10/17/2006 11:00PM

Lukas sightings will be fewer


Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will not have a stable at Santa Anita this winter for the first time since he began training Thoroughbreds in the late 1970's, he said Wednesday.

Speaking from his stable at Churchill Downs, Lukas said the cost of shipping a stable to California and changes in his client list have led to the decision to spend the winter at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

Lukas cited the death of prominent owner Bob Lewis last February as one of the reasons for the shift. Lukas trained numerous stakes horses for Lewis, including the champions Charismatic, Folklore, Orientate, Serena's Song, and Timber County,

While Lewis's wife, Beverly, continues to campaign a stable, the Lewis family has fewer horses than in past years.

"If Bob was alive, there would be no question," Lukas said of racing in Southern California.

Lukas said the cost of flying horses to California - a round trip of $7,000 to $8,000 per horse - and arranging housing for staff are other factors that went into his decision.

"After being based in the Midwest, it's cost prohibitive," he said. "I know some others are going to do it, but they must have a stronger client base than I have.

"My people are now Midwest-based," he said of his staff. "We'd have to subsidize the rent. It's a tough call. We do that at Saratoga, but up there is only 45 days, not four months."

Lukas, 71, has won five training titles at Santa Anita, most recently in 1990. Since the late 1990's, Lukas has not operated a year-round stable in California, pulling out of the state in April and returning in the late fall. He has concentrated on New York and Kentucky for most of the year.

Even when he has had a stable at Santa Anita, Lukas has run fewer horses than in the past and was not among the leaders in the standings.

Lukas's position in Santa Anita history is secure. He has won 107 stakes at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, good enough for fourth on the all-time list. Lukas has won several stakes multiple times, including eight runnings of the Santa Anita Oaks, five runnings of the Las Virgenes Stakes, and four runnings of the Santa Anita Derby, La Brea Stakes, and San Pasqual Handicap.

Despite the shift to a Midwest operation, Lukas said he may have an occasional starter in California this winter.

"I wouldn't rule out running in a stakes," he said. "If we have one of our 3-year-olds that fit, we wouldn't hesitate to come out."

Karen's Caper points to Matriarch

Karen's Caper, the runner-up in the Grade 2 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland last Saturday, has been sent to trainer Bobby Frankel's stable at Hollywood Park. She is being pointed for the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26, according to John Adger, the racing manager for Stonerside Stable.

Karen's Caper, 4, has won 3 of 13 starts, including the Grade 3 Noble Damsel Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 23. In the First Lady, she finished a nose behind Gorella in a thrilling finish.

Adger said the Matriarch is an attractive option because it is a Grade 1 race, a level at which Karen's Caper has yet to succeed. She was second by a nose in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes in England in 2005.

"We had talked about [the Matriarch] before the race, and I think it's the best spot for her," Adger said. "We want to have a shot at a Grade 1 race with her. Hopefully, we'll have one of the better mares for next year."

Horse Greeley out indefinitely

Horse Greeley, who won the Del Mar Futurity in September but finished seventh in the Grade 2 Norfolk Breeders' Cup Stakes on Oct. 8, will undergo surgery this weekend to have a bone chip removed from the ankle of his left foreleg, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Horse Greeley underwent a nuclear scan and X-rays last weekend that detected the injury. At the time, he was declared out of training for the rest of the year.

Mandella said on Wednesday that it is unclear how long Horse Greeley would be out.

"We didn't know how long he will be out until we go in and look at the bone," Mandella said. "We think it's a simple chip."

Mandella was reluctant to predict whether the injury would affect Horse Greeley's chances of being ready for the major races of the winter and spring or the Triple Crown.

"It's not out of the question, but the surgery will tell us if there is hope," Mandella said. "It depends on whether he needs six weeks off or six months."

Labirinto second start off layoff

When Labirinto returned from a 30-month layoff to finish fourth in an optional claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 27, trainer Leonard Powell remarked how much his life had changed in the interim.

"The last time he ran, I wasn't married," he said. "Now, I have a wife and two kids."

Powell never gave up Labirinto, an 8-year-old gelding who emerged with a tendon injury after finishing second in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap in March 2004. Saturday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, Labirinto starts in the $100,000 Carleton Burke Handicap, a Grade 3 over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Labirinto is not the only equine veteran in the Burke. The race also includes Runaway Dancer, a 7-year-old gelding, and Sarafan, a 9-year-old gelding with career earnings of more than $2.6 million.

Labirinto has won 8 of 34 starts and $346,966. He raced in Europe from April 2001 to September 2003, winning four stakes in 2003. Owned by Jean Pierre Mio, Labirinto was second to Runaway Dancer in the 2003 Carleton Burke Handicap.

In his last start, he rallied from last of seven in the stretch to finish fourth.

"I wanted him to finish, give him some good experience, and make him feel good about himself," Powell said. "He closed a lot of ground. On the turn, he was way out of it. He's fitter now. It was a pretty long layoff."