Winning Colors hit the wire a diminishing neck in front of Forty Niner, and Lukas jubilantly pumped an arm in the air. In 2:02[1/5], the filly had erased seven years of disappointment for Lukas. "My turn!" he yelled. "My turn!" Outside the office, as Lukas dashed through the door, Jeff spotted his father and grabbed him. "We won it!" said the son.
Klein appeared dazed as he made his way through the crowds, his plaid sport coat and shirt soaked with perspiration. At one point, a group began chanting, "Eu-GENE! Eu-GENE!" He leaned to his wife, Joyce, and whispered, "That's got to be the biggest thrill in a man's life—to win the Kentucky Derby!"
Afterward Klein went from party to interview to party like a man in a trance. "I think I'm a little numb," he said. "I have no feeling of euphoria. I truly believed we were going to win the race, but now that we've done it, I'm not sure I believe it. I'm not quite with it. I won't sleep much tonight. At midnight, my eyes will be wide open, staring at the ceiling."
Klein may not have been euphoric yet, but another Team Lukas bunch surely was. Last February some of his grooms, hotwalkers and exercise riders in California had scraped together $2,000 in cash and bet it all in the Tijuana winter book on Winning Colors to take the Kentucky Derby. The price on the little-known filly: 100-1. So the gang back home won $200,000. "I don't know how many of them will show up for work in the morning," Lukas said.
Winning Colors also earned a $611,200 purse on Saturday, after Klein reportedly turned down an offer of $6 million to $7 million before the race. He did not deny the reports, saying only, "I think she's worth the $575,000 I paid for her. That's really not important. All I know is, she won the first leg. On to Pimlico!"
Given the way she runs, the second leg of racing's Triple Crown—the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21—should be an easier conquest for the filly. Pimlico, with its tighter turns, tends to favor speed horses, and the Preakness is 110 yards shorter than the Derby. Were she to win, Winning Colors would then enter the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes as the only filly in history to arrive at Belmont with a chance to sweep the Triple Crown.
"Winning the Kentucky Derby, she's part of history now," said Klein. In the next five weeks, much bigger history may be made.