LUKAS STILL SMILING AFTER ‘GRATIFYING’ VICTORY BY OXBOW

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, May 23, 2013) – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was still in high spirits at his barn at Churchill Downs on Thursday, five days after Oxbow’s 1 ¾-length victory in the Preakness (Grade I) at odds of more than 15-1.

“It’s always fun to win one of those and it’s what we all get up for and try to achieve,” said Lukas, who will turn 78 on Sept. 2. “It validated my belief in the horse, too. I always thought he had an unfortunate spring with the way he kept drawing and getting parked outside. To see it all come full cycle, especially with Gary (Stevens) in the irons, it was really gratifying.”

Oxbow’s victory in the Preakness was the record 14th Triple Crown win for Lukas, who was previously tied with “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons. Lukas scored his 13th Triple Crown win in the 2000 Belmont (GI) with Commendable, who won at odds of nearly 19-1.

“I never dwelt on the record too much,” Lukas said. “I think the most significant thing for me was to be in the same company with Sunny Fitzsimmons. I found it interesting that he won his last (Triple Crown race) at 82. He meant so much to the industry, so to be with him all those years was enough for me.

“I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my first and maybe more,” Lukas said. “It stirred up a lot of old relationships and friendships. I got hundreds of voicemails and texts. It’s special to have so many people come forward. There were a lot of people pulling for us.”

Oxbow gave Stevens his ninth Triple Crown win and it was the record 18th for Calumet Farm, now in the hands of Brad Kelley. Calumet’s last Triple Crown win prior to Oxbow came in the 1968 Preakness with Forward Pass.

“Our goal is to put Calumet back as a farm of prominence where it once was,” Lukas said.

Lukas also saddled Will Take Charge and Titletown Five for last Saturday’s Preakness. Will Take Charge, who finished seventh, will join stablemate Oxbow in the Belmont (GI) starting gate on June 8. No plans have been made for Titletown Five, but Lukas said he will not run in the 1 ½-mile Belmont.

THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS

Thursday, May 23
• 9 races from 12:45-4:59 p.m. EDT (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
• Feature (Race 7 at 3:57 p.m.): $52,000 alw, f & m, 5 F (T)
• $5,588 Pick 6 Carryover (Races 4-9, 2:21 p.m.)
• $14,060 Super Hi-5 Carryover (Race 9, 4:59 p.m.)
• Senior’s Day in Millionaires Row 4 & Skye Terrace 5 ($19 for age 60 & up; includes admission, program, reserved seat & buffet lunch)

Friday, May 24
• 11 races from 2:45-7:54 p.m. (Gates 1:30 p.m.)
• Feature (Race 10 at 7:24 p.m.): $57,000 alw, 3 & up, 1 1/16 M
• City’s Best Happy Hour! Drink specials ($2 Budweiser/Bud Light; $3 Stella Artois; $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria), food trucks (Booty’s Diner, Genius in a Box & Louisville Dessert Truck) & live music (Mojoflo) in The Plaza from 4-7 p.m.

Saturday, May 25
• 11 races from 12:45-6 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
• Feature (Race 10 at 5:30 p.m.): $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII), 3 & up, 1 ½ M (T)

Sunday, May 26
• 10 races from 12:45-5:29 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
• Feature: $54,000 alw/opt clm, 3 & up, 6 ½ F
• Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on The Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Games, crafts, entertainment & Churchill Charlie appearance. Special activity includes Memorial Day military display (interactive Humvee), letter writing to armed forces & crafting paper U.S. flags. Rock climbing wall for age 18 & up.

Monday, May 27
• 11 races from 12:45-6 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
• Feature: $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII), f & m, 6 F
• Free general admission for active or retired military
• Track bugler Steve Buttleman to perform patriotic songs following “Call to the Post” for each race.

IOYA BIGTIME BACK AT IT IN SATURDAY’S LOUISVILLE HANDICAP

Team Block’s Ioya Bigtime, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Cup Turf (GIII), finished a disappointing ninth in the Elkhorn (GII) as the favorite, but he will look to get back on track in Saturday’s $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII).

