John Ed Anthony was reminded of a movie yesterday when he became the first owner in 45 years to repeat as Preakness champion.
"I'm fond of something I saw in a movie one time. [There was] the old Indian in 'Little Big Man.' He laid down to ask the gods to take him to heaven and it didn't happen, so he got up and he says, 'Well, sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't,' " he said.
The magic worked yesterday, as Prairie Bayou followed in Pine Bluff's footsteps and won the Preakness for Loblolly Stable. The feat was last done by Calumet Farm in 1947-48.
Even though his horse was favored, Anthony didn't take it for granted. His horses were favored in the sixth and seventh races and finished sixth and fourth.
"Being the favorite doesn't always turn out to work," he said.
He added: "To win the Preakness is a goal every owner in America and the world probably has. To win it twice in a row is a bit overwhelming. I've been thinking of the years when we struggled to get here."
How did it compare to winning it last year?
"It measures up. You get kind of numb whenever you're in an experience like this. There's a lot of disappointment in owning horses and racing horses and when you get in the Preakness [and] you find yourself being one of the favored horses and then you win it. . . . Winning it twice, goodness, I'll be proud of that for as long as I live, but we're going to try to win it three times," he said.
How did he plan to celebrate?
"We'll walk back over to the barn and shake each other's hand and pat each other on the back and tell a few lies and drink a few beers," he said.
Anthony said it more than made up for finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.
"Louisville was in the past and today's today and it feels great today.I certainly wish we could have gotten the job done at Louisville and we'll keep trying. It [Kentucky Derby] is a great race also, and I want to savor this one right now and not have any regrets."
Anthony, who lives in Hot Springs, Ark., is co-owner of Loblolly Stable with his ex-wife, Mary Lynn Dudley, who didn't attend the race.
His family settled in southern Arkansas in the 1830s and has operated lumber mills and farms. He names his horses for the creeks, valleys, bluffs, ridges, settlements, hills, crossroads, trails and swamps of Arkansas.
Despite his Arkansas roots, he ducked questions for the second straight year about President Clinton, saying: "This is a racing event. This is not a political event."
But he said the president's mother, Virginia Kelley, who's a horse racing fan, is a "great fan and a good friend."
"She certainly follows the Arkansas horses when they move out to compete on the national scene. She's a big supporter back home," he said.
Anthony does not own a horse farm except for a 40-acre spread in Arkansas. He keeps a broodmare band of about 45 boarded at Claiborne Farms near Paris, Ky., and at Longfield Farm in Goshen, Ky.
"We live in Arkansas, and Kentucky farms are expensive. I kind of always thought it might be good money management to take the money I'd use to buy a farm and let the other man charge me a day rate and maybe I can buy more horses. I think owning a farm is as different from racing as probably running lumber mills is different from racing. There are fences to paint and roofs to repair. I'm never had any desire to own a farm," he said.
Prairie Bayou was gelded because he was getting heavy in the shoulders and neck. He wasn't supposed to have great potential.
"This colt was not one that would jump out at you and say, 'I'm the champion,' as occasionally you see," he said.
He's a champion now, though.
Anthony said: "It's pretty much like people. Whenever the going gets tough, there are those who'll stand in there and slug it out, and there are those that fold up and fall to the wayside. This is a stand-up horse."
0 Owners who have won consecutive Preaknesses:
George L. Lorillard
1878 .. .. Duke of Magenta
1879 .. .. Harold
1880 .. .. Grenada
1881 .. .. Saunterer
1882 .. .. Vanguard
# Harry Payne Whitney
1927 .. .. Bostonian
1928 .. .. Victorian
1947 .. .. Faultless
1948 .. .. Citation
1992 .. .. Pine Bluff
1993 .. .. Prairie Bayou