Celebrity adventures major part of colorful book on the life of Thoroughbred trainer John Parisella
Celebrity-filled adventures provide sustained spice to a close-up look at Thoroughbred racing in a new book that recounts the life of trainer John Parisella, who grew up in postwar Brooklyn and earned the title “Trainer To The Stars.”
The latest work by award-wining author Denny Dressman, From the Streets of Brooklyn to TRAINER TO THE STARS was released in both hardback and softcover editions June 1 by Hit The Mark Books, LLC.
Mike Lupica, award-winning New York City columnist and author of 15 New York Times Best Sellers, says of the book:
“From the streets of 1940’s Red Hook to the Winner’s Circle at Belmont Park and Aqueduct, to the guest’s chair on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, and friendships with the likes of Steinbrenner and Mantle, John Parisella’s New York City life sprints across the pages like a Runyon novel.”
John Parisella grew up in Brooklyn, the son of a bookmaker, and began making daily trips to Aqueduct and Belmont while still in high school. Though initially afraid of horses, by the mid-1980s he became the first Thoroughbred trainer ever under contract for $1 million a year. He trained horses for almost a half-century, his success rate at times hovering between 40% and 50%.
In the 1970s, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” he was dubbed “Trainer to the Stars,” a title that describes his lifetime of celebrity connections driven by an unusually engaging personality. During years when racetracks were numerous and the Sport of Kings attracted large crowds nearly everywhere, he earned the respect of horsemen across America by turning many seemingly lame also-rans into winners and champions.
At the same time he became the friend of, and enjoyed many adventures with, numerous celebrities—including basketball coach Rick Pitino, the godfather of his daughter Gabrielle; baseball icon Mickey Mantle, colorful Joe Pepitone and mercurial owner George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees; Frank Sinatra and Bono, lead singer of the pop music group U2; comedian Don Rickles; and actors James Caan, Telly Savalas, Jack Klugman and Don Adams. More than 40 personalities from entertainment, sports, business and politics are part of Parisella’s life story.
He’s also the stepfather of reality TV star, best-selling author and wealthy New York businesswoman Bethenny Frankel. And throughout his flamboyant career Parisella generously offered a helping hand and financial assistance to countless persons with whom he came in contact.
From the Streets of Brooklyn to TRAINER TO THE STARS recounts this fascinating life and career through countless stories told by the man himself and those who shared the incredible experiences with him.
This is author Dressman’s 10th book. Among his earlier works are Beyond The Camps, a look at the lives of Japanese American internees after internment; Sterling Heroes of World War II, 36 veterans’ first-person accounts of their wartime experiences; and a biography of iconic Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson, which was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.
Dressman concluded a 44-year newspaper career in June 2007, retiring from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver after 25 years. From 1992 to 2001 he was vice president for labor and human resources at the News. Earlier, he was city editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer and editor of the Oakland Tribune. He began his career as a sports writer at The Kentucky Post and the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times, where he covered the Kentucky Derby and other horse racing. He was inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dressman served as president of the Colorado Authors’ League, the state’s oldest professional writers organization, for two and a half years, from January 2016 through June 2018. In addition, he has edited a dozen other books, written for several magazines, and taught writing and editing in the University of Denver’s University College continuing education program. He is a past president of the Colorado Press Association, the trade organization representing the state’s newspapers.
From the Streets of Brooklyn to TRAINER TO THE STARS was designed by Scott Johnson, founder of Sputnik Design Works in Denver, Colorado. The softcover edition is available at $19.95, and the hardback at $29.95.