Tag Archive | "Lukas"

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Derby winner Orb installed as Belmont favorite over Oxbow

Posted on 05 June 2013 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — Back home again, Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.

Orb was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, and trainer Shug McGaughey is confident his colt can bounce back from his fourth-place finish behind Oxbow in the Preakness.

“He’s been here for three weeks, and I think it has to be a help not only mentally but being familiar with the footing as well,” McGaughey said. “He’s done well here and trained well here. … I’m going to strike a line through the Preakness. It wasn’t his day. It was (trainer) Wayne Lukas and Oxbow and Gary Stevens’ day. We’re going to regroup and hopefully you’ll see the right horse here on Saturday.”

Orb drew the No. 5 post Wednesday, with Oxbow two gates over in No. 7. Revolutionary, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s record five entries, is the second choice at 9-2. Oxbow is next at 5-1.

“I think Shug has established his horse as the favorite today, and that’s right,” said Lukas, who has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, including the Belmont four times. “But I think he knows he has to take care of business in getting us out of the way, too.”

The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the largest since 1996, when Lukas won the race with Editor’s Note.

“It’s a great advantage to be on your home court, where you train your horses,” said Lukas, who used to have a Belmont-based stable. “They don’t have to ship in and get settled, and then get over the surface. They’ve already been doing that.”

Orb, under Joel Rosario, navigated his way past 16 rivals in the final half mile of the Derby to win by 2 1/2 lengths. In the Preakness, Orb was unable to find running room outside after breaking from the rail, and Oxbow led wire-to-wire under Gary Stevens.

McGaughey is well-versed in what it takes to deal with the Belmont – one long trip around the spacious oval.

“The jockey is really going to have to read the race – it’s what separates the top riders from some of those that aren’t,” said McGaughey, who won the Belmont with Easy Goer in 1989 and spoiled Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown try. “If you turn down the backside at Belmont, it’s not like turning down the backside at Churchill Downs, or Pimlico or the Fair Grounds.

“You’ve got a long way to go, and big open space through there, and you better be patient. If you’re not, it’s going to get to you.”

Orb comes into the race with five wins in nine starts for owners Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Stuart Janney III, while Oxbow’s Preakness win was just his third win in 11 starts for Calumet Farm.

Pletcher is looking for his second Belmont win. He won it in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, and Unlimited Budget could make him 2-for-2 with his Belmont fillies if Rosie Napravnik can pull off the upset and become the second female rider to win a Triple Crown race (Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont with Colonial Affair).

“She’s a big, strong, talented filly. From a physical standpoint, she is going to match up well,” Pletcher said. “My biggest concern is the mile-and-a-half, with her not as strongly bred as Rags to Riches. But she’s trained very well.”

Pletcher will also send out Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Midnight Taboo. Mike Repole owns Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo.

Unlimited Budget, who won her first four starts before running third in the Kentucky Oaks, and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child are co-fourth choices at 8-1.

The last Derby-Belmont winner was Thunder Gulch in 1995, and the last Preakness-Belmont winner was Afleet Alex in 2005. The last rematch of the Derby and Preakness winners was in 2011, when Preakness winner Shackleford ran fifth and Derby winner Animal Kingdom sixth behind Ruler On Ice.

The field from the rail out is Frac Daddy (Alan Garcia, 30-1), Freedom Child (Luis Saez, 8-1), Overanalyze (John Velazquez, 12-1), Giant Finish (Edgar Prado, 30-1), Orb (Joel Rosario, 3-1), Incognito (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1), Oxbow (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Midnight Taboo (Garrett Gomez, 30-1), Revolutionary (Javier Castellano, 9-2), Will Take Charge (Jon Court, 20-1), Vyjack (Julien Leparoux, 20-1), Palace Malice (Mike Smith, 15-1), Unlimited Budget (Rosie Napravnik, 8-1), and Golden Soul (Robby Albarado, 10-1).

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/06/05/2626001/derby-winner-orb-3-1-favorite.html#storylink=cpy

 

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Preakness winner Oxbow headed to Belmont Stakes

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

PREAKNESS WINNER OXBOW CONFIRMED FOR BELMONT STAKES

ORB ‘FINE’ AFTER DULL TRY;  ITSMYLUCKYDAY MAKES GRADE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-19-13 – Back in the 1980’s and ‘90s when trainer D. Wayne Lukas was winning Triple Crown races with astonishing regularity, the catch-phrase “D. Wayne off the plane” followed him from track to track as he made his hit-and-run assaults on racetracks across America with a lineup of assistants that included Todd Pletcher, Mark Hennig, Kiaran McLaughlin and Dallas Stewart.

The glory days of Lukas had seemingly subsided in the new millennium with the passing of wealthy clients like Eugene Klein, W. T. Young and Bob Lewis. In recent years, Lukas had geared down his operation and had become more of a fringe player on racing’s biggest stage.

That all changed Saturday when the 77-year-old Hall of Famer saddled his record-14th Triple Crown race winner, Oxbow, for the 138th Preakness for legendary Calumet Farm, which had similarly faded from the forefront of major thoroughbred racing,

It was the first spring classic winner for Lukas since Commendable took the Belmont Stakes in 2000, and the Preakness score by Oxbow ended a drought in the classics for Calumet dating all the way back to Forward Pass’s victory in the 1968 Preakness.

