank settled in a chair to watch the other Tank in Baltimore, where in years gone by the athlete had played some memorable football games. Under jockey Pat Day, Tank's Prospect saved ground into the backstretch then, in a controlled way, asserted himself. In eighth place at the quarter, seventh at the half, sixth at the three-quarter mark, third at the turn for home, he was then close enough to challenge the favored Chief's Crown, who had assumed the lead.
The Tank in Atlanta was urging the Tank in Baltimore to go for it. Seconds later he was hollering, "My horse won the Preakness . . . my horse won the Preakness."