“We haven’t really been able to come up with (an excuse),” trainer Chris Block said. “It was nothing physical. Maybe we tried to slow things down too much. They were awfully slow fractions and we might have throttled him down too much. I don’t know for sure, though. I’m kind of just putting a line through the race and we’re back at it on Saturday.”

Ioya Bigtime set the early pace in the 1 ½-mile Elkhorn and ran the opening half-mile in :52.32 over the Keeneland turf course, which was rated “firm.”

“He’s doing really well since and if he wasn’t then we wouldn’t be running him Saturday,” Block said. “We’ll just forget about the last one and go into Saturday with some confidence the horse will go out and throw a good race.”

Block added that Ioya Bigtime will be close to the pace, but doesn’t need the lead.

“I’ll leave it up to the horse and (jockey) Jeffrey (Sanchez),” Block said. “He always breaks pretty sharp. If he happens to be on the lead without too much encouragement, then that’s fine. If someone else wants it, then that’s fine and we’ll lay off them.”

Ioya Bigtime is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs from Arlington Park on Friday morning with assistant trainer Drew Coontz. Block will not be in attendance on Saturday.

FORT LARNED’S HALF-BROTHER MAKES CAREER DEBUT ON FRIDAY

Janis Whitham’s homebred Lent, a half-brother to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Fort Larned, will make his career debut in Friday’s seventh race at Churchill Downs.

“We’ll get him started and let him improve,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “He’s a different horse than his brother – different conformation and different type of horse. I hope he can run as fast.”

Wilkes, who has saddled two winners at the 2013 Spring Meet, has won with six of 250 first-time starters in his career. But Wilkes is more concerned with races down the line than with getting a horse to win at first asking.

“It’s all about developing the horse to me and not putting everything into the horse’s first race,” Wilkes said. “I like to build some asset value in the horse and let him develop and let him be as good as he can be when he matures.”

A 3-year-old bay son of Pulpit, Lent also is a half-brother to Izarra, who finished second in the Oak Leaf (GI) and third in the Del Mar Debutante (GI) in 2007.

“He was very close to starting late in his 2-year-old year,” Wilkes said. “He had a little issue in an ankle, so we stopped on him and gave him some time. Now he’s ready to go.”

Lent’s older brother Fort Larned, who is being pointed toward the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 15, is scheduled to breeze five furlongs Friday morning prior to the renovation break.

DOWN THE STRETCH

Trainer Dallas Stewart said Belmont (GI) hopeful Golden Soul, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), will work toward the third jewel of the Triple Crown on Friday or Saturday at Churchill Downs. …

Nominations for the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) and Opening Verse close Saturday. The $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up is scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 8. The $65,000-added Opening Verse for 3-year-olds and up will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 1. …

Anusara’s victory in Sunday’s eighth race was the 350th win beneath the Twin Spires for trainer Greg Foley. He ranks seventh in the all-time standings. …

Wine Princess, a chestnut daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, breezed six furlongs at Churchill Downs on Thursday in 1:12.80. Trainer Steve Margolis said she is under consideration for the $175,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs on June 15.

CITY’S BEST HAPPY HOUR! EVERY FRIDAY

Churchill Downs will host the City’s Best Happy Hour! in The Plaza every Friday from 4-7 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet.

Drink specials include $2 Budweiser/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria.

There also will be a variety of food trucks from the Louisville Food Truck Association and live music on the Plaza Stage by Mojoflo.

FAMILY FUN DAY ON SUNDAY

Churchill Downs will host Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger on the Plaza Balcony every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet.

Kiddos age 12 and younger are invited to enjoy games, crafts and visits from Churchill Downs’ popular mascot Churchill Charlie.

This week’s special activity includes a Memorial Day military display, including an interactive High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, Humvee or Hummer). Children also can write letters to members of the armed forces and craft paper U.S. flags.

The adults can have fun, too. There’ll be a rock climbing wall for folks age 18 and up.

