Why horses make no distinction between him, Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas
Though hardly as well-known as those two, Lake, 37, wins more than anyone else. In 2001 he became the second trainer to win 400 races in a year; in 2002 he's won 351 and is on his way to leading the U.S. in victories for the third straight year.
Why he's a working-class hero in the sport of kings
Lake, raised in Harrisburg, Pa., fell in love with racing when his father, a policeman, took him to the track. He started working odd jobs at East Coast tracks in 1978 and has been a licensed trainer since '87, running cheap to mid-price claimers for owners who can't afford the colts you see on Derby Day. "I've got great owners who let me run their horses where they belong," he says.
Why people wonder what he puts in his oats
Lake wins 32% of his races, a number so high that it has led to rumors he doctors his horses with illegal drugs. Lake did, in fact, serve 25 days in suspensions this year after two of his horses tested positive for the anti-inflammatory banamine (Lake blames the vet), but he says the criticism is nothing more than jealousy. "Put a security guard in my barn," he says. "I'll get out of the business if they catch me."
Will he ever go big time?
Last month at Arlington Park, Lake had his first Breeders' Cup starter, a colt named Thunderello, who finished second in the Sprint. "I'd love to move in that direction," he says of running in richer races, "but I'm not going to leave what I've got here."