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From The Streets Of Brooklyn to Trainer To The Stars - Book Review

Cover of Trainer to the Stars, a book about the life of racehorse trainer John Parisella
The cover of Trainer to the Stars

John Parisella is known as both a successful racehorse trainer and a man who knew everyone - from Yankees player Mickey Mantle to actor James Caan. His story is one of ups and downs, starting in the streets of Brooklyn, New York and taking him to places like the stage of The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.

Parisella has lived a life that’s so full it’s almost hard to believe. When you pick up From The Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer To The Stars, you are sure to be shocked at the amount of recognizable names you’ll see plastered on the book’s cover and weaved throughout the pages. The book will take you on a ride that’s hard to get off of. After the first few pages grab your attention, it’s hard to put the book down.

That is because John Parisella isn’t the “perfect” creature that you so often read about. He was a gambler, he struggled with drug abuse, and he lived a life full of both woe and triumph. Any average person can find a version of Parisella that they relate to. Anyone who too finds themselves spending far more money than they anticipated at the racetrack or has too found themselves simply not fitting in with the “crowd” will identify with Parisella.

One of my favorite parts of Trainer To The Stars was this story about Parisella trying to get into the Turf Club at Hollywood Park. The Club had a dress code of at least a leisure suit and a tie (or ascot). Parisella shows up at the Turf Club with the coat and tie on but was wearing sneakers with no socks. They wouldn’t let him in (he did eventually get let in). It’s a little anecdote that really shows the carefree and colorful personality of Parisella that you will come to love when reading this book.

From the Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer To The Stars touches on every part of Parisella’s life. His time as a racehorse trainer led him to some great success - he trained Fight Over to a third place finish in the 1984 Preakness Stakes and Simply Majestic to a third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Parisella trained multiple graded stakes winners and had a knack for claiming horses and turning them into winners.

The book tells of his time learning from Kentucky Derby winning trainer John Campo. It takes you through the rollercoaster of him training horses for various movie stars and wealthy businessmen. It shows you his “almost” purchase of Spend A Buck, his special attention to his horse’s feet, and the time his horse Simply Majestic broke a world record set by the immortal Secretariat.

Author Denny Dressman spent many days interviewing Parisella, hearing the entire story from the man himself. There are also many stories told by John’s friends and colleagues that paint a great picture of this man.

John Parisella is a man unlike any other. From The Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer To The Stars is his story (and a great one at that). I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves horse racing, Hollywood, baseball, and basketball. I promise that you will not be disappointed.


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