By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
For Barry Fey, it could be a new lease on life. "When I used to do the Stones or the Who and make 50,000 or 60,000 people deliriously happy, that was important. I believe I changed the environment here, affected the state. This horse is a selfish thing. And I have nothing to do with it. I didn't find the horse. I barely know a cracked cannon bone from a bowed tendon. But it's the single most important thing. I mean, I got Neil Diamond coming up on New Year's in Vegas, but all I can think about is the Breeders' Cup...What have I got left to do? What kicks? I'm not a kicks kind of guy--I don't drink or take drugs. But look how great this could be. If he wins at Churchill, they say he'll be the Eclipse Award winning sprinter. And barring injury, he could race the next five, six, seven years and be a huge horse. Where am I gonna buy that?"
At the bargain price he paid, nowhere on earth.
Some thoroughbred owners pour millions into their horses and never come up with a decent allowance winner. Since 1992, Fey has owned parts--a mane here, a tail there--of five horses. Four of them--Free at Last, Star of Valor, Demaloot Demashoot and Reraise--became stakes winners. The speedy Demashoot even ran in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Sprint, finishing a respectable fifth behind Cardmania.
Clearly, the man doesn't know how lucky he is. "If you put a hundred thousand into a horse, you expect to do well," he says. "But it never happens--I know that. It happens to so few. We beat the pants off a D. Wayne Lukas horse [Historic] that cost a million and a half--as a yearling! But I don't feel that lucky, because I'm not in that business. I don't know the odds. In the music business I knew how lucky I was--because I knew how tough it was."
Because he's a broker who makes his living from transactions, Sternberg tried to convince Fey to sell Reraise at a huge profit. No dice. "Barry loves the thrill, he loves the excitement," Sternberg says. "He's sitting on a potential champion with a comparatively small amount of money invested, and that's very rare and very lucky. Only 15 percent of thoroughbred owners make money each year."
Come November 7, don't expect Barry Fey to be hanging out with them--the rich guys wearing $1,000 suits, who can afford to dabble in the Sport of Kings, and their sleek, lion-maned women. "I'm a horseplayer who happens to own a real fast horse," he says. "I'm never going to be with the Bob and Beverly Lewises [owners of Derby winner Silver Charm] or the Phippses, because we have nothing in common. What am I going to say to Ogden Phipps? 'Hey, Ogden, what's up, man?' And the racing-society parties don't interest me. I don't wanna go to parties. Forget about it. I've been to the best parties. I've been to the Who party in Houston when everybody took their clothes off, in '73. The Stones were here for a luau, outside my house, out there on the patio. I've been to parties."
But he hasn't been to the Breeders' Cup winner's circle, and that's where he means to be November 7 at Churchill Downs, wearing his lucky Keith Richards T-shirt, his purple silk jacket and, quite possibly, long pants. "That's all I can think about," he says. "Before the race, I'll get very nervous and start snapping at people. Tell you, I'm gonna take at least a half, maybe a whole Xanax that day. Forget about it. I'm not the most pleasant person in history anyway. I don't need it, but it won't hurt. The Xanax isn't for me--it's for everybody around me."
He also imagines a time when he won't need a mood-stabilizer on race day. "I don't know a thing about the horse business," he says, "but it could be a stepping stone or a doorway into a new life. The music business kept me young, but that's over. All I've got is the past. No future. Watch the Breeders' Cup and Kentucky Derby and you see the owners--a lot of octogenarians and people in their nineties, preserved by good sun and fresh air. This is the way to age gracefully. Maybe when I'm 85, God willing, and this cancer thing doesn't get me, I'll be standing out there in the paddock with my walker."
For now, though, the parrot is still screeching at the dog. Leslie can't find the wallet-sizes, and while a tough field of fourteen or so world-class sprinters looms up a week from Saturday in Kentucky, Barry Fey feels the need to watch Let It Ride again. He's also convinced the dog that he's Reraise's little brother. In other words, there are no distractions. "I wanna win this thing," he says, uncharacteristically quiet now. "And I'll be happy to take all the praise. Even though I have nothing to do with it.