Roberto Prieto, loved life and he lived it fully. We met in April of 1967. We had come from Cuba as kids and met in Louisville by chance, maybe it was meant to be. We were inseparable.
I don’t want to talk about sad things here. That’s not what he would of wanted. He always used to say have a drink in my name when I’m gone. He was the best handicapper I’ve ever met. He received a Corvette for his high school graduation. He immediately got a ticket, he loved to go fast just like the horses he loved.
We attended UK for one year, but that didn’t work out so well, too much partying and not enough studying. He got shipped off by his parents to some small University and I to another. After we got our grades back up to par we both ended up at the University of Louisville. He graduated with a Law degree, his sister graduated from Vanderbilt in 3 years.
He did not practice law right away. He was making a great living buying and selling thoroughbreds. By this time I had my Language school in Miami and was working as a consultant for a couple of thoroughbred farms in South America . I would call him and tell him ”I need a stakes winning Stallion prospect by so and so for a client” and he would find it for me. He sold Stallion prospects to Japan, Venezuela, Argentina, Puerto Rico. He invited me to go to Europe to buy one of the last Northern Dancers. That horse went to South America but I forget what country. He even raced some in his name.
His silks in the SIM were his real life silks. He was doing so well, he bought a farm in Lexington, and an airplane. We put a lot of miles on that plane. His favorite racetracks were Churchill, Keeneland, Saratoga and Hialeah. One day after winning big at Hialeah, he says let’s go to the Bahamas and keep gambling because I can’t lose. Well you know how that turned out, I’m glad we had round trip tickets.
He could tell you how many steps from the front gate of Churchill to the first window where he could bet the daily double. There were some dates that were circled in our calendars, Derby (we went to our first in 1968 and our last in 2000). Keeneland’s spring meet, Saratoga, Hialeah, Keeneland’s November sales, there we would buy one or two to pinhook later. Those were great times, no wife, no responsibilities.
He was such a giving person. At the track everyone knew him as a soft touch, always giving people money. His favorite time of year was August, he would rent a place in Saratoga and a bunch of our friends would come up for a couple of weeks of racing. The day went like this: get up and have some Bloody Marys with ham and eggs, go to the track, go back to the house, party and do it all over again the next day for 2 weeks. It didn’t get any better than that. He finally moved to Miami and started practicing law. First he worked for the State Attorney then in private practice. That’s how he lived, his life was full and interesting, he traveled to many Countries, he could talk about any topic but his favorite was thoroughbreds.
I found the SIM by chance and got him interested in it, he loved it. I remember one time we called to give Emily our Derby picks and he says to me “Emily sure sounds sexy” I think I’ll call her up”. I talked him out of that real fast. He loved the ladies. He was married for a short time to a girl from a prominent family from Lexington. You’re gone way to soon my friend. I know he is looking down on us right now from a $50 window in heaven. I will miss you my friend.