Ex-GJ resident eyes Preakness win on heels of Kentucky Derby

Former Grand Junction resident and Kentucky Derby champion co-owner Mark Allen likes how life’s changed over recent days.

For the most part.

“Lots of reporters calling,” said Allen, 50, who was interviewed by telephone Thursday from Baltimore, where the 134th Preakness Stakes takes place Saturday. “It will be nice to get back home and relax a bit.”

Allen, who lived in Grand Junction 12 years before leaving around 1992 for Roswell, N.M., is co-owner of Mine That Bird, the longshot winner of the Kentucky Derby.

“The horse is turning really well, and the track definitely has a speed bias,” Allen said of preparations for Saturday’s $1.1 million second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Mine That Bird was listed by oddsmakers Thursday at 9-2. Allen’s horse is scheduled to run in the second position from the post.

“I’d like to be more toward the middle, but you’ve got to run where they put you,” he said.

Allen owns a ranch near Roswell, while his mother and sister still live in the Grand Junction area. The family also owns 10 acres off 24 Road.

Allen teamed with a neighbor in Roswell last year to purchase Mine That Bird for $400,000 as a gelding, while the horse sold for $9,500 as a yearling, according to the Associated Press.

Allen said he has worked around horses since age 12, when he started cleaning stalls.

“The guys who introduced me were real cowboys,” he said.

His family’s recent history in Alaska reads like something out of the Wild West, too. Mark Allen and his father, Bill, both were the subject of testimony in last fall’s corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, according to a story earlier this month by the Anchorage Daily News.

Stevens’ conviction was set aside by a federal judge last month.

“I’m a horseman,” Mark Allen said when asked about the controversy. “I don’t know anything about it.”

The Daily News reported that Bill Allen pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of bribing legislators in Alaska.

The elder Allen also testified that his son personally paid bribes to legislators.

As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Bill Allen’s family was granted immunity from prosecution, the newspaper said.

“My dad don’t lie, and what he says is the truth,” Allen said Thursday. “My dad’s a good man.”


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