D.Wayne – Don’t Count the Old Coach Out

Breeders CupBy Art Parker

This year we begin the fourth decade of the Breeders’ Cup. The 31st Breeders’ Cup, which is the most prestigious day of the year in thoroughbred racing, will be held at Santa Anita this coming weekend. A total of 14 races with purses and awards totaling $27 million.

Many things have changed since the first Breeders’ Cup. Naturally, the horses have changed and the people have too. A few of the old guys are sticking around but none of those still hanging around has impacted the entire Breeders’ Cup story like trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The former high school teacher, basketball coach and quarter horse trainer is the oldest to win a Breeders’ Cup race. In 2012 when he was 77 the coach won the Juvenile Sprint with Hightail. Many of us marveled at the accomplishment. A little more than six months later he won the Preakness (again) with a tough colt named Oxbow. For Lukas to relinquish the title of oldest trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race, he would need to be shut out this year at Santa Anita, and California Chrome will need to win the Classic for trainer Art Sherman.

Lukas, now 79, will not be showing up at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita just to see old friends; he will be there with several entries. And while he may not have the best chances in the world, no one will keep the most successful trainer in the world at home.

His best chance will be with Mr. Z, and even if that one will leave the gate as a long shot, it should be noted that he finished second at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Futurity to the highly impressive Carpe Diem.

Lady Zu and Take Charge Brandi are two juvenile girls that Lukas has entered but should be long odds before the gates open at Santa Anita.

But don’t let odds scare you, and don’t forget two of Lukas’ major scores in the Breeders’ Cup. Remember 1991 when Cat Thief stole the Classic 19-1? Remember 2000 when the filly Spain shocked us in the Distaff at 55-1? Don’t think that Lukas can’t do it again.

In addition to Hightail, Cat Thief and Spain, here are but a few of Lukas’ Breeders’ Cup winners over the years. The list is impressive: Lady’s Secret, Steinlen, Gulch , Orientate, Capote,  Timber Country, Open Mind, Flanders.

Lukas has started 161 horses in the Breeders’ Cup. He has notched 19 winners, and finished in the money (top 3) another 38 times.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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