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Lukas finally gets a chance at the Triple Crown
Posted: Monday June 07, 1999 06:44 PM
BALTIMORE (CNN/SI) -- The Triple Crown is about the only thing missing in Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' career. And now he finally gets a chance to win it.
When Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic crossed the finish line 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Menifee in Saturday's $1 million Preakness, it put Lukas a Belmont Stakes win away from saddling the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
"I'm really excited about it, the Triple Crown has so many connotations," Lukas said. "I had a Triple Crown before, but not with the same horse."
In 1995, Lukas' Thunder Gulch won the Derby and Belmont, but the colt's stablemate, Timber Country, won the Preakness.
Lukas, who has won 12 Triple Crown races, spent the past two years watching trainer Bob Baffert shoot for the Triple Crown with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet last year. Each time, Baffert's colts were narrowly defeated in the Belmont Stakes.
In Charismatic, Lukas hopes his 3-year-old former claimer can go down in history as the 12th Triple Crown winner.
"I think we can win it," Lukas said.
In fact, Lukas has reserved a spot on his Triple Crown watch for the green and gold colors of Bob and Beverly Lewis, the owners of Charismatic.
"Fourteen years ago, I bought this Triple Crown watch, and it has the colors of every Triple Crown winner on numbers 1 through 11. But 12 o'clock high is blank. I want Bob and Beverly's green and gold to be on 12 o'clock high."
Charismatic may have gone off as the fifth choice in the betting at 8-1, but it wasn't because Lukas wasn't touting the big chestnut son of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.
"We're still raving, but nobody's listening," Lukas said before the race.
Everyone's raving now, and Lukas is back on top of the training world again. A few days before the Derby, Lukas was elected to the Hall of Fame, and then Charismatic and Chris Antley, the jockey he hired on "a hunch," went out and won the Run for the Roses.
That win brought Lukas his fourth Derby win, and Saturday's win brought him his fifth Preakness.
The Belmont Stakes is June 5, and Lukas has won that one three times.
"Even in New York, if the moon is in the right place, the fans will turn out for this one."
Charismatic, who ran in a claiming race in February, where anyone could have purchased him for $62,500, entered the track prancing away like he knew he was going to be the star of the show. And Lukas was well aware of it.
"He had a little strut to his step," Lukas said, "I don't know what I did two weeks ago, but it must have been important. He saddled so beautifully and I told Chris, 'This is as good as human hands can make him. Let's take advantage of every step.'"
Antley did, and now Lukas will get his shot at a Triple Crown with a most unlikely colt.
"We're delighted," Lukas said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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