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Lukas finds place to call home
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - D. Wayne Lukas is homeless no more.
Lukas, the Hall of Fame trainer who for nearly two decades has lived in Louisville hotels during most of any given year, has purchased a home in the prestigious Lake Forest neighborhood some 15 miles east of downtown.
"The nature of the training game, when you do it like I do, has been living from hotel to hotel," said Lukas. "I evaluated where I am most of the time, and it's something like 7 1/2 months when I have to be here or in Lexington. I finally made the decision that I'm probably better served just getting a home here, so that's what I've done."
For most of his training career, Lukas, 68, owned a home in Arcadia, Calif., about two miles from the Santa Anita stable gate. He eventually moved to Glendora, Calif., with his then-wife Laura, but after the couple divorced, he began living in hotels near whichever track he was working.
"When I'm not in Louisville, it's been Saratoga in the summer or splitting time between California and Florida in the winter," he said.
In Louisville, he became locally famous for his unpretentious lifestyle at the Holiday Inn in blue-collar Shively and the Residence Inn near the airport. By moving to Lake Forest, he is joining some of the wealthiest members of Louisville society, including a handful of jockeys.
Lukas said that for the first time he will have a display room for all of his racing prizes and mementos. He said he plans to have custom-made shelving built into the finished basement in his new house to accommodate all his racing loot.
"I've got more than 1,200 trophies and what-not with all my stuff," said Lukas. "They're spread out over four or five storage units." Lukas said he jokingly told B. Wayne Hughes, the prominent California horse owner who owns Public Storage Co., "that I think I'm supporting his habit."
Lukas said he is unsure exactly where his Hall of Fame plaque is located. He was inducted as a first-ballot entry in 1999. "The ushers took it from me, and I don't know where it ended up," he said.
Lukas said he is scheduled to take possession of the new house in January but that it will be sometime in the spring until he will fully move in.
"I'll have full stables at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream this winter," he said. "I've still got some time to spend in hotels."
Court on the move
Rarely does a Kentucky jockey ride a race in Oklahoma aboard a California horse. But that is exactly what Jon Court will do Sunday when he rides Excessivepleasure in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park for Southern California-based trainer Doug O'Neill.
Court said he picked up the mount on Excessivepleasure over the summer through a common friend of the owners, Lee and Ty Leatherman.
Court and Excessivepleasure won the first time they teamed together, taking the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. A month later, Court was back aboard for a seventh-place finish in the Haskell at Monmouth, a race that was followed by a victory in the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.
Court, sixth in the rider standings through Wednesday, welcomes the opportunity to ride Excessivepleasure, although it means missing mounts at Churchill Downs on Sunday. "Having to take off is just part of it," Court said.
The Oklahoma Derby caps a busy weekend for Court, who will ride here Saturday afternoon and then travel to Indiana to ride Ack Ack winner Cappuchino in the $100,000 Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer on Saturday night.
Sir Cherokee nearing return
Sir Cherokee, unraced since winning the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby on April 12, continued his training toward a fall comeback with a half-mile workout in 46.20 seconds Tuesday at Churchill Downs Trackside under regular jockey Terry Thompson.
The work was the fourth breeze since Sir Cherokee resumed training following a fracture to his right hind ankle that resulted in him being scratched form the Kentucky Derby.
"He's coming back with a vengeance," trainer Mike Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson had hoped to have Sir Cherokee ready for a stakes race such as the Oklahoma Derby, but the horse took a bit longer to come around after having more than 60 days' stall rest following the discovery of his injury.
Tomlinson hopes Sir Cherokee might be ready to race before the end of the Churchill Downs meet, potentially on Thanksgiving Day. A three-other-than allowance is in the condition book for that afternoon on turf, a surface on which Tomlinson would like to try him. "The bottom side of his pedigree is pure grass," he said.
Long-term plans plan call for perhaps a stakes race at Fair Grounds before trying the series of Oaklawn Park stakes that lead to the Oaklawn Handicap, Tomlinson said.
Sharbayan arrives for River City
Sharbayan arrived here Wednesday from Southern California and will try to extend his unbeaten season to five races when favored Sunday in the $150,000 River City Handicap.
Pat Day will be aboard Sharbayan, the Wally Dollase-trained 5-year-old who will attempt to use the Grade 3 River City as a springboard to the Dec. 14 Hong Kong Vase, a $2 million turf race run at about 1 1/2 miles.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the River City for Sharbayan will be the 1 1/8-mile distance. Sharbayan has won his last two races at 1 1/2 miles.
The rest of the River City field is expected to include Della Francesca, Dr. Kashnikow, Gretchen's Star, Hard Buck, Warleigh, and probably several more.
Day to ride Tenpins
Tenpins will be ridden by Pat Day in the Nov. 28 Clark Handicap, said trainer Don Winfree. A Michigan-bred, Tenpins likely will be second choice behind Medaglia d'Oro in the $500,000 Clark.
"The horse will have one more breeze, and Pat will be on him for it," said Winfree. "I just want Pat to get on him once so he'll know what kind of horse he has under him."
* Jockey Tony D'Amico will reunite with the star filly Take Charge Lady for the Nov. 27 Falls City Handicap, said trainer Ken McPeek. D'Amico had been the regular rider for Take Charge Lady until losing the mount following the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill in May 2002.
- additional reporting by Byron King