randy allen survives heart attack, awaits next big horse

Randy Allen was not feeling well in June. He went to see a doctor. An EKG was performed that revealed what was termed a “little blip.” They did not seem too worried about it. He was going to get a stress test the following week. The term “stress test” had him a little worried.

He was told he could go to St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne if he was concerned. He was also told the emergency room is almost always jammed. He went to the emergency room. Providentially, there was no one there and he never even sat down before he was taken back to be seen.

A blood test was taken that was concerning enough that he was told he would be staying the night. More tests revealed that he would need a bypass. When Allen heard the word bypass, he just happened to be on an operating table all hooked up and that’s the last thing he remembers. He had a heart attack right then and there and basically died.

“They shocked me and got me back and I’m here today,” Allen said. “I really shouldn’t be here.”

In fact, he was told by his surgeon that if he had walked through the front door of the hospital and had the heart attack he did, they couldn’t have saved him.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Allen said.

There must be a great horse in his future.

“They’re keeping me around for something,” Allen said. “I still haven’t quite figured that out, but I’m looking for the reason.”

Allen grew up on the Louisiana/Texas border. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from the time he was 6-years-old, they loaded up the truck and went to the races at nearby Delta Downs.

“My whole family is into horse racing,” Allen said. “My dad’s a trainer, both my uncles were trainers, both my brothers were jockeys, so I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. If you lived in my household, you dealt with horses.”

Allen has officially been training horses since 1988. He figures he’s been stabled at more than 20 tracks. His first was Louisiana Downs in Shreveport. He did the Oaklawn Park circuit. He was told not to go to the northeast, that “you’re a southern boy, you’re not going to make it up there.”

He went to Parx Racing anyway.

“I’ve been up here 34 years so I think it was a good choice for me,” Allen said. “I left from Chicago and came over.”

Allen has done so well in his career that his horses have won 882 races. He had 103 wins in 2007. From 2007-09, he won 204 races and $4.5 million in purses. He especially loved Sweet Misty who won stakes for him all over Texas and the northeast from 1996-1999.

He trained the mare Isabella Swift who was strong enough to race 81 times and earn $459,629. He trained Risque’s Diamond who was in the money in 20 of 35 starts and earned $418,618. What those two had in common is they were owned by Nick Saponara’s Club Risque Stable.

“Nick was not only my owner, he was probably one of my best friends,” Allen said. “Top notch guy. Loved him like a father.”

Nick sadly passed away almost 4 years ago. He was a legendary figure in horse racing in this area and was a major contributor to the PTHA as a member of its Board of Directors.

“I miss him every day,” Allen said. “I really do. I catch myself usually once a week, ‘thank you Nick for something.'”

We can thank Allen for Kendrick Carmouche. He happened to be watching Sam Houston one night, called the jockeys’ room and asked him if he was doing any good down there. The jock said he was “making a living.” Allen convinced Carmouche he would do very well at Parx.

Well, he did so well that he is a member of the Parx Hall of Fame and is now a top rider on the New York Circuit with 3,745 career wins and mount earnings of $141 million.

Allen has seven horses in the barn at the moment. He is still looking for the really big horse.

“If you’re not looking, you’re not going to find them because they don’t just come drop in your lap,” Allen said. “I bought a couple of yearlings this year. Maybe, I’ll find a good one. God kept me around here for some reason.. Hopefully, that’s the reason.”

And he has a name for the next good one: “Dr. Vigilance.”

That would be heart surgeon Dr. Deon Vigilance.

“He saved my life,” Randy Allen said.

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