Lukas and his nine-horse contingent, that also included Dixie upsetter Skyring and his personal pony, were on the highway before dawn Sunday morning, heading back to their home base at Churchill Downs. Then it’s on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks with Oxbow and possibly seventh-place finisher Will Take Charge. Titletown Five, Lukas’ third Preakness entrant who finished last, will run in shorter races for the rest of his 3-year-old campaign.

“I’ve always rode with the horses all my career,” said Lukas, who now has six Preakness winners, one behind Robert Walden for the all-time record in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. “I used to go on the airplanes and stand there with them all the time. We don’t fly much anymore.”

He’s “the man on the van” these days, having ridden in a pickup truck for more than 12 hours to Pimlico on Tuesday and scheduled to follow the same routine back home Sunday.

“I’ll get him home at feeding time just about,” Lukas said. “By the time I get him home and give him a bath it’ll be right about 5 o’clock. They put a bucket seat where I ride on kind of an air-ride slide thing. It’s like riding in a boat somewhere on the waves.”

This Preakness was a serious helping of history for the connections of the winner. In addition to Lukas and Calumet, jockey Gary Stevens capped an unlikely comeback at age 50 by winning his third Preakness (Silver Charm and Point Given).

Last year at this time, Stevens was working in Baltimore as a TV analyst for NBC and HRTV. Lukas said all week he was thrilled to have the Hall of Famer aboard Oxbow and was encouraged by his Derby performance.

“He’s so on top of all this stuff,” Lukas said. “He’ll tell you the fractions, who was laying fourth on the backside and everything. He’s very into this, very into this.”

Oxbow, a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, is Lukas’ first Preakness winner since Charismatic in 1999. His other Preakness winners were Timber Country (1995), Tabasco Cat (1994), Tank’s Prospect (1985) and Codex in 1980.

Over those glory days, there was a sometimes not-so-friendly rivalry with colleague Bob Baffert, who saddled Govenor Charlie to a disappointing eighth-place finish Saturday. It was Baffert’s 14th Preakness starter (five winners), well behind Lukas’ record total of 40.

“Over the years a lot of people thought that Baffert and I had a rivalry, when actually we come from pretty similar backgrounds and we’re pretty good friends,” Lukas said. “It was really significant yesterday when he came down and congratulated me right after the race. A mutual friend of ours said that when his horse didn’t look like he was getting it done at the half-mile pole, Bob and a friend were jumping up and down and saying: ‘Go get ‘em, Lukey.’ “

Lukas said almost immediately after the Preakness that he hoped to try Oxbow in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes.

“I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome,” Lukas said. “Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can’t check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward.”

 

ORB – Kentucky Derby hero Orb boarded a van bound for New York at 7 o’clock Sunday morning, showing no ill effects from Saturday’s disappointing fourth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He came out of it fine. He’s sound. Physically, everything is fine,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We’ll get him up the road and evaluate the situation to see where we’ll go.”

McGaughey didn’t have a concrete explanation for Orb’s surprisingly dull performance as the 3-5 favorite that followed a sharp, dominating 2 ½-length victory two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs.

“The racetrack was probably deep down the inside there. There was a lot of throwback. We couldn’t get to the outside. I thought he was in good position and he took him to the right position, and all of a sudden he had no horse. Why that was, I don’t know,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I think it wasn’t our day and it was Oxbow’s day.”

Saturday’s disappointment in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown only made McGaughey appreciate the Derby victory even more.

“Winning the Derby was my lifelong dream. We won it. I would have loved to win (Saturday) to take it to the next level, so I do appreciate how tough it is,” McGaughey said. “If I have the opportunity again (to compete in the Derby), I may cherish it even more, because I’ve seen how tough it is to get it done. Maybe, I do appreciate how tough it is to win more. As brilliant as we were two weeks ago, we weren’t as brilliant yesterday.”

McGaughey will monitor Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s homebred colt’s training at Belmont Park before deciding his status for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8.

“I want to see him bounce back and see his soundness level and his energy level,” he said. “I think there are a lot of good wins down the road for him.”

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday looked bright Sunday morning, earning high marks from trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for the manner in which he exited his second-place finish behind Oxbow in Saturday’s Preakness.

“On a 1-to-10 scale, 10-plus,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th over the sloppy Churchill Downs track in the Kentucky Derby, rebounded with a strong showing at Pimlico. The son of Lawyer Ron, who was forwardly placed in fourth as Oxbow set a comfortable pace along the backstretch, kicked in through the stretch but could get no closer than 1 ¾ lengths of D. Wayne Lukas’ sixth Preakness winner.

“I wouldn’t take anything away from Wayne’s horse, but they went the half in 48-and-change. That’s pretty much walking. Did that help his horse? Absolutely. Did it hurt my horse? Absolutely,” Plesa said. “I won’t say anything other than: ‘I wish the pace would have been quicker.’”

Plesa said Itsmyluckyday’s dismal Derby showing did nothing to undermine his confidence in his colt’s abilities, but he was happy that the Florida-bred got a chance to prove his critics wrong.

“Everybody was throwing him out because he couldn’t get the distance and he ran a lousy race. I hate to use slop as an excuse, but it was a valid excuse. We all knew that,” Plesa said. “Not for us, but for other people, it validates his ability.

That’s not a bad thing. They’re like your children. You don’t like to read something bad about your children. We know what we have. He’s an exceptional horse; there’s no doubt about it.”

A start in the Belmont Stakes is far from a definite for the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner.

