Lukas first to arrive, and first to finish line

Bill Tanton

May 13, 1991|By Bill Tanton

There's no secret to the success of trainer Wayne Lukas, who did it again at Pimlico over the weekend, winning the $750,000 Pimlico Special with Farma Way. The colt has now won six of eight races since being taken over by Lukas.

Lukas, who has revolutionized his profession, simply outworks everyone else. Chick Lang, the former Pimlico general manager, has been aware of that for a long time.

"Out in California, Lukas and Charlie Whittingham have a contest to see who'll be the first one to work in the morning," Lang says.

Lukas tells a story about himself and Whittingham and another legendary trainer, Laz Barrera, who died last month.

"Shortly before Laz died," Lukas recalls, "I was in the owner's box with Charlie and Laz and a sort of wise guy came up to us and said, 'Hey, Laz, what's the matter with you? When the gates open at 5 o'clock in the morning, Lukas and Whittingham are the first two people in the track. You don't show up in your Cadillac until 7 o'clock.'

"So Laz turns to the guy and says, 'I'm a horse trainer, not a blankety-blank night watchman.' "

Lukas is busy on the pre-dawn patrol again this week preparing Corporate Report for Saturday's 116th Preakness.

Corporate Report ran ninth in the Kentucky Derby, but Lukas can explain that.

"I thought he was one race short for the Derby," Lukas says. "For him, the Derby was sort of a Preakness prep."

Pimlico officials love talk like that.

* The seedings and pairings for the NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament opening Wednesday went pretty much as expected, but they do have some interesting twists.

No. 7 Maryland comes up with a good draw despite its upseloss to UMBC in the Terps' regular-season finale.

"Maryland knew what they were doing, losing that game," quipJohns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman. "Maryland gets [No. 10] Rutgers at home Wednesday on real grass, and if they win that they play at Brown Sunday. Two games on grass, the surface they play on every day, and if they win those they're in the Final Four."

No. 4 Hopkins has a first-round bye along with No. 1 NortCarolina, No. 2 Brown and No. 3 Princeton.

No. 8 Loyola will play No. 9 Massachusetts Wednesday in thonly first-round game that will be played in Baltimore. The lone local quarterfinal game next Sunday will have Hopkins playing host to the winner of Wednesday's Syracuse-Michigan State matchup, which almost assuredly will be defending champion Syracuse. The Orange hasn't lost since March 23, when it was defeated by Hopkins, 18-12, in the Carrier Dome.

"Syracuse is the hot team coming into the tournament," sayHopkins assistant coach and Lacrosse Hall of Famer Joe Cowan.

Brian Lukacz, who scored five goals for Hopkins in the win oveTowson State 10 days ago, broke his hand in practice Saturday and is questionable for the playoffs.

UMBC lacrosse coach Dick Watts, whose team did not make the playoffs, knows his team and its limitations.

Last Thanksgiving I asked him how his Retrievers would be in '91. He paused for a moment and said: "I think we'll have a winning season." That would have been a modest goal for a Syracuse or a North Carolina, but UMBC hadn't had a winning season in a decade. The Retrievers surpassed Watts' expectations, finishing with a 15-11 win over New Hampshire Saturday and a 9-6 record that included the upset of the year over Maryland. Nice job, Coach Watts.

* Washington Bullets general manager John Nash made a hit with his open and honest manner when he spoke at J. Patrick's in Locust Point the other day -- on the very day the team announced a $5 per game price increase for most season tickets. Nash didn't insult the crowd of 75 by claiming Bullets tickets are still inexpensive.

Nash said he didn't expect Patrick Ewing to be playing in Washington next year, though the ex-Georgetown star has said he'd welcome a trade. Nash thinks Ewing's statements are a negotiating ploy with the Knicks. "Besides, we'd have to give up an awful lot to get him," Nash said.

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