But Kaenel—who would become the youngest jockey to ride in the Preakness, much less win it—almost blew his big chance when, four days before the race, he was involved in an auto accident on his way to the racetrack. Once again, however, the kid's luck held. "Usually when I get in my car," Kaenel said, "I'm wearing my cowboy hat. For some reason I put on my riding helmet that day. I was just lucky, no other word for it. The car was totaled, but the helmet saved me." When Kaenel went to the first-aid station at Pimlico, he was treated for a slight concussion and allowed to walk around, though he had to cancel his mounts for the day. His agent, Bill Vuotto, was fined $50 for "using abusive language and being disrespectful to the nurse and attending physician."
Although he cost his owner a hefty $95,680, Aloma's Ruler now looks like a bargain basement buy because the Preakness win makes the colt by Iron Ruler from Aloma worth at least $2 million. In 1981 Scherr had originally decided to spend $50,000 to buy two horses at a sale of 2-year-olds in training at Hialeah. Lenzini looked at many horses and, he says, "fell in love with Aloma's Ruler. I thought I might be able to get the colt for $50,000—maybe $60,000 tops." Then Scherr saw Aloma's Ruler, and he, too, fell in love. "When the bidding got to $60,000," Scherr says, "Butch turned and started to walk away. I said, 'Butch, wait a minute here.' I got the horse for $92,000. The tax on the sale cost me another $3,680. Heck, the tax was more than I've paid for some horses."
Scherr, a former football and lacrosse player at Cornell, has had a Preakness horse before. In 1978 he started a horse named Dax S. in the race that starred Affirmed and Alydar. Dax S. was beaten by 24 lengths and later claimed for $16,500.
"I guess Dax S. just didn't belong," Scherr says. "But Aloma's Ruler belonged in the Preakness, didn't he?"