09/21/2015 12:20PM

Hall of Fame trainer Lukas gets temporary pacemaker


Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas had a temporary pacemaker implanted under his shoulder Sunday and was feeling much better afterward, according to a member of his traveling staff.

Lukas, who turned 80 this month, became ill Saturday and was admitted to the Torresdale campus of Aria Health in suburban Philadelphia on Saturday night. Lukas had traveled east to start last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, Take Charge Brandi, in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes and Mr. Z in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Saturday but wasn’t feeling well and didn’t come to the track.

When Lukas hadn’t improved by that night, his staff called 911, and paramedics determined he had a low heart rate. Tests at the hospital, including blood work and a chest X-ray, showed Lukas was in good health besides his heart rate.

Lukas felt well enough Sunday to watch football on television after the temporary pacemaker was installed under a local anaesthetic, according to John Sica, who has worked for Lukas for 18 years.

“His heart rate went from 36 to 70 after the pacemaker was put in,” Sica said. “Everyone was very pleased.”

Plans called for Lukas to have a catharization Monday to make sure there were no blockages in his arteries, and a permanent pacemaker/defibrillator was scheduled to be implanted in the coming days.

Lukas’s wife, Laurie, flew in from Colorado on Sunday to be with her husband.

Lukas, a member of the Hall of Fame since 1999, was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2013 for his many accomplishments in racing, which include 14 wins in Triple Crown races, including four Kentucky Derby wins; 20 Breeders’ Cup victories; and stable earnings of more than $273 million, second only to former assistant Todd Pletcher.