I have such pleasant memories of the time I covered the Preakness Stakes thoroughbred horse race at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, in May 1981 – as well as other Triple Crown races.
But the Preakness stands out because an El Paso horse, Bold Ego, finished second (behind Pleasant Colony) and resulted in a handsome reward for its owners from the Double B Ranch.
Besides that, it was the tail end of an era of “free love” and what went on in the Preakness infield was eye catching, to say the least.
Other memories of the Preakness:
Being a shorter distance than the other Triple Crown races, Bold Ego actually took the lead into the stretch run. I had a $15 bet on him across the board and I got excited. I was watching the race from a little porch in the press box and I got so excited I nearly fell off the porch. But Bold Ego got caught at the wire and finished second. The jockey was John Lively and the trainer was Jack Van Berg.
The big, dark brown colt was bred in New Mexico by J. D. Barton and his mother, Margaret Barton, both of El Paso.
There was a party for the press before the big race. I had taken one of my three sons, David, to the Preakness. I thought it would be fun for him since he had worked for both The El Paso Herald-Post and Sunland Park Racetrack.
David was tall and so handsome women would swoon at the sight of him. He was in his early 20s. At the party he went to see participants dance in another section of the room. The only pretty, young lady at the dance, a blonde, came over and asked him if he wanted to dance. I had kept an eye on my son. I watched him dance. But soon, he disappeared with the young lady. He came staggering into the room I had rented at 5 a.m. I didn’t ask any questions.
Bold Ego finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby, held two weeks earlier, but he had shown promise as a front runner. So the owners decided to enter Bold Ego in the Belmont Stakes, the last of the Triple Crown races. But the previous races had taken its toll. The race was longer, at a mile and a half. He finished dead last.
I’ll always be thankful to Harry Moskos, who was appointed editor of The El Paso Herald-Post in 1980. He was loud and didn’t mind telling reporters what was on his mind. One day he called me into his office and notified me that my sports column was the most popular item in the El Paso Herald-Post, second only to Dear Abbey, and he was appointing me as sports editor.
Bob Ingram, who couldn’t stand Moskos, had abruptly retired at the age of 75 as sports editor of the paper. One day, when I was supposed to put out the sports section, I found a note on my desk that he was retiring (I’m sure his sports column was more popular than mine). I tried to follow in his footsteps, but it was a big order. I hope I succeeded.
Veteran sports journalist, historian and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column, which periodically runs in El Paso Inc.’s B-Section. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at raysanchezbooks.com.