Art Preston, who campaigned the likes of GI Belmont S. winner Victory Gallop, GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Da Hoss and MGISW Flat Out with his brothers J.R. and Jack, passed away Saturday in Texas. His former wife Stephanie confirmed the news to the TDN via email.
An Oklahoma native, Preston graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Illinois and later partnered on a variety of business ventures with his brothers involving gas and oil, real estate, restaurants, cattle ranches and geothermal power generation companies. His success in the business world paved the way for an introduction to Thoroughbreds, which came with his fractional purchase of a low-level claimer in the late 1970s. With his brothers, Preston founded Preston Farm near Quanah, TX, then eventually developed Prestonwood Farm near Lexington, where they stood top sire Kris S. and Groovy. Distorted Humor, a horse campaigned in partnership with Russell Reineman, launched his stallion career at Prestonwood, as did Victory Gallop, who famously dashed Real Quiet’s Triple Crown aspirations in 1998. Other top horses to carry the Prestonwood green-and-red were GSW Connecting Terms and MSW & MGSP Birr.
In 2000, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner teamed to purchase Prestonwood from the brothers and renamed it WinStar Farm. The nursery remains home to Distorted Humor, now 25 years old.
“Art was a great man and he and his brothers were tremendous sportsmen. Winning the Belmont for them and going to dinner with them that night at the Garden City Hotel was something I will never forget,” said trainer Elliott Walden, who conditioned several of the Prestonwood runners. “They were always willing to take a chance and really enjoyed the sport. Jack, J.R. and Art laid a tremendous amount of groundwork for Kenny and Bill to come in and hit the ground running.”
Art Preston is survived by his former wife and 16-year-old son Cole Dyer Preston, who will take over what remains of Preston’s Thoroughbred holdings. A wake will be held this Thursday, March 29, at Oxbow Farm, 2150 N. Middletown Road, Paris, KY.