Louisville Magazine

Breeders Cup 2018

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#BC18 BREEDERSCUP.COM 17 golfing career and was a thoroughbred breeder as well. Enberg, who hosted the inaugural Breeders' Cup telecast in 1984 for NBC, was cited last year. "To get an award at this stage is very humbling," Lukas says, "and I feel very good about it." Recognition of Lukas will highlight the opening of 16,000 square feet of new and renovated exhibition space as part of an ambitious $6.5 million project at the museum. In addition, Lukas will be the first trainer celebrated by Maker's Mark by having his likeness on one of its elegant bottles. Each sells for $400, with proceeds benefitting the Derby Museum and Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Ky. If the time to salute Lukas is ideal, so is the place. After all, he counts four Kentucky Derby victories among his 14 Triple Crown triumphs. He rattled off an incredible six Triple Crown wins in a row from the time Tabasco Cat took the 1994 Preakness through the 1996 Derby, when Grindstone barely outslugged Baffert's Cavonnier. Lukas' personal journey is extraordinary. He was born in Antigo, Wis., and grew up on a dairy farm. He developed an interest in horses, but knew little of horse racing. "I didn't grow up with it," he says. "I wasn't born in a stall in Lexington." He earned his master's degree in education from the University of Wisconsin before teaching and coaching at the high school level for nine years. His interest in horses, though, was too keen to be denied. He began training quarter horses in California in 1968 and oversaw 23 quar- ter horse champions before he turned to thoroughbreds full-time in 1978. He led all North American trainers in earnings five years later, the first of 14 occasions he would do so. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1999. "I look back and I reflect that maybe I was able to raise the bar a little bit. I also thought that through that run, through all those good years even up to now, we've been a little bit of an ambassador in so many ways," Lukas says. Todd Pletcher ranks foremost among the top conditioners developed by Lukas. So many of Lukas' former assistants went on to enjoy success on their own that he is known as "e Coach." Pletcher says of his former mentor, "I think he's the most influen- tial trainer on the industry of all time. He changed the way the game is played in a lot of ways, played it at the highest level for a number of years, and the Breeders' Cup is the greatest example of that." Pletcher adds, "Wayne sort of pioneered the larger stables and taking advantage of being able to run in multiple places and taking horses to the right place." Lukas recognized the vast potential of the Breeders' Cup from the outset — and made an indelible mark. "We've won when we should," Lukas says, "and we've won when we shouldn't." Lukas captured the Juvenile Fillies six times, from Twilight Ridge in 1985 to Take Charge Brandi in 2014. He reached the Juvenile winner's circle five times with horses ranging from Capote in 1986 to Boston Harbor a decade later. He delivered with a maiden when 15-1 Hightail hightailed it home in the 2012 Juvenile Sprint. Spain produced the second-highest payoff in Cup history when she gave Lukas his fourth Distaff score and rewarded $2 players with $113.80. Gulch (1988) and Orientate (2002) made him a two-time winner of the Sprint. Cat ief (1999) rewarded his efforts in the Classic. He won on the grass, too, with Steinlein in the 1999 Mile. As much as Lukas is intent on adding to his legend, he's reached a time in life when he can savor all that transpired. "It has been an unbelievable ride," he says, with obvious contentment in his voice. To put his record into perspective, he doubled the win total of Shug Mc- Gaughey and Bill Mott, two more Hall of Famers, who share fourth place. Lu- kas stands second to Baffert in Breeders' Cup earnings with $22,580,520. Lukas, 83, a former high school bas- ketball coach and quarter horse trainer, joins South African golfer Gary Player and the late broadcaster Dick Enberg as recipients of the Sports and Racing Ex- cellence Award. Player, saluted in 2009, won nine majors during his illustrious Breeders' Cup Photo ©

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