Brian was looking for George, George was looking for Butch, Butch was looking for Richard so he could introduce him to George, and Richard, well, he was the little guy trying to pick his way through the crowd that had engulfed the winner's circle at Aqueduct.
In the pleasant pandemonium that descended on the circle after Saturday's running of the 1?-mile, $296,500 Wood Memorial, obviously the only one who knew where he was and where he was going was Eternal Prince, the smashing winner of the race, who had come and gone and was now looking for a warm mash dinner and a place to go to sleep.
"Where's George?" cried Brian Hurst, the majority owner of the colt who had just become a favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Hurst was trying to organize the group for a winner's-circle photo.
"There's George!" someone yelled. Sure enough, threading his way through the crowd was George Steinbrenner III, the principal owner of the New York Yankees and the new 37�% owner of Eternal Prince. "Come on, George, get in here!" Hurst said.
"Where's Butch?" said George. Butch is John (Butch) Lenzini, Eternal Prince's trainer. "Oh, there he is," said George. "He's over there hugging somebody. Butch is the only one who should be taking credit for this horse."
Finally, up walked Butch, looking around for Richard Migliore, Eternal Prince's jockey. Finding him, Butch said, "Richard, have you met George yet?" Richard and George shook hands.
At one point as he was being photographed, Hurst shouted, "We're going to be right here having our picture taken in Kentucky, too!"
That could happen. Under a superb ride by the 21-year-old Migliore, who sailed the colt to the lead at the start and then snugged him through a very slow first half mile in 48 seconds, Eternal Prince stole the Wood early. He ended up winning by 2� lengths over the stretch-running Florida Derby winner, the favored Proud Truth, with the much-ballyhooed winner of the Everglades Stakes, Rhoman Rule, trailing in third.
"The first half killed us," said John Veitch, the trainer of Proud Truth, who was seven lengths behind Eternal Prince at the half. "You can't give away that many lengths when the leader is running the first half in 48 seconds."
That slow early pace on an off track, in fact, transformed the Wood from the definitive Kentucky Derby prep it was supposed to be into a race that only muddied further-an already obscure Derby picture. The one truly emphatic Kentucky Derby performance on Saturday may have occurred in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. There, Eugene Klein's Tank's Prospect, who had run a dismal last in the Santa Anita Derby for trainer D. Wayne Lukas while suffering a minor respiratory problem, returned to form to win by six and a half lengths and become a horse to beat at Churchill Downs.