As a noted Thoroughbred trainer based in New York, John Parisella saddled at least one winner every year for 48 years, racing at 38 tracks coast to coast. But that’s not what makes From the Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer to the Stars such a compelling read.
It’s Parisella’s celebrity connections and life away from racing.
As the stepfather of best-selling author and Reality TV star Bethenny Frankel, he shared fun times that are related for the first time in Denny Dressman’s revealing biography. Their strained relationship in Bethenny’s adulthood is examined, as well. And as championship basketball coach Rick Pitino’s confidante, Parisella worked behind the scenes with the New York Knicks and orchestrated Pitino’s eventual move to the University of Kentucky. They bedame so close that Pitino is the godfather of Parisella’s daughter Gabrielle.
Parisella’s cadre of stars from the worlds of entertainment and sports included James Caan, Don Rickles, Bono, Mickey Mantle, George Steinbrenner, New York radio personality Mike Francessa and many more. And his greatest horse, Simply Majestic, broke the world record for 1 1/8 miles set by the great Secretariat.
John Parisella’s colorful story begins in post-war Brooklyn, where his father’s mafia ties helped to define John’s rambunctious youth. It follows him to Yankee Stadium, where his lifetime of celebrity connections begins; to famed Saratoga Race Course, where it all began; and to California, where he lived for a time with actor Caan of The Godfather fame, and became friends with many other A-List personalities who hired him to train their horses—which led one of them, Jack Klugman of Quincy M.D. and Odd Couple fame, to dub him “Trainer to the Stars” during an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.”
Among his numerous adventures recounted in From the Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer to the Stars are a night at the Playboy Mansion that ended with Hugh Hefner banning him; introducing Bono, lead singer of the group U2, to Frank Sinatra backstage in Las Vegas; and amemorable shopping trip with John A. Gotti, son of the mafia boss known as “The Teflon Don.”
John Parisella lived faster than his horses ran, but he became a devoted father, too, and that side of him is told as well—highlighted by the wedding of Gabrielle.
From the Streets of Broolyn to Trainer to the Stars received advance raves from two recipients of The Denver Press Club’s prestigious, national Damon Runyon Award, Mike Lupica and Norm Clarke.
Lupica, an acclaimed New York City columnist and author, wrote:
“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.”
Clarke, renowned Las Vegas celebrity columnist, wrote:
Denny Dressman masterfully takes readers on John Parisella's improbable journey. Brooklyn, Thoroughbreds and celebrities: A winning trifecta.