D. WAYNE LUKAS
When you think about Kentucky Derby trainers over the last three decades, you automatically think about him. He’s had 44 horses start in the Derby. Four were winners, one finished second, and five others finished third. Only a 9% winning percentage, but 22.7% in the money. He had at least one horse run from 1981 to 2000. As you can see below, he won 3 Derby’s in 5 years during the 90′s. One of the best stretches by a trainer. Things have cooled off since 2000 though. He’s missed 6 out of 11 including last year. His last starter was Dublin in 2010, he finished 7th.
LUKAS DERBY WINNERS
1988: Winning Colors (filly went gate to wire)
1995: Thunder Gulch
CAREER DERBY STATS
He gets in this year with Optimizer as the connections of Mark Valeski pulled out of the race on Tuesday May 1st. Up to today, he had been sitting in 21st on the graded earnings list with $184,708. The English Channel colt has just one win in 9 tries and that lone win came in his maiden debut on the turf last Summer at Saratoga. He finished 2nd in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes on the turf, 3rd in the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity on the all weather behind Dullahan and 8th after a bad start in the BC Juvenile on dirt. His last race as a two year old was a 4th in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. Gemologist won that race. As you can see, he has tried all three surfaces and has been defeated by a few of the horses in the Derby. It wasn’t a good start to the New Year for Optimizer. He started off with a 6th in the Smarty Jones Stakes, then 9th in the Risen Star Stakes. His best result came in the Rebel Stakes where he finished 2nd to Secret Circle, only losing by 3/4 length. He couldn’t follow up with another solid performance. He finished 9th in the Arkansas Derby.
For Lukas to pull off the unthinkable and win the Derby for the 5th time, Optimizer will need a clean trip and run the best race of his life.