“It’s 50-50 at best,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who was scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Sunday, is a far more definite candidate to run in the Haskell Invitational at the New Jersey track on July 28.

“The Haskell is on my list. God willing, that’s a certainty,” Plesa said.

 

MYLUTE - Fourteen hours after his colt finished third in the Preakness, trainer Tom Amoss said Sunday that he was even more impressed with the performance than he was Saturday.

“Upon reflection, I think my horse ran the best race of his career,” Amoss said. “The slow pace was impossible for us to overcome and yet he still ran a very good race. I don’t know where the rest of the speed went in yesterday’s Preakness. It looked like there was quite a bit on paper, but it just didn’t materialize.”

Amoss said the son of Midnight Lute owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm has earned a little bit of time off.

“As far as future plans, nothing is on the board right now,” he said. “I’ll get together with the owners at the beginning of the week and we’ll discuss what to do. He’s had two races close together and I think that’s going to be taken into account when we have that conversation.”

And Amoss saluted the winning trainer and jockey combination of Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens. Lukas, 77, won his record 14th Triple Crown race and Stevens, 50, earned his third Preakness just a few months after ending a seven-year retirement.

“It was a masterful job,” Amoss said. “As far as Wayne is concerned, you’ve got to tip your hat to him. Over the last year he’s made a remarkable comeback and put himself where he used to be, which is at the top of the trainers’ charts.”

 

GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill and his fifth-place Preakness finisher Goldencents will not be going on to Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes as originally planned. Team O’Neill and the colt departed early Sunday morning to return to Southern California.

“It doesn’t make sense to go on to the Belmont,” O’Neill said. “We had talked prior (to the Preakness) that if we didn’t run huge and came out of it great, we wouldn’t come back in three weeks. Even though I’m very proud of him and the way Kevin (Krigger) rode him, I just don’t think coming back in three weeks off that effort is the right move.”

Last year, O’Neill left Pimlico looking for a sweep to the Triple Crown with I’ll Have Another, who had followed up his Kentucky Derby win with a score in the Preakness. He would never get the opportunity when the son of Flower Alley came down with a leg injury that forced him to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes.

Goldencents, a three-time stakes winner going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, was a dismal 17th at Churchill Downs, but O’Neill believed the sloppy, sealed race track was largely responsible for that. He admitted the son of Into Mischief simply couldn’t keep up with Preakness winner Oxbow after briefly heading him coming out of the gate on Saturday.

“We’ll relax and see what’s in the cards five, six, seven weeks down the road,” O’Neill said. “You’ve got the 3-year-old series on the turf down at Del Mar, so we could possibly try a different surface with him.

“Or we could go over him good, train him out there and then look for races like the Haskell or Travers somewhere down the road. We’ll huddle up with the owners and put together a game plan. He’s a good horse. You’ll be hearing from him.”

 

DEPARTING - Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s War Front gelding was shipped back to Kentucky Sunday morning following his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He’s fine, but he cooled out very tired,” trainer Al Stall said.

Stall said he had not talked with the owners about future plans for Departing, but that he would not be participating in the Belmont Stakes.

 

GOVENOR CHARLIE - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported Sunday that the eighth-place finisher came out of the race in good shape and was being shipped back to California with stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, the winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

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Lukas, Stevens revel in history made with Oxbow at Preakness

Posted on 18 May 2013 by WNST Staff

D. WAYNE LUKAS

GARY STEVENS

 

            THE MODERATOR:  We’re going to wait for Gary Stevens to get started.  Wayne is here.  Wayne, congratulations.  Number 6, we’ll make it official in a minute, but congratulations.  Let’s wait for Gary.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  I’m in no hurry.  It’s going to be a long night.

THE MODERATOR:  Erin Kelly of Calumet, Brad Kelly’s daughter, who accepted the trophy just a few minutes ago does not want to come out and actually answer questions in this setting.  I think what she said up there probably will have to do for now unless some of you guys can get her.  But as soon as Gary comes in, we’ll get started.

Again if you don’t know, Gary won his third Preakness:  Point Given, Silver Charm, and now Oxbow.  This is Wayne’s sixth.  Codex in 1980, Tank’s Prospect in ’85, then Tabasco Cat, Timber Country and Charismatic and now Oxbow.

And for Calumet, I believe it’s number eight.  And among the winners that they have brought here to Baltimore, Forward Pass was the last in 1968 and now Oxbow.

We’re going to also take some questions upstairs.  Joe Gordon’s standing by in the press box upstairs as well.  We’ll get started, Wayne, if you’re okay with that.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, I am.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, it’s getting tougher, because we’re getting larger fields and there are preparations leading up to these classics are so much tougher now.  Back in the ’50s and so forth, when it was eight, nine head in the Derby and so forth, it wasn’t so hard to maybe come in.

