Belmont Next For Burrells

Posted: May 06, 1991

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Horse racing always has been a bit of a closed society. Its image is just a tad stuffy. Black owners are rare.

Enter the Oaktown Stable of the Burrell family of Oakland. The Burrells own Lite Light, the sensational 3-year-old filly who won Friday's Kentucky Oaks by 10 lengths. Immediately after the race, the owners announced they plan to run their filly against the colts in the Belmont Stakes.

That's pretty outrageous. But when you consider that Stanley Burrell is popularly known as M.C. Hammer, rap superstar, you can imagine what the establishment must be thinking.

After the Kentucky Derby, M.C. Hammer's father, Lewis E. Burrell Sr., a lifelong horseplayer and now a big-time horse owner, revealed that his family had made a serious offer to buy Derby winner Strike the Gold after the March 16 Florida Derby.

"We made a very strong offer. We didn't come with a penny and a nail. We came with money. You can't offer a guy $1,000 and a six-month payment plan for a horse like this," Burrell said. "Had (part-owner Giles Brophy's) wife not been in love with the horse, Oaktown Stable would have a Kentucky Derby winner. We loved this horse."

Giles Brophy confirmed that a serious offer had been made. He made what he considered a high counteroffer and Burrell passed. Burrell was given an opportunity to join the partnership but declined.

"You can't sell a dream," Brophy said.

"We tried to catch him before he knew what he had," Burrell said on the way to his limo.

Too late now. Now everybody knows. Brophy and his partners have a Kentucky Derby winner.


Hansel, the surprise 5-2 favorite at Churchill Downs, finished 10th. Fly So Free, last year's 2-year-old champion, finished fifth. No 2-year-old champion or post-time favorite has won the Derby since 1979 when odds-on favorite Spectacular Bid won after being named 2-year-old champ the year before . . . Jockey Pat Day won five races on the card, just like he did two years ago. But his Derby mount, Corporate Report, finished ninth. That makes Day 0- for-9 in America's race. Day won the ninth race on a horse named Greydar, a full brother to Strike the Gold, a horse Day had a chance to ride. Day, who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on Derby Day, went in another direction several weeks ago and never got the mount back . . . Strike the Gold's sire, Alydar, died on the day his son broke his maiden last fall. Alydar had the misfortune of being born the same year as Affirmed. But his legacy is assured. His son, Alysheba, won the Derby in 1987.

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