Lukas, Stevens still crave reaching the winner's circle

  • Article by: BETH HARRIS , Associated Press
  • Updated: April 30, 2013 - 1:15 AM

The 77-year-old trainer and the 50-year-old jockey haven’t lost any of their will to win the Derby.

hide

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas rode with Kentucky Derby entrant Oxbow and jockey Gary Stevens after a workout Monday.

Photo: CHARLES RIEDEL , Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens know what it’s like hearing the roar of the crowd and inhaling the intoxicating scent from dozens of red roses in the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle.

At their advanced ages, they want to feel it all again.

On Saturday, they will make another run at winning America’s greatest race, and if experience counts, this duo might have an edge.

Lukas and Stevens are teaming up with Oxbow, while the trainer considered the sport’s elder statesman also will saddle Will Take Charge. The colts will be Lukas’ 46th and 47th Derby starters, the most of any trainer in the race’s 138-year history. He has won it four times, but not since 1999.

“I don’t feel any different from when I came in here at 50. There’s still the adrenaline rush. There’s still the enthusiasm,” Lukas said. “The horse is the most important ingredient. You better have the horse and then some luck.”

Stevens has ridden in 18 Derbies and won three times, including twice with Lukas -- 1988 aboard the filly Winning Colors and 1995 with Thunder Gulch. The 50-year-old jockey is four months into a comeback after being retired for seven years.

At 77, Lukas would be the oldest trainer to win the Derby.

“The karma is good between us,” Lukas said. “The experience factor for me is so big here. With 20-horse fields, having been there and won, it makes a huge difference for me. I’m going to be comfortable and not worry about it.”

Stevens considers Lukas to be a second father, while the trainer’s only son, Jeff, is like a brother.

“There’s definitely a mutual respect,” the jockey said. “We’re both highly motivated. We haven’t lost our need for big moments. Wayne is able to transmit that enthusiasm level to his whole team. I’ve been part of the team for a long time.”

Stevens resumed riding in early January, the same week he got a call from Lukas advising him that the trainer had a couple of promising 3-year-old colts who could make the Derby.

“I was kind of thinking, ‘Yeah right, wouldn’t that be great,’ and here we are,” said Stevens, who juggles his duties as a racing TV commentator with his riding commitments.

He had quit in 2005, driven out by unrelenting knee pain that had him downing anti-inflammatories every day for the previous 15 years. Stevens battled his weight, too, during the final five years he was riding.

In retirement, he ballooned to 134 pounds — huge for a jockey. Once he decided to mount a comeback, he hired a personal trainer, a nutritionist and a sports psychologist. Now he’s down to 113 pounds, and is mentally relieved knowing that he doesn’t have to sweat off extra pounds.

“I couldn’t feel better,” he said.

Stevens is the seventh different jockey to ride Oxbow, who is 2-for-9 in his short career. He was aboard for the first time in the Arkansas Derby, where the colt finished fifth, teaching his rider a valuable lesson about lagging behind too long.

“He doesn’t want to be taken ahold of and come from behind,” said Stevens, who unsuccessfully tried to weave Oxbow through traffic. “He’s a free-running horse.”

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close