In all fairness to the horses that were in the Derby, they came up a hard 20‑horse field in the off going, and then to come back here in two weeks, that makes it tougher.  If they can run in six or eight‑head fields or ten‑horse fields in the Derby and then roll in here, it’s going to make it easier.  So it’s going to be tougher all the time.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I left it up to Gary.  Let me say, this I think I got a Hall of Fame ride.  I think we can plan this thing, we can talk about it, we can talk about strategy.  But once that gate is open, they have to make decisions.  Gary made some great ones.  He really ‑‑ I told him, if you get on the lead, get into that cruising speed and just let it happen.              Actually, we thought that maybe that Goldencents and a couple of those other horses might show a little bit more speed and we would not inherit the lead as easily as we did today.  Gary was smart enough.  When he threw up the 1:13 and change, I knew we were in good shape.  We weren’t totally confident.  But I knew the way this horse cruises and gets into stride, you could see how relaxed and how easy he was getting over that ground on the backside.  I said, this isn’t over by a long shot.  We’re going to be tough.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Very confident.  I thought he had the best day of the spring yesterday.  The gallop boy that gallop’s him all the time was on him the same.  And I said that is the best he ever looked.  He just seemed like he was in the zone, relaxed, got over the track.  He can get aggressive in the morning.  He’s not an easy horse to train at all.  He’s so aggressive.  You think you’re doing too much every single day with him, but the good ones sometimes do that.

THE MODERATOR:  I’m going to have to repeat the questions for everybody upstairs.

 

Q.  Neither you nor Gary were happy with ride in the Arkansas Derby.  What has happened since then?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, in all fairness to Gary, this horse is very difficult to ride unless you’ve been on him and you get to read him a little bit.  When he got in the Arkansas Derby, of course, he got wide and Gary rightly so thought we were going to be way out there, so he took ahold of him.

This horse just doesn’t want that.  He wants to be left alone, and so we learned so much from that.  You never know from racing.  I learned about the horse.  I learned a little bit more about training him, and that race may have made it a lot better for us to go into the Kentucky Derby and certainly today.

 

Q.  Is there anyway, Wayne, to compare this one to the other five?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  They’re all special because they were all with a different client.  That is the thing.  The key, if you’re training horses, try to win one every once in a while for a new guy.  We’ve got a new guy in Brad Kelly at Calumet, and that is just the good economics of it.  You give that guy that special moment to stand up there with his daughter and to know that he was watching at home and put Calumet, who we all know that name, back on the front pages of the racing publications is very special.  I’m so happy for him just to have the opportunity to represent him.

 

Q.  Did you expect Orb to make a charge at the end and he just didn’t, or did you just out run him?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, I really did.  I made a comment to some of my colleagues.  I said, if Orb gets clear on the outside at the half‑mile pole, in fact I told the Lieutenant Governor that right before the race, I said I don’t think anybody can beat him before the race.

I thought that ‑‑ when Gary turned the corner and we got that little bit of spurt on the lead change, then I got to feeling pretty comfortable.  Of Course, I’m not watching Orb at that point.  I’m trying to find Will Take Charge and Titletown Five and see how this thing’s unfolding after they hit the 3/16 pole.  I only watched one.

 

Q.  It’s been a while since you’ve won a Triple Crown race.  What does it feel like?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  People asked me that there and you guys have been asking me all week.  I thought I did.  The thing about it is you get up every day and look for that one that you maybe can do something.  But as long as we’ve got something to work with, we’re going to be around.  I think that we’re not through by a long way here.  I feel like we can get up and maybe get another one someplace down the line.

But that’s what makes it so interesting.  You have to have a passion for it.  It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job.  Is this a bad ‑‑ listen what happened?  I run last in the first horse I started.  The second one doesn’t even finish the race.  How is that to start your day?  Then all of a sudden, I run a grass race and I win the Preakness.  What a roller coaster.  I mean, that is the nature of our game.

 

Q.  Did you hear Bob Baffert thought you would appreciate this one more than your first one.  Do you?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yes, yes, definitely.  At 77, I do, yes.  The first one I thought I was going to win quite a few more.  I ran the first Classic I ever ran in was Codex right here.  I told my son, this is no big deal.  We’ll win a bunch of these, and then I went ten years before I got another one.  Bob’s a good friend, and a meant a lot to me to have him come down all wait from where he was and congratulate me.  I called him this week at home.  He was on the fence maybe he’d even run here.  And I said, Bob, get on an airplane and come back.  You need to be here.  We’ll have some fun.

So what does he do?  He comes back, wins the Black‑Eyed Susan, wins the Sprint.  He didn’t get this one, but he had a hell of a day.

 

Q.  Are you going to go to the Belmont?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, one of the things that really Gary and I were talking about that really impressed us was he was not even blowing when he was walked in the winner circle.  You guys are pretty astute.  I don’t know if you noticed that, but he didn’t hardly turn a hair, and he showed no stress lines whatsoever, nothing, so a mile-and-a-half.

Frank Stronach says he can run that far.  Of course he owns the sire.  But we haven’t had a chance to cool him out yet and I’ve got to talk to Mr. Kelly.  But you know me, I like to rack them up in the big events.  So I’ll probably go.

 

Q.  What are your travel plans?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  4:30 tomorrow morning, if you want to get up and watch him load on that van, he’ll be on it.  And my truck driver and I will get in that big old truck, and we’ll head down the road and make about two Wendy’s stops on the way, and we’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky by 5:36 tomorrow night.

 

Q.  I know you want to win more of these, but how complete now do you think your Hall of Fame Triple Crown career is?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I enjoy it so much.  I don’t wake up every day trying to prove I can train a race horse anymore.  When you’re younger, you keep trying to prove yourself in this industry.

But at this point in my career, I’m very comfortable with where we’re at.  I don’t wake up and say, gosh, I’ve got something to prove to you all that I can train a race horse.  I do it for the personal satisfaction of working with the horses and developing some young assistants.

