Updated on 09/15/2011 12:26PM

Antley's wife rebuts Lukas comments


The widow of jockey Chris Antley is disputing recent comments made by trainer D. Wayne Lukas regarding the jockey's conduct and relationship with Lukas following the 1999 Belmont Stakes.

According to Natalie Jowett, Antley's wife, the jockey was distraught after Charismatic broke down in the Belmont and left Lukas's barn that night because he was overwhelmed by the crush of media there.

"Lukas said that Chris couldn't be bothered to go see the horse in the barn, and that he was whisked off in a limousine. That's not true," Jowett said by telephone from her home in Connecticut. "He was upset. He was emotionally spent, so he left. He left with his agent, Ron Anderson, in Ron's car."

Jowett said Antley had repeated contact after the Belmont with the colt's owners, Bob and Beverly Lewis, to see how Charismatic was doing. Antley was widely credited with preventing further damage to Charismatic's injured leg by pulling the colt up quickly, dismounting, and holding the horse's injured leg. The Lewises rewarded Antley with a breeding share in Charismatic when the colt went to stud. That share is in the process of being transferred into a trust for Antley and Jowett's daughter, Violet, according to Jowett.

"Mr. Lewis did it as a thank-you for saving Charismatic's life," Jowett said. "Wayne should be on his knees thanking Chris for saving the horse, because if the horse had been put down, the blame would have come back to Wayne Lukas, not Chris Antley."

The Lewises sent a large floral arrangement to Antley's funeral, Jowett said, and they attended a memorial service held June 8 in Garden City, N.Y., near Belmont Park. Bob Lewis spoke at the memorial service. Lukas did not contact Jowett or Antley's parents after Antley's death last December, and he did not attend the memorial service, Jowett said.

Lukas, in his June 8 comments at Belmont Park, said that the last time he spoke to Antley was when he lifted Antley into the saddle for the 1999 Belmont Stakes. However, Antley was aboard Commendable for Lukas in Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes on March 19, 2000, the last day Antley rode. "I know, because I was there," Jowett said.

"There was plenty of time to say this while Chris was alive," Jowett said. "Why now?"

Lukas, reached Tuesday at his barn at Santa Anita, said: "I think I answered the questions at Belmont honestly. What I said was the absolute truth, and I don't need to comment further. I was asked about Chris's involvement with the horse. It totaled about eight minutes, from the time I gave him a leg up for each race. I don't recall having any conversations with him about the horse after the Belmont."

Les Antley, the jockey's father, said Lukas's comments "hurt me to the bone." Antley, who lives in South Carolina, learned of the comments when his wife saw stories on the Internet. The Antleys had purposely not read any papers around the time of this year's Belmont because "the Triple Crown was pretty tough on us," Antley said.

"Even if what Lukas said was true, and it's not, I don't know why a man would say this," Antley said. "It hurts me bad. We've gone through a lot, but this tore me up."

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