Arazi, co-owner share life in the fast lane Pilot/inventor Paulson knows meaning of speed

April 28, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

VERSAILLES, Ky. -- Allen Paulson and his super-colt Arazi have a similar trait -- speed.

Paulson, whose company, Gulfstream Aerospace, is the premier manufacturer of corporate jets in the world, has flown around the globe in one his planes in 36 hours, 8 minutes.

"It's a record [set in 1988] and no one has tried to top it," Paulson said. "Our jets go the fastest and the farthest."

Which is what Arazi has done in eight of nine career starts and is expected to do Saturday in the 118th Kentucky Derby.

If not, he said, "I'm thinking of how I'm going to crawl out of there [Churchill Downs]."

Paulson, who just turned 70, spends his life in the fast lane, still piloting his jets all over the world, commuting between manufacturing plants in Georgia and California; between his Brookside Farm in Kentucky and a training center, Brookside West, in California, and homes in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, and Savannah, Ga.

But it hasn't always been that way.

Paulson grew up a child of the Depression.

His family lost their farm in Clinton, Iowa, and his parents divorced when he was still young. "We had just a little 40-acre farm, with corn, a few pigs, a few cows, and I remember pulling a lot of weeds," he said.

Paulson struck out on his own at age 13. "I swept floors and cleaned rooms in a little hotel in Clinton for my board and keep. But I still went to school," he said.

At 15, he migrated west, getting a job on a large dairy farm in northern California, milking cows.

"When I graduated from high school, I got a job as an apprentice mechanic for TWA for 30 cents an hour," Paulson said. "I have always been mechanically inclined and hold a lot of patents in the airline industry."

He also went to flight training school, became a crack pilot who can fly anything from a jet to a helicopter, and, on the side, started his own company manufacturing airplane parts.

The company grew and grew, Paulson said, until 15 years ago, when he went public with it. "I owned 100 percent of the stock myself, so I ended up with a fair amount of cash," he said.

Paulson had always admired horses and decided just 10 years ago to enter the sport in a big way. In 1984, he acquired a 1,600-acre cattle farm near Versailles, about 15 miles from Lexington, and hired well-known Kentucky farm manager Ted Carr "to bulldoze everything and build a new farm from scratch," Paulson said.

L Brookside is a far cry from that little family farm in Iowa.

It now encompasses over 2,000 acres, most of it pastureland surrounded by 60 miles of black-board fencing. There are 23 barns housing nearly 400 horses, all owned by Paulson, and 75 employees to maintain the operation.

The barns are built "in the old Kentucky style," Carr said, so as to resemble the famous breeding farm, the old Greentree Stud.

L Each barn is topped by a cupola and lighted by a chandelier.

"At night the farm looks like a little city," said Barbara Taylor, the farm's office manager.

Brookside is not a commercial enterprise. "We raise all of our horses to race," Carr said.

In just a decade Paulson has raced champions Estrapade, Theatrical, Bushing John and Arazi. Among the 180 mares that Paulson owns are Dahlia and My Charmer, the dam of Seattle Slew.

Paulson has occasionally gone to the sales to augment his homebreds, mostly buying fillies. But a few years ago, they bought a half dozen colts as weanlings, including one sired by Blushing Groom out of a "real attractive" Northern Dancer mare, Carr said.

That turned out to be Arazi, "and I spent $350,000 for him, more than I'd ever paid for a weanling," Paulson said.

Arazi had a European-style pedigree, but also "a knee that was a little offset," Carr said. "We decided to make our first, and only, attempt to sell sales yearlings that next year," Carr recalled. They took 18 to the sale and sold nine, but Arazi wasn't among them, as no buyer approached Paulson's purchase price.

He said the leading buyers, mostly from Arab countries but who race principally in Europe, were not interested in the colt, "so that was that."

Arazi was broken at Brookside and sent to Francois Boutin in France in November of his yearling year for training.

"He went to France because of his pedigree. He didn't have a perfect front end and horses wear better over there. The racing is not as hard as it is in this country on our dirt tracks," Carr said.

Boutin told Paulson the horse was a good one before he ever started running.

As soon as Arazi started winning, Paulson said Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, a member of the ruling family of Dubai, and his representatives became interested in the colt.

"They kept bugging me about buying him," he said. "They wanted to buy the whole horse for $5 million.

"Eventually, I told them I'd sell them half of him [for a reported $9 million]. I thought the price would get them off my back. But, darn if they didn't go for it."

Paulson said he regrets making the sale. "It's something I wouldn't do over again," he said.

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