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Fulton’s feats are no fairy tale!

Dec 24, 2002 5:40 AM

            While many industrialists retire with the fruits of their labors, Stan Fulton has begun a second career and he’s having the time of his life.

            Fulton was the founder of Anchor Gaming, a company he sold to the company’s operators three years ago and subsequently saw the firm merged with slot machine giant International Game Technology (IGT).

            Although his focus was on slots, especially as the developer of Wheels of Gold that later was adapted into Wheels of Fortune, one of the most successful slot machines ever placed on a casino floor, Fulton often hankered for a chance to run a racetrack. He loved horses and racing and wondered if he ever would find an opportunity.

            That became possible when he sold his interests in Anchor Gaming. One of the acquisitions his company had accomplished in the mid-90’s was the purchase of Video Gaming Technologies (VLC), a Bozeman, Mt., manufacturer of slot machines. Included in its inventory was a struggling racetrack, Sunland Park, in New Mexico.

            The track’s fortunes changed dramatically when the state’s legislature granted tracks the opportunity to install slot machines. Sunland’s balance sheet shed its red ink and began making money.

            None of this escaped Fulton’s sharp eyes. So, when he made the deal to turn over his shares in Anchor Gaming, he also added that he wanted to buy Sunland Park, offering to forego about $66 million in promissory notes for ownership of the track. Anchor Gaming’s management agreed since it new little about the racetrack industry and wanted to concentrate on its core business of designing and manufacturing slot machines.

            When Fulton acquired the track, there were 300 slot machines fueling its “racino.” The law was changed permitting Fulton to boost the number of machines to 750.

            Slot revenue was the stimulus to improve the racing product. Purses had averaged $30,000 a day prior to slots. This season those purses were expected to exceed $200,000 a day. What would never have been envisioned was the announcement that Sunland would run a $500,000 Kentucky Derby prep race on March 30,2003, and for three-year-old fillies, the track will offer a $250,000 prep for the Kentucky Oaks on March 29, 2003.

            This fits Fulton’s announced goal of making Sunland Park a world-class track.

            It’s all happened very fast for Fulton and he appears to be loving every minute of it.

            But that’s not all that keeps the Maryland native on the run these days. He has become a major player in the thoroughbred yearling market. So far, he has purchased 50 horses and the end isn’t in sight.

            Especially when he’s able to go to Hollywood Park, like he did last weekend, and root for a colt whose jockey is wearing Fulton’s lime green colors.

            The race was the Hollywood Futurity, a Grade I race, and his colt, Roll Hennessy Roll, with Jockey Alex Solis aboard, finished a tiring fifth. Still, there was much to cheer about. Roll Hennessy Roll shot to the early lead in the one mile and one-sixteenth event, and fought hard to keep that lead to the stretch turn when the hot pace over a drying out track took its toll.

            Considering Roll Hennessy Roll was competitive against two of the best juveniles in the country in Toccet and Kafwain, was enough to warm the hearts of any owner, especially Fulton. He purchased the son of successful sire Hennessy for $52,000 at the October, 2001, sale at Keeneland, Ky.

            While in Fulton’s colors, the colt has four of his six starts, earning $140,028. Among his victories was a four-length victory in the Hollywood Prevue, a Grade 3 event.

            Fulton has three other stakes winners in his barn, although none would equal the graded race won by Roll Hennessy Roll. The other stakes winners are Crackup, winner of the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile; Gralley, and Cherokee’s Disco.

            The former Las Vegas resident, who donated more than $6 million to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for the construction of the International Gaming Institute, located at the intersection of Flamingo and Swenson, never hesitates to tell people that he has been “lucky all my life. If you have a choice in life to be born smart or lucky, you take luck.”