We’ve still got some guys coming through the ranks, and it’s just a wonderful lifestyle.  I mean, where in the hell can you get paid to ride out there.  I ride on my saddle horse in beautiful weather four hours in the morning, go to the turf club, have lunch.  Deal with great people.  I mean, is this a great country or what?

 

Q.  You broke the record for most Triple Crown wins.  I believe today was 14.  How does that make you feel?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, I shared that record with a very special man in this industry in Sunny Fitzsimmons.  And if I never broke it, I was proud of that.  I know he meant so much to the thoroughbred industry.  I never knew him personally, but I thought that that was something I’m really proud of.  I don’t have it documented anywhere.  You guys reminded me of it all week.

I thought maybe we’d win another one, but to get it done, it’s probably going to be on trivial pursuit in about five minutes, but that’s it.

 

Q.  The last thing you said at the Alibi the other day when you were talking to us was I think we’re going to get another one, and you got it.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Yeah, but I didn’t know if it was Saturday.

 

Q.  The whole press corps is wondering can you delay the departure time from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  Some of us in this great nation get up and get after it in the morning; others sleep in.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  I get young guys that say I’ll do anything.  I just want to be a part of it.  I’ll clean stalls.  I’ll wash pots, and I’ll get up and be right there.  And I look at them and say, we’ll test you on that.  I would say they have to have a passion for it.  It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job.  The most important thing is to have a complete, unquestionable passion for the industry and what you want to do.

Then I tell them, don’t get married.  You can have a trainer’s license or a marriage license.  You can have one or another, but not both at the same time.  Then dedicate yourself completely, completely to the game, and if you work, it will probably come.  Treat your owners good, they’ll get you the horses.

You guys have been great all week.  I really appreciate you.  Thank you.  Any superlatives you’d like to use on Oxbow, just feel free.

THE MODERATOR:  Gary is finishing up a live shot and should be in here any minute.  Gary Stevens is here.

I don’t know how I should phrase this, Gary, but I believe you’re the first grandfather to win a Triple Crown race?

GARY STEVENS:  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.  I guarantee I’m the first grandfather winner of the Triple Crown race.

THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations.

GARY STEVENS:  Thank you.

D. WAYNE LUKAS:  When did you think you had it won?

GARY STEVENS:  Just to reiterate that he ran a huge race in the Kentucky Derby.  I don’t consider that we were really part of that fast, early pace.  That was the leader that day, and we were five lengths off of it.  This horse has such a high cruising speed that he’ll fool you a little bit.  I was very comfortable and he was very comfortable in the Kentucky Derby.              When I hit the half‑mile pole, the leader was out there a ways.  Normandy Invasion came up outside of me, and that forced me to move possibly a bit earlier than I wanted.  But when you’re in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t give anything up.  You try to get away with what you can.

I won’t say it backfired on us, but I learned a heck of a lot about Oxbow, what he did the final 1/8 mile when he was breathing fire a little bit.  Everybody else caved in, he didn’t.  Had a heck of a time pulling him up after the race, and it showed me how much heart he had.

Came back on Monday, breezed him for Wayne, and we didn’t want anything fancy.  Just quiet, nice, relaxed.  He warmed up relaxed, he worked relaxed, he pulled up relaxed, and that’s all I was looking for, and I think that’s all coach was looking for.  I stayed away all week long, and I’ve been watching on TV a little bit, and I was liking what I was seeing when he was galloping, and I loved the prerace warm‑up today.

We had talked about strategy, and I didn’t expect to be on the lead as I said earlier.  In these classic races, you don’t give up anything that they give you free, and they gave me a free three‑quarters of a mile today, and I was smiling pretty good midway down the back side.

I actually thought about Wayne up in the grandstands.  I knew he had to be looking at those fractions and pleased with what he was seeing.  When I saw Oxbow’s ears fluttering back and forth at the 3/8 pole, I thought of the 1988 Kentucky Derby came back to me.  I said kick from here.  Try to get some separation from the field.  I don’t know how much separation we got from the 3/8 pole to the quarter pole, but I had a lost horse, and I pretty much rode him like I did Skyring the race before.

I jumped on him at the quarter pole and said let’s go now, and put it to him and just try and last as we did with winning colors.  But we did more than last today.  We pulled up.  He wasn’t a tired horse.  He was a happy horse.  He enjoyed the celebration, I think as much as ‑‑ well, maybe not as much as Wayne and I, but he was enjoying it.

 

Q.  What is it like winning another Triple Crown race for Wayne?  You won your first one back in 1988.

GARY STEVENS:  Well, that first one is one I’ll never forget, because it put me on the map with winning colors.  Wayne put me on the map.  When you win that first classic your phone starts ringing, people want you.  That’s why I got the phone call from Oxbow this year dating all the way back to 1988.

But I’m not going to lie to you, to win a Classic at 50 years old after seven‑years retirement, it doesn’t get any better than this.  This is super, super sweet, and it happened for the right guy.  All the stars were aligned.  I couldn’t be more pleased winning this thing.  It’s even more special winning it for Wayne Lukas and his team.

 

Q.  Have you ever had one moment of doubt since you came back January 1st?

GARY STEVENS:  I haven’t had any doubt at all until this past three weeks.  I went out from California to Keeneland, and only won three races during that short meet, which wasn’t bad.  It was one of the most competitive boutique meetings in the United States.  So I was happy enough with my three wins there.       But shifting my tack to Churchill Downs, I have not won a race since leaving Keeneland.  It’s been a month since I won my last race; granted, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities in the right place.

