Updated on 09/16/2011 7:13AM

Proud Citizen, uncanny Lukas

Proud Citizen wins Saturday's Grade 2 Lexington Stakes, a race won in 1999 by another Lukas horse, Charismatic, who went on to win the Derby.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - He did it again.

D. Wayne Lukas, who three years ago trained Charismatic to upset the at Keeneland before seeing the colt post an even more improbable victory in the Kentucky Derby, pulled off the first half of that parlay Saturday when he saddled Proud Citizen to upset the Lexington at 8-1.

The victory almost surely means Proud Citizen - a Gone West colt who finished seventh in the Santa Anita Derby in his only previous start this year - will be part of a large field when the 128th Derby is run May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Lukas, a four-time Derby-winning trainer, said afterward that he and his clients are "always thinking that way" and that "we've been lucky in that race" when asked repeatedly about running Proud Citizen in the Derby. "We've got a fresh horse," he added. "It's a year where they're all still sorting themselves out."

Proud Citizen is owned by the partnership of Bob Baker, David Cummