Trainer Dan Perlsweig, who spent more than 50 years in racing and is best known as trainer of champion Lord Avie, died Feb. 27. He was 91.
In the days before the 1981 Florida Derby (G1), Perlsweig channeled his inner Joe Namath and guaranteed Lord Avie would win the top-level race for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park. Like the guarantee by Namath ahead of the New York Jets' victory in Super Bowl III, Perlsweig would prove prescient as Lord Avie bested Akureyri by 4 1/2 lengths.
"He got beat two noses and I go from a hero to a bum," Perlsweig said, referencing Lord Avie's close third in that year's Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), before promising victory. "I will tell you this, and I am dead serious: He will win the (Florida) Derby and he'll win it big."
A World War II veteran, Perlsweig would enter horse racing as a jockey, riding for a decade. But he would hit his stride as a trainer, where, from 1976-1999 he would win 505 races from 3,870 starts for purse earnings of $7,892,683. (Stats before 1976 are not readily available, but Perlsweig also started horses and won races throughout the 1960s, according to The American Racing Manual.)
Other top horses conditioned by Perlsweig include Arlene's Valentine, a winner of four stakes from 1987-89; Do It Again Dan, winner of the 1986 New Hampshire Sweepstakes Handicap (G3); and Willowy Mood, who won three stakes in 1984.
But Sks Stable's Lord Avie would prove Perlsweig's most successful runner. The son of Lord Gaylord—Avie, by Gallant Man, would cap his juvenile season with grade 1 scores in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the Young America Stakes at Meadowlands to nail down champion 2-year-old male honors.
While Lord Avie would be Perlsweig's top horse on the track, the trainer also made his name on the backstretch. His family noted that in the 1990s he founded Backstretch Appreciation Day.
Perlsweig's wife of 51 years, Patricia "Patsy" Perlsweig McCarthy, died in 2002. He is survived by his daughter Judy Stomel (Mark), son Mark Perlsweig (Carolyn), and three grandchildren.
A viewing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and a service at 1:30 p.m. March 3 at Woolley-Boglioli Funeral Home in Long Branch, N.J.