But Oxbow two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was one of my best finishes, a horse that really went out and performed for me.  I thought maybe my business was lacking, maybe this was a mistake.  I’ve been questioning myself, and when riders go through slumps, I don’t care if you’re 15 years old or 30 years old, you start changing your stirrups on your saddles and this and that.

I told myself, you know what, if it’s meant to be, it’s not going to matter where your stirrups are, it’s going to matter what horse you’re riding.

When I won on Skyring, a $50 horse just prior to the Preakness, you don’t know what kind of boost that gave me going into the Preakness, and it was for Wayne Lukas.  And I thought to myself, man, this guy, it doesn’t matter what the form looks like on a horse.  You go out there with confidence, and you can throw an upset.

I went out on the turf course to be legged up on Oxbow, and I couldn’t have had more confidence.  After the prerace warm‑up, I was actually joking with Donna Brothers in the post period, and I said, can I borrow that microphone and take it with me and interview Joel halfway through the race?  And she said you’re not getting this microphone.

But I was very relaxed, and very happy, and it’s just funny how things go.  But one race can really boost your spirits.  Doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 50.

 

Q.  (Indiscernible)?

GARY STEVENS:  I fully expected that Orb possibly departing and Will Take Charge would be making a run.  But I came into the stretch so loaded.  I couldn’t believe that no one challenged me going into the far turn, but when no one did, I said, I think everybody’s in trouble right now.  I expected to maybe see a horse come up and shadow me the last 50 yards, at least get up on my hip, on Oxbow’s hip.

When that didn’t happen, when I didn’t see anybody by 16th pole and Oxbow was not responding to the presence of another horse, normally a horse can hear before myself and with their vision, another horse comes up and they’ll kind of jump in it.  A lot of critics are going to think that I’m full of it saying this, but I won with a little something left, believe it or not.

 

Q.  Every win that Oxbow has been on the lead like you won today.  Is that his M.O.?  Is that what we’re going to see from here on out, do you think?

GARY STEVENS:  I wouldn’t think so.  The thing about being on the lead, he rated himself today.  Wayne Lukas has this whole thing he tells jockeys with instructions, take about five pounds of pressure on those reins, put a little smile on their face and give them some confidence.  That kept ringing through my ear while I was in the starting gate today, just making him comfortable and put a smile on his face.  And he had that smile on his face for a long ways today.  And as long as he’s comfortable in a rhythm, and he was very comfortable today.  He rated himself.  I was just a passenger.

So another thing that I’ll answer right now, because I know the questions are going to be coming, what about the Belmont?  This horse has that happy kind of pace, and anybody that wants to come and tangle with him early on, bring it on.  You’re going to get in trouble if you tangle with him.  That’s all I can say.

I know Coach well enough, and I’m thinking along the same lines.  If he acts as happy in the morning as he did in the Winner’s Circle, I can’t wait for three weeks from now.

 

Q.  While you were doing TV, did you ever think, and you were watching your colleagues, your brethren sit here and answer these questions and watch them celebrate wins in the Triple Crown series, did you ever think you’d be back here doing this?

GARY STEVENS:  Well, I’ll just say that my great friend Mike Smith, who is more like a brother than a friend to me, we’ve been through so much together over the years, watching what he has done since my retirement over the last seven years and to continue on as he has at a high level was a big inspiration for me.  Just did an interview from a French television station as well, and watching Olivier Peslier do what he’s done.  I’ve ridden with him for so many years and watch him ride at the level he does, both of those guys gave me a lot of inspiration.

I thought back to Lester Piggott and his comeback in the Breeders’ Cup and what he did, I won’t go where he was and came out of retirement and pulled off what he did with Royal Academy, but you don’t forget what you’re doing.  You’re only as good as the horses you ride and the people that you ride for.  And I rode for what I consider to be one of the greatest trainers of all time today.

I didn’t know you were standing there still.  Oh, all right.  I love you, Wayne.

THE MODERATOR:  Gary, thank you so much.  Great job, Gary Stevens.

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117,203 pack Pimlico for historic Preakness day

Posted on 18 May 2013 by WNST Staff

OXBOW PUTS MAKES HISTORY FOR CONNECTIONS IN PREAKNESS VICTORY

KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER ORB DISAPPOINTS AS ODDS-ON FAVORITE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-18-13 – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas made history at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday when he saddled Oxbow for a front-running upset victory in the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1). The 15-1 long shot gave his 77-year-old trainer his sixth Preakness victory, as well as his 14th triumph in a Triple Crown event.

Lukas, who had been tied with legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons since saddling Commendable for a Belmont Stakes victory in 2000, became the winningest trainer in Triple Crown history.

Overlooked by the bettors, who made Kentucky Derby winner Orb their 3-5 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds, Oxbow was in control throughout the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown on his way to victory by 1 ¾ lengths under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.

Shug McGaughey-trained Orb, who finished 9 ¾ lengths ahead of Oxbow while winning the Derby by 3 ½ lengths, was never a factor in the Preakness, finishing nine lengths behind the winner, who was one of three 3-year-olds representing Lukas.

