LUKAS IS NUMBER ONE FOR A REASON
The 31st running of the Breeders’ Cup showed some folks what a lot of others already knew about one of the veteran trainers of the game. D. Wayne Lukas has still got game!
As one of the all-time leading trainers in the sport of Thoroughbred racing, the 79-year old Lukas has been around the block a time or two. One thing, however, has always remained consistent about the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup wins. Wayne has never been scared to run his horses if they are right. That was absolutely the case in the November 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when he sent one of his runners out and was rewarded with a huge win.
Coming into the mile and a sixteenth $2 million race, Take Charge Brandi had not fared too well. Having finished eighth at Keeneland in her last start and fifth the time before at Churchill Downs, there was not a lot to like about this two-year old daughter of Giant’s Causeway. With one win in five career starts it was understood why she went to post at odds of 60-1.
“She had trained better than she ever had after the race at Keeneland,” says Lukas. “I told (owner) Willis (Horton) she’s as right as she’s ever been so we need to run her. I believe in running your horses if you can and Willis gave me the go-ahead.”
Lukas’s decision became a stroke of genius just a couple of minutes after the start of race four on the Santa Anita card. Breaking very alertly and jetting to the lead, Take Charge Brandi bolted through the opening quarter mile in :22.22 and covered the half in 45.99. Continuing her run in front of 11 other talented fillies, Brandi took charge down the stretch and cruised home under a hand ride from jockey Victor Espinoza.
“A long time ago Willie Shoemaker told me sometimes the jockey just needs to be the best passenger you can be,” says Lukas. “That is exactly what Victor did and he made a big difference on this horse. We knew she had the talent and he helped bring it out.”
The win by Take Charge Brandi marked the 20th triumph at the Cup for Lukas and placed her in the fast lane on the road to the 2015 Kentucky Oaks. So for those that wondered why D. Wayne Lukas was sending out a horse at 60-1, they figured it out.