In victory, Lukas won't dismiss criticism of '93 TRAINER 119TH PREAKNESS

May 22, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

D. Wayne Lukas doesn't mind being called arrogant as long as he's also called a winner.

One year after he was criticized for running Union City in the Preakness -- the horse broke down and was destroyed -- Lukas was in the Preakness winner's circle for the third time yesterday with Tabasco Cat.

Before the race, he discussed the criticism he got last year, and even in victory, he wasn't going to overlook it.

"I'm very proud. I'm very competitive and I'm outspoken. I don't hide that part. You can call me arrogant or aloof or whatever you want. I am what I am," he said.

That's one thing about Lukas. He always speaks his mind. He doesn't give reporters the silent treatment.

"When some of your colleagues frankly took the shots, I thought it was unfair so I thought, well, I'm not going to turn my back on this thing because I think I owe it to the industry as a participant to take interviews and answer questions," he said.

"I don't have to be Mr. Personality to some of you guys. I don't hold any animosity, but it's hard for me to stand in front of some of these guys who absolutely wrote things that were maybe detrimental to my career. I feel that I'll weather those and I'll be around here a lot of Preaknesses when some of these guys are gone.

"If you guys criticize me and I think you're wrong and I see you, I'm going to ask you about it. I've always done that. You always know where you stand with me," he said.

Not only the guys, but the women in the press corps hear from Lukas.

Pointing to one female writer who had criticized him, he said, "I chewed her out. She stood there and I gave it to her for about 30 minutes and when it was over, I said, 'Now having said that, what do you want to talk about?' "

One of the things that was talked about yesterday was Lukas' 10-year streak of leading trainers in winnings before dropping to 10th last year. He also hadn't won a Grade I race in 31 months.

"Ten years is a long run. Even John Wooden [UCLA basketball coach] didn't put them all together in a row," he said.

"I always tell Jeff [his son], 'Don't look at it month to month. Don't look at it week to week. Don't even look at it year to year. Look at it in 10-year increments. See how you're doing. If you go on for five, six, seven, eight years and you look back and you say five of them were good and two of them were bad, that's all that you can ask. If you start looking at this week to week, you're going to be in a nut house," he said.

Jeff wasn't at the race because he was run down by Tabasco Cat last Dec. 15 after he escaped his handlers. Jeff lay near death for weeks with multiple skull fractures, but recovered well enough to play golf Friday.

"This is special. It probably means a little bit more for a number of reasons. Jeff is the obvious one," he said.

He said he expects Jeff to be back on the job soon.

"They [doctors] are talking about letting him come to the barn on a very limited basis," Lukas said. "He can pick his time. He'll come out and spend a few hours. They want him to get back in the most familiar surroundings he can get in. I fully expect him to be standing in front of you after the Breeders' Cup this fall after we win."

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