JC / Railbird

D. Wayne Lukas

Don’t Be Disappointed

Oxbow spoiled nothing winning the Preakness, writes Bill Dwyre, because he put trainer D. Wayne Lukas back in the spotlight:

In this age of owners looking for quick prominence and quick return on investment, a Triple Crown winner offers a nice temporary buzz before disappearing into the breeding shed. Lukas coming back, with plenty left in the tank, should have his sport counting its lucky stars.

It has been a few years since Lukas was at the center — the last Triple Crown race he won was the 2000 Belmont, with Commendable.

Preakness Bow

If Orb’s Kentucky Derby victory was a win for the old school, then Oxbow’s Preakness Stakes upset was a win for the old timers.

“The experience thing is huge in these races,” said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 77, speaking of the Triple Crown series at Pimlico on Friday. “And [the Preakness] may be more of a jockey’s race than the other two.”

Gary Stevens, 50, proved his point. The Hall of Fame jockey, who came out of a seven-year retirement in January, let Oxbow settle in front and lead through an opening quarter of :23.94 and a half in :48.60 (chart).

At the half-mile pole, I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’

The race was over. Orb was on the inside, looking uncomfortable and too far off the pace. He finished fourth, nine lengths behind the winner. Itsmyluckyday and Mylute, on the outside, rallied for second and third.

Oxbow’s final time was 1:57.54, the slowest since Carry Back’s in 1961. The time might not be notable, but the win is for another reason — Oxbow gave Lukas his 14th score in a Triple Crown race, the most of any trainer in history.

I get paid to spoil dreams,” said Lukas.

I’m disappointed, but I know how the game works,” said Shug McGaughey. (Let’s pause for a moment to mourn Orb’s lost crown along with his trainer.)

As for the Belmont Stakes? The Preakness winner is likely. The Kentucky Derby winner is possible. And trainer Todd Pletcher is considering a filly or two.

5/19/13 Addendum: David Grening has a terrific bit of detail on how Stevens rode in this year’s Preakness: “Stevens said he tried the same move he made all those years ago with Winning Colors, attempting to bust the race open with three furlongs to go.” (Winning Colors going wire to wire in the 1988 Kentucky Derby was pretty great.) Oxbow earned a Beyer speed figure of 106.

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