Updated on 09/17/2011 10:34AM

Preston back - with Oxbow


LEXINGTON, Ky. - One of the more significant stories apparent at this week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium racetrack in Maryland was the continuing development of Art and Stephanie Preston's Oxbow Racing stable.

Art Preston, along with his brothers Jack and J.R., previously raced a large stable of Thoroughbreds and developed Prestonwood Farm in Lexington, where they stood the top sire Kris S., along with champion Groovy, Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop, and the fast Forty Niner horse Distorted Humor.

The Prestons' involvement with racing took them to such heights as winning the Belmont with Victory Gallop and two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile with Da Hoss.

But in addition, their enthusiasm has sparked the greater involvement of others in the sport, particularly Ken Troutt and Bill Casner. And in January of 2000, the brothers sold the Prestonwood property and their Kentucky breeding stock to Troutt and Casner.

Troutt and Casner renamed their operation WinStar, and among the foals born in the partners' first year of operation was Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. "I'm particularly pleased that WinStar is doing so well," Preston said. "We have a great relationship with Ken Troutt and Bill Casner, and their involvement has been good for the sport."

WinStar has expanded its stud roster with Horse of the Year Tiznow, two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Preston did not get out of the sport, continuing to race and also breeding horses in Texas. But in November of last year, Preston and his wife dispersed 104 head of breeding and racing stock from their Lone Oak Farm in Texas.

But rather than an exit from the sport, it was the signal of the Prestons' return, with Oxbow Racing.

Art Preston said, "We are starting out small and are developing a racing contingent."

As part of this development, the Prestons signed for 12 horses at the Midlantic sale of juveniles this week.

"Stephanie and I are primarily involved in Oxbow, but Jack also will be involved to some extent," ArtPreston said. "Actually, we are still in the formative stages with this project, and we're scurrying around like an octopus with the seven-year itch, but we have the ambition and the passion."

As with the development of any program, there's a lot of legwork to be done in orchestrating a new racing and breeding venture. Preston takes a humorous view of the time and enthusiasm required for a racing operation.

"Stephanie and I have a symbiotic relationship," he said. "I have the passion, and she has the energy. She was off to the track this morning at 5. That's way too early for me, but I told her not to forget the doughnuts for my coffee."

Initially, Oxbow Racing will focus on racing, but its long-term objectives include purchasing a farm, developing a quality band of broodmares, and returning the focus of their operation to the Bluegrass.

"We will be headquartered in Lexington, and we are looking forward to being in the Bluegrass again," Preston said. "We wanted to get back into the area and get involved in better pedigrees. Down the road, I'd like to have a nice farm with good mares. It would be a breeding operation, but I don't believe it would involve stallions."

Even without a stallion component to the operation, this is clearly a very serious undertaking, and the Prestons are taking the time to see that the groundwork is done and to give themselves the best opportunity to get the results they desire.

"In returning to Lexington, we are trying to take it step by step, looking around," Preston said. "At this point, I don't know if we'll lease or buy [a farm], but it's all good fun and we're having a ball."

Fun is supposed to be a the core of sport, and as the bottom-line economics of breeding and racing clearly show, owners should get as much fun out of their involvement as possible because the financial rewards are unpredictable.

Commenting on the unexpected triumphs of Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide, Preston said: "This is a great game, and Funny Cide is the good news because a horse like that gives the little man a chance. It shows the smaller investor what can happen in this sport. But you have to get a hook in the water."