The first of 10 races on Sunday is 12:45 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.

Churchill Downs’ Junior Jockey Club, located inside the Gate 10 entrance, also entertains children age 12 and under on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed when Downs After Dark occurs on June 15, June 22 and June 29). The “Kids Zone” is dedicated to providing fun for the youngsters at Churchill Downs, but all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY RACING ON MEMORIAL DAY

Churchill Downs will stage a special 11-race Memorial Day program on Monday. The first of 11 races on the holiday program is 12:45 p.m., and the featured event is the Grade III, $100,000-added Winning Colors, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

All active and retired members of the United States armed forces will be admitted free of charge with proof of identification.

Churchill Downs popular track bugler Steve Buttleman is sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags and will perform patriotic melodies following the “Call to the Post” for each race.

Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and the final race is expected to run at 6 p.m.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT . . .

Six horses recorded the fastest times of the meet for races at their respective distance: Silver Summation (five furlongs in :57.20 on Thursday, May 16); Gentlemen’s Bet (six furlongs in 1:07.90 on Friday, May 17); A Time to Love (five furlongs on turf in :56.98 on Friday, May 17); Treasured Up (1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:15.16) on Saturday, May 18); Tycoon (one mile in 1:34.29 on Sunday, May 19); and No Distinction (6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.37 on Sunday, May 19). … Jockeys Corey Lanerie and Shaun Bridgmohan recorded four-win days. Lanerie won with four his 10 mounts on Friday, May 17, while Bridgmohan connected with four of his nine on Saturday, May 18. Lanerie also had a three-win day on Sunday, May 19 to end the four-day week with eight wins (one more than Bridgmohan). Bridgmohan leads Lanerie in the season standings, 24 to 18, through the first 13 days of the 38-day meet. … Lanerie run of victories leapfrogged him past Keith Allen and Willie Martinez in the all-time Churchill Downs jockey standings. He is 14th with 437 local victories. … Trainers Dallas Stewart (Friday, May 17), Steve Asmussen (Saturday, May 18) and Mike Maker (Sunday, May 19) had training doubles. … The first of Stewart’s two wins on Friday, May 17 was his 200th career win at Churchill Downs. … Asmussen, Maker and Ron Moquett saddled three winners last week. … Moquett’s 3-year-old colt Gentlemen’s Bet was awarded a 107 Beyer Speed Figure by the folks at Daily Racing Form. Other top winning figs last week: No Distinction (93), Silver Summation (92), Funny Proposition (90), Livi Makenzie (90) and Treasured Up (90). … Moquett reports that Gentlemen’s Bet is possible for the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) at six furlongs on Saturday, June 1. Assistant trainer Norman Casse said Funny Proposition is under consideration for the $175,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) over 1 1/8 miles on Saturday, June 15. … Treasured Up, third in the Grade III Regret last fall, collected the first stakes win of her 12-race career with a come-from-behind victory in the inaugural $64,652 Keertana on Saturday, May 17, narrowly defeating 5-2 favorite Qushchi-GB by a head. Ridden by Bridgmohan, Treasured Up covered 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:15.16 for trainer Al Stall Jr. and owner B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm LLC. … Mellow Fellow’s upset win at odds of 66.80-1 in the sixth race on Saturday, May 18 triggered meet-high payoffs for $2 Win ($135.60), $2 Exacta ($1,268.60) and 10-cent Superfecta ($4,301.94). John McKee rode the winner for owner Ripplewood Farm and trainer Tim Richardson. … Watercolors’ 12 ½-length triumph in the Friday, May 17 nightcap was the most decisive victory of the meet. … Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who scored his ninth Triple Crown win Saturday aboard Oxbow in the Preakness, is headed back to his Southern California home to ride at Hollywood Park. Stevens, 50, cleaned out his locker in the Jockey’s Room on Sunday, May 19, but said that he could return to Churchill Downs for select stakes engagements. Locally, he was winless from 21 mounts with three seconds, but rode only one favorite. His mounts’ average odds were 11.61-1 and their finish position was 5.8.