A crowd of 117,203 flocked into Pimlico, the fourth highest mark in the history of the event. The day included the fifth annual InfieldFest which featured concerts by six bands, including headliners Pitbull and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The 13-race card generated an all-sources handle of $81,940,233. The handle ranked as the sixth best for Pimlico’s signature day.

“It was a fantastic day to cap what was a wonderful weekend of racing and entertainment,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “I challenged my team to match last year’s record-setting afternoon and they answered the call. The initial feedback on the concerts is positive and the racing office put together a quality card from bottom to top.”

Oxbow, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, joined the Lukas-trained Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999) as a Preakness champion.

Oxbow’s triumph also created history for Stevens, who became the oldest jockey, at 50, to ride a Preakness winner. Eldon Nelson was 45 when he rode Bee Bee Bee to an upset win in 1972.

The Lukas-trained winner, who ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.54, also made more history for his owner, Calumet Farm, which celebrated its record eighth Preakness success and first since Forward Pass’s victory in 1968.

Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, finished second Saturday while tracking the pace early and steadily gaining on Oxbow in the stretch before running out of ground. Mylute, the fifth-place Derby finisher, closed from last to finish third, another half-length back under Rosie Napravnik, who rode the first winner of her career at Pimlico in June 2005 as a 17-year-old.

Orb, the shortest-priced Preakness favorite since Big Brown (2008), finished a half-length ahead of Goldencents, who was saddled by Doug O’Neill, who visited the winners’ circle last year with I’ll Have Another.  He was followed by Departing, Will Take Charge, Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five. Will Take Charge and Titletown Five are also trained by Lukas, who has been represented by a record 40 Preakness starters.

PREAKNESS STAKES QUOTES

D. Wayne Lukas (trainer, Oxbow, winner) – “What a story this is. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and I’m just so happy for Mr. (Brad) Kelley. He’s trying to revitalize Calumet, and now Calumet is back in a Classic race. That’s just very gratifying.  It’s been a while (Charismatic, 1999), but it never gets old. I have great respect for the Phipps family and Shug (McGaughey), but I was telling one of your colleagues that I get paid to spoil dreams.

“You can’t mail them in, so we keep trying. It’s a different surface, a different scenario and a different time. You gotta line ‘em up  and run ‘em.

“Gary knows the horse a lot better than I do, so I told him to just go ahead and ride  him. I told him ‘you might find yourself up there; if you do just get in a high cruising speed, and it worked.’   It doesn’t hurt to have a Hall of Famer or two (Stevens and Mike Smith) on your horses. I had good riders and I knew my horses trained well. When they threw up that 48 (half mile) and 1:13 (six furlongs), I said watch out. Unbelievable!

“I kind of lost track of my other two horses (Titletown Five and Will Take Charge) because this guy was in front almost the whole way.”

 

Gary Stevens (jockey, Oxbow, winner) – “We talked about strategy and I didn’t expect to be on the lead. In these Classic races you don’t give up anything you get for free. They gave me a free three-quarters of a mile today. I was smiling pretty good midway down the backside. I actually thought about Wayne (Lukas) up in the grandstand. I knew he would be looking at those fractions and be pleased with what he was seeing.”

“I jumped on him at the quarter pole and said, “let’s go now and just try and last.’ We did more than last today. When we pulled up he wasn’t a tired horse.”

 

Eddie Plesa Jr. (trainer, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “I’m very pleased with the way he ran. He ran his race. He simply just got beat by a horse that was trained perfectly by Wayne Lukas. We did run our race, but we just weren’t lucky enough to win.”

 

John Velazquez (jockey, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “My horse ran awesome. The speed didn’t develop the way I thought it would. I thought Oxbow would be third or fourth, then all of a sudden I look up and Bob Baffert’s horse (Govenor Charlie) gets left and Oxbow was on the lead all by himself. I worried then about my horse, but he ran great.”

 

Tom Amoss (trainer, Mylute, 3rd) – “My horse ran great. The pace was a disappointment up front. I thought there would be more speed; it didn’t materialize. We were probably at the biggest disadvantage of all, coming from way back and being the widest in the race. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.  I actually look at this like a missed opportunity because my horse ran a big race today.”

 

Rosie Napravnik (jockey, Mylute, 3rd) – “He was very sluggish out of the gate for the first quarter of a mile. Then he got going. This is a tough course. I was too far back to see who the leaders were. This was a tough pace to follow. But he ran great down the lane and closed well.”

 

Shug McGaughey (trainer, Orb, 4th) – “I’m disappointed. It was a great opportunity. We were 3-5 and we finished fourth. I would be disappointed any time you had this kind of opportunity and didn’t get it done. This was quite a run for a couple of weeks. We’ll pack it up and go back home and see what kind of horse we’ve got down the road and  figure it out from there.

“I don’t think two weeks had anything to do with it. Oxbow ran back in two weeks. Itsmyluckyday ran back in two weeks, Mylute ran back in two weeks. I just think he got himself in a position where he wasn’t comfortable and then without the pace scenario in front of him; they really weren’t spread out a little bit more than maybe I’d hoped. That probably affected him more than anything else.

“The pace was slower than I anticipated. I thought the pace would be quicker.  I thought maybe they would speed it up a little bit but they didn’t.  I still thought we would close into it, but it just wasn’t his day. He was just never real comfortable once he got down in there.  I’m  disappointed. I’ll probably be way more disappointed tomorrow but I know the game. It is highs and lows, probably more lows than highs. We had a great run two weeks ago. My hat’s off to Wayne to win his sixth Preakness. That’s pretty remarkable.”

