06/06/2012 4:14PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Lukas back at work after injury

Tom Keyser
D. Wayne Lukas sports a nasty wound after being struck by a horse Wednesday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Sporting a 4-inch gash on his left temple, but in good humor over what was a scary situation, trainer D. Wayne Lukas was back at work Wednesday morning at Belmont Park, a little more than 12 hours after his stakes-winning sprinter Hamazing Destiny reared up and struck the trainer in the head.

“The good news is I got a date with the head nurse and sold both doctors a horse,” Lukas said.

Lukas was sitting in a chair at his barn at Belmont Park, trying to adhere to at least some of the guidelines the doctors gave him. He said he lost count of how many stitches were put in his head Tuesday night because “they had to go through three layers.”

“It was all the way down to the bone,” Lukas said. “They had to call in a plastic surgeon because they were afraid it was going to leave a bump. The swelling isn’t as bad as they thought it would be. I put ice on it all night.”

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Lukas on Tuesday afternoon was grazing Hamazing Destiny on the grass outside his barn when Hamazing Destiny got up on his hind legs, Lukas said, then came crashing down with his front legs. Hamazing Destiny’s right front leg hit Lukas on the way down, opening a bloody gash. Lukas said Hamazing Destiny, who is running in the True North Handicap here Saturday, is shod with toe grabs, protrusions that certainly could contribute to the damage to his head.

“I wasn’t scared,” Lukas said. “It was more like a headache.”

Lukas said the ride to the hospital in the ambulance was harrowing.

“I’ll tell you what they should do with the casino money at Aqueduct,” he said. “Before they give it to the racetracks, they should fix the potholes. We hit some potholes and went airborne.”

Lukas, 76, has won the Belmont Stakes four times, and will run the longshot Optimizer in this year’s race. One of his previous Belmont wins came in 1994 with Tabasco Cat, a colt who at age 2 got loose at Santa Anita and trampled his son, Jeff, severely injuring him.

In a creepy irony, as Lukas was talking with reporters Wednesday, a horse from an adjacent barn got loose and came barreling down a nearby horse path, which gave Lukas chills.

“Any time a horse gets loose, it gets to me,” he said, adding that it reminds him of the morning Jeff was injured.