- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2000

BALTIMORE
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas' white bridles are feared nationwide, and jockey Pat Day owns the Kentucky circuit. However, the tandem's greatest success has come in the Preakness Stakes.
Lukas and Day have won five Preaknesses each, including three together. Now they're paired again for Saturday's 125th running with High Yield, who figures to be among the leaders.
Lukas entered the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame last year, and Day has already earned a future first-ballot entry. Together they have won 325 races worth $23,789,229 over 15 years. The 30 percent victory margin surprised both when it was noted recently by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"I was dumbfounded by the numbers," Day said. "That's astronomical."
It is an interesting mix of personalities. Lukas likes to wear white cowboy hats and is always the center of attention. He speaks in basketball terms from his old high school coaching days and is a close friend of several college coaches like Indiana's Bob Knight. Day was a self-admitted hell-raiser until his 1984 religious conversion while watching evangelist Jimmy Swaggert on a hotel television. Now he's the president of the Jockey's Guild.
Each has unflappable confidence and enough experience to shake off a disappointing 15th-place Derby finish. Lukas has always admired Day's even temperament.
"I love the serenity and confidence and peace Pat brings," Lukas said. "So many times these riders are emotional and run high and low. You'll get guys who get real hot and then get moody. Pat never does that. You can depend on Pat being the same every day. He doesn't always ride perfect, but he does a heck of a lot of good. We've had great luck together."
Day appreciates that Lukas often lets him ride the race his way.
"We don't do a lot of second-guessing of each other's ability," he said. "I have the utmost respect for Mr. Lukas' ability to bring a horse up to a race, and he has confidence in my ability."
The 1985 Preakness helped launch both of their careers. Lukas had won the 1980 Preakness, but Codex's controversial victory over Genuine Risk in a rough race tarnished the victory. Tank's Prospect's 1985 Preakness in track-record time was Day's first Triple Crown victory and redeemed Lukas.
"It was very, very helpful to my career," Day said. "Winning races of this magnitude is a win-win situation. It's hard to quantify how much, but the exposure can do nothing but help your career."
Day then rode Lukas' Lady's Secret to 1986 Horse of the Year with seven stakes victories, the last filly to win the award. Day and Lukas then endured a sporadic relationship before regaining momentum in 1994 when Tabasco Cat won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and Timber Country the juvenile Eclipse Award.
Timber Country's Preakness victory was Lukas' favorite. The colt showed little as a 3-year-old, and Lukas was taking grief for having yet another juvenile champion that failed to develop into a Triple Crown contender. After finishing third as the Derby favorite, Lukas gave Day a rare pre-race pep talk.
"I said, 'Pat, this is the day. If you have to go in there and take a cold shower or get a B-12 shot or play Knute Rockne tapes, today's the day I want you to come riding like a wild man,' " Lukas said. "He rode a wonderful race."
Day weaved Timber Country through three rivals on the turn and two more in the stretch to win by one-half length as the 2-1 favorite. It was a typical move by Lukas and Day. Lukas' five winners have ranged from third to 10th on the final turn of the 1 3/16-mile race. Day was third entering the stretch in four victories but led every step aboard Louis Quatorze (1996).
"You seldom see one of ours come from way out of it," Lukas said. "Our style of training gets our horses into races. It's a rarity when one lays past midpack. Day is a position rider, and we're position trainers."
Day has won a record 11 Breeders' Cups, two Belmonts and one Kentucky Derby in a career of nearly 7,000 victories worth more than $225 million. Still, Day wants to win every race of every day.
"Winning is highly addictive," he said. "The competitive fire burns bright. At Churchill Downs, I ride seven or eight races daily, and I'll be pumped up to win every race."
The same applies to the Preakness, as long as Lukas keeps giving him contenders.
"You can't drive a Volkswagen in a Cadillac race and expect to win," Day said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide