03/30/2011 3:37PM

Oaklawn finds Lukas on top of standings

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Absinthe Minded, Terry Thompson up, wins the Bayakoa.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– D. Wayne Lukas tends to hunt big game as a Hall of Fame trainer who has won a co-record 13 Triple Crown races. And while he will continue the trend this month with Duca in the Wood Memorial and Saratoga Red in the Arkansas Derby, Lukas is also making a splash in the overnight ranks at Oaklawn Park, where he leads the standings.

Lukas had won 22 races through Wednesday, two more than second-leading trainer Allen Milligan. And if Lukas were to win the title at the meet that wraps April 16, it would be his first since a 2005 fall championship at Turfway. It would also be his second Oaklawn title, the first coming in 1987.

“I thought we could have a good meet. You’re always optimistic if you’re a horse trainer,” said Lukas, 75. “But I thought we’d have a solid meet. We thought if we’d won 20, we’d have a real good meet. That would be outstanding for us. We’re at 22 right now, and we’ve got a chance maybe to win a couple more. That would be a good meet.”

Lukas has a 32-horse stable at Oaklawn, with a number of those runners targeting the Racing Festival of the South. No trainer has won more stakes during the festival, when at least one major race a day is run during the final six dates of the meet. Lukas has late Triple Crown nominee Saratoga Red on deck for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16, following the horse’s fourth-place finish to The Factor in the Grade 2 Rebel

“That was only his second out,” Lukas said of Saratoga Red. “He’ll improve a lot off of that.”

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Absinthe Minded, who won the $100,000 Bayakoa here Feb. 19, will run next in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom on April 15, said Lukas. She will be joined in the gate by the Lukas-trained Decelerator, who romped by seven lengths in a local allowance March 17, for a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

Lukas said Tidal Pool, an Oaklawn allowance winner Feb. 18, is targeting the new $100,000 Redbud for fillies and mares April 13. Derivative, meanwhile, will go in the $100,000 Northern Spur on April 16 off his sharp allowance win last week at Oaklawn.

Duca is headed to Aqueduct for the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 9. He won a maiden special weight route here March 12 for owners Robert Baker and William Mack, who also race Saratoga Red.

“Saratoga Red’s going to stay here, so we thought we’d split them off,” Lukas said of the ship to New York.

Lukas’s best older males, Grade 1 winner Dublin and Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Hamazing Destiny, will not see action this meet. Dublin had been a candidate for the Grade 2, $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap, but a bout with colitis earlier this winter disrupted his schedule.

“We’ve got nothing targeted,” Lukas said, “but we’re training forwardly.”

Hamazing Destiny is on pace to run late during the Churchill Downs meet, Lukas said. The trainer will be based at Churchill after Oaklawn.

Superior Storm retired, headed to Kentucky

Superior Storm, the Louisiana-bred millionaire who won statebred championship races at every track in Louisiana, has been retired, her trainer, Rick Jackson, said on Wednesday. Superior Storm shipped Tuesday afternoon to Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., and is scheduled to be bred to either Afleet Alex or Tapit.

“Today was a sad day, going back to my barn and her not being there,” Jackson said.

Jackson trained Superior Storm throughout her career for her breeder, Jac Mac Stable. The mare, a 6-year-old by Stormy Atlantic, retires with a record of 16 wins from 29 starts for earnings of $1,066,873. She was known for her dominance of the statebred ranks in Louisiana.

“Her winning 10 straight champion day races, that was awful special,” said Jackson.

Jackson said other high points included Superior Storm’s win over champion Proud Spell in an Oaklawn allowance March 12, 2009, and her subsequent second-place finish in the Apple Blossom.

◗ The statebred stakes winners Zarb’s Ballerina and She’s All In meet in the ninth on Friday, a $40,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at a mile. Also on the card, Too Shy Shy, a 3-year-old half-sister to 2006 Arkansas Derby winner Lawyer Ron, makes her debut in the eighth race.