OWNER: Just like Hansel Allbritton takes win easily and in stride

May 19, 1991|By Mark Hyman

Only 45 minutes earlier, Hansel, his bay colt, had won the Preakness impressively, going away.

That, it turned out, was time aplenty for Joe L. Allbritton not only to savor the moment, but also to rate his first victory in a Triple Crown race among other thrills of a lifetime.

He smiled. Then he placed it squarely in the top three.

"The last great experience in my life was the birth of my son, and before that, when I was married, though not necessarily in that order, said Allbritton, who smiled at his own small joke.

Grinning came easily last night for Allbritton, as close to a local owner as there was in the Preakness this year.

Allbritton lives part time in Houston, but considers Washington his home. He is a wealthy investor whose fortune hasd been built in banking, insurance and communications. If the name is familiar, this may be the reason -- Allbritton was one of the last owners of the defunct Wahington Star.

Allbritton, 66, came to the horse business relatively late in life. He began racing and breeding about 14 years ago. Now, he owns Lazy Lane Farm, a tidy 1,700 acres in Upperville, Va.

Allbritton apparently has learned much about the value of patience in that time. Two weeks ago, Hansel finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby after entering the race as the favorite.

Allbritton confessed to disappointment with that showing, but not to doubt about his horse.

"No, there were no doubts about Hansel, although there were doubts about me,: said Allbritton, smiling.

Referring to the different outcome here, Allbritton, who spent $150,000 for the horse at the Keeneland fall yearling sale, said: "Redemption was not an issue. In the horse business, there are many more lows than highs. If you see every loss as (failure), there would be a lot of time spent on redemption."

Those comments seemed to sum up Allbritton's tone and emotional pitch in the moments after the race -- pleased, but composed. He looked more like a man who'd just been to the symphony than one who was coming down from the high of a Preakness victory. His red tie was knotted tightly. His pinstriped shirt was neatly creased. The red handkerchief flowed just so from his breast pocket.

There were moments -- granted, a few -- when Allbritton's excitement shone through.

For instance, he said, "This is great, my first real, real classic (victory)."

Later, he spoke of his son, Robert, 22, a student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

Robert Allbritton was not at his father's side yesterday when Hansel romped home to victory. Instead, he was taking exams.

Joe Allbritton appeared slightly disappointed by that. According to one report, Robert was crushed.

Joe Allbritton recounted a telphone conversation he had with his son before the race.

Allbritton smiled and said of Robert, "He told me, 'Dad, I'd sure rather be there than taking finals.'"

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