 

Joel Rosario (jockey, Orb, 4th) – “He was in a good spot early in the race. They were going slow up front and he was fine. When I got to the half-mile pole, he had a hard time keeping up. I used my stick to try to get him going. He usually takes you there. He always runs hard. But today he never took off. He just steadied. Today was not his day.”

 

Doug O’Neill (trainer, Goldencents, 5th) – “I’m doing great. I thought Kevin (Krigger) had him in a great spot and when the winner kicked there, we just couldn’t keep up with him. I’m very proud of Kevin and the horse. We’re going to be fine. We’ve got a bright future. Definitely, he belongs among these horses and we’re going to be in good shape. We’ll be OK. I’ll have to talk to (co-owner) Glen (Sorgenstein) and we’ll put our heads together and see what’s next.”

 

Kevin Krigger (jockey, Goldencents, 5th) – “He didn’t run his race today. We were expecting him to run very well here, but it just doesn’t happen sometimes.”

 

Al Stall Jr. (trainer, Departing, 6th) – “He had no excuses. It looked like he got over the track OK. He just didn’t go on with it like he usually does.”

 

Brian Hernandez Jr. (jockey, Departing, 6th) – “I had a great trip. On the second turn, Orb was inside of me and we spurted away from him and got up to third. But he was just a little dull today. I don’t know why. It seemed like he handled the track OK. But it was a little deep.”

 

Mike Smith (jockey, Will Take Charge, 7th) – “He just really struggled with the racetrack. His legs were going everywhere from the word ‘go.’ He just couldn’t get a hold of it at all.”

 

Bob Baffert (trainer, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “If they would have yelled “about-face” I would have won easy at the wire. My horse missed the break and never really was in the race. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and Wayne (Lukas); that’s awesome.”

 

Martin Garcia (jockey, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “He did not like the track at all. He was very uncomfortable all the way around.”

 

Julien Leparoux (jockey, Titletown Five, 9th) – “(Gary) Stevens took the lead early, and I was just kind of sitting there. I felt like I had a lot of horse under me when we turned for home. But he just kind of flattened out in the stretch.”

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Lukas horses, Itsmyluckyday arrive at Pimlico for Preakness

Posted on 14 May 2013 by WNST Staff

LUKAS AND TRIO OF PREAKNESS HOPEFULS ARRIVE AT PIMLICO

ITSMYLUCKYDAY SHIPS IN FROM MONMOUTH PARK

 

BALTIMORE, 05-14-13 – Five-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas arrived at Pimlico Race Course with his three-horse contingent of  Oxbow, Titletown Five and Will Take Charge at 4:55 p.m. Tuesday following a grueling 12 ½-hour van ride from Churchill Downs.

“They’re better than I am probably. It’s a long little trip.” said the 77-year-old Hall of Fame trainer, who rode in one of the two vans that transported his three hopefuls for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes and six other horses from Kentucky.

Will Take Charge and Oxbow, the eighth- and sixth-place Kentucky Derby finishers, respectively, walked off the first trailer. Titletown Five emerged from the second, and all three looked no worse for wear. Both Oxbow and Will Take Charge are coming back on two weeks of rest after solid performances at Churchill Downs on May 4.

“We’re here in pretty good shape,” said Lukas, who dismissed any notion that through numbers alone he might be in control of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with three of the nine probable starters.

“I don’t think I’m in control unless Shug scratches,” Lukas said, referring to Shug McGaughey, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Orb. “If he’ll scratch, I’ll feel better about the whole race. That’s an exceptional horse, and in great hands. It’s going to be difficult to beat him. His work this week was great, and I know Shug’s very confident with him.”

Oxbow worked at Churchill on Monday for jockey Gary Stevens, going four furlongs in 49 4/5 seconds. Will Take Charge went in 48 1/5 seconds in his final workout for the Preakness. He gets a rider switch to Mike Smith for the Preakness.

Stevens (Point Given, Silver Charm) and Smith (Prairie Bayou) have three winners in the Preakness between them.

Titletown Five, owned by a group that includes Paul Hornung and Willie Davis of Green Bay Packers fame, ran fourth in the Derby Trial on April 27. A win might have sent the son of Tiznow onto the Derby, but that became a moot point when he failed to qualify under the new points system.

Oxbow won the LeComte (G3) in January at Fair Grounds and was second in the Rebel behind Will Take Charge at Oaklawn before finishing a troubled fifth in the Arkansas Derby. Will Take Charge’s other win this year came in the ungraded Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Jan. 21.

“I think we’ll be effective,” Lukas said. “You can’t mail it in. It’s a different surface, a shorter race, the configuration of the track’s a little bit different. You have to run uphill at the end of it. I think we’re learning a little bit about them (his three horses) every time. If you look at the aerial view of the Derby, Will Take Charge ran one hell of a race.”

Lukas has started 37 runners in the Preakness and won in his first attempt with Codex in 1980. His last winner was Charismatic in 1999 after scores by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994) and Timber Country (1995). Titletown Five would be the first colt to win in which Lukas had a share of the ownership as well.

Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Preakness hopeful Itsmyluckyday arrived by van from Monmouth Park at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby, was accompanied on the ride to Pimlico by assistant trainer Frankie Perez.

“Everything went good. He’s so professional. Nothing bothers him,” said Perez, who has worked for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for 20 years.

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