Allen Paulson sold his aerospace corporation to Chrysler last year for $637 million, but even a man who deals in megabucks can have his down side.
Although Paulson's racing stable earned close to $2 million in purses, it did not show a profit because of investments totaling an estimated $80 million in the last three years.
A major shareholder in the financially troubled Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp., Paulson said he paid more than $2 million out of his own pocket to buy out three company officials who had been active in unsuccessful labor negotiations.
Paulson, 63, then ended the year on his back, hospitalized for about two months because of a back operation and a subsequent infection.
That misfortune prevented Paulson from seeing what was the highlight of the year for his stable, the filly Savannah Slew upsetting the brilliant Lady's Secret in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita in late December. An earlier high point was Savannah Dancer's win in the Del Mar Oaks.
Savannah Slew suffered a leg injury in the La Brea, joining several other Paulson fillies and mares that have been star-crossed.
Savannah Dancer, for instance, who cost $2.5 million, broke a knee and has been retired for breeding. So has Committed, a $2-million purchase who underwent surgery after breaking down during a gallop at Santa Anita.
Savannah Slew, however, is expected to resume racing later this year.
Paulson's deep pockets keep him in action, though, and another of his high-priced horses, the 6-year-old mare Estrapade, has been rested after a long 1985 campaign and will make her '86 debut today, facing 10 rivals in the $100,000 Santa Ana Handicap.
There has never been a repeat winner of the Santa Ana, which was first run in 1968, but Estrapade has the chance.
When she won last year, Estrapade raced for Bruce McNall's Summa Stable. Paulson, who had already owned a one-fourth interest in the Vaguely Noble mare, bought full ownership of Estrapade for $4.5 million at a breeding-stock auction in Kentucky last November.
Rushed back to Hollywood Park after that sale, Estrapade showed the effects of the travel and was a sluggish fourth in the Matriarch Invitational. Estrapade finished second to Pebbles in the 1985 voting for the top female grass runner. Videogenic, who was third in that division, is also entered in the Santa Ana.
Trainer Charlie Whittingham will be trying to do with Estrapade what he did last Sunday with Greinton, bring a horse back from a long layoff to win a major stake. Greinton, who hadn't started in four months, won the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap.
In the field against Estrapade will be another of Paulson's mares, L'Attrayante, whom be bought for just under $2 million in 1983. L'Attrayante won a stake in Canada shortly after Paulson became her owner but has done little in the United States.
Estrapade has been assigned top weight of 125 pounds today. Mountain Bear, at 120 pounds, is an English-bred who has won five straight races on grass at Santa Anita in the last two years, including a win in the San Gorgonio Handicap on Jan. 20.
Horse Racing Notes With Estrapade and Strawberry Road II, who will run Sunday in the $100,000 Arcadia Handicap, trainer Charlie Whittingham has a chance to saddle four straight stakes winners at Santa Anita. Whittingham won with Greinton Sunday in the Big 'Cap and with Hidden Light Wednesday in the La Habra Stakes. . . . Whittingham has entered two other horses, Val Danseur and Hail Bold King, in the Arcadia, which is 1 miles on grass, an eighth of a mile longer than the Santa Ana. . . . Rounding out the nine-horse Arcadia field are Talakeno, Truculent, Schiller, Fabiani, Clanrallier and Lucky N Green. . . . Strawberry Road, with 125 pounds, is giving 8 to 14 pounds to the opposition. Strawberry Road threw a shoe when he finished third in the San Luis Obispo Handicap, which was won by Talakeno. . . . Bill Shoemaker has the mount on Estrapade; Gary Stevens will ride Strawberry Road. . . . Meadowlake, undefeated as a 2-year-old but yet to make his first start this year, didn't work as scheduled on Friday at Gulfstream Park and reportedly has a bruised foot. Meadowlake would now appear to have a remote chance of running in the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah April 5. . . . Turkoman, a California-based horse trained by Gary Jones, won the Tallahassee Handicap Friday at Hialeah in a prep for the Widener Handicap there on March 29. Turkoman, ridden by Chris McCarron, was a 2 3/4-length winner in a time of 1:08 1/5 for the six-furlong race, which was 1/5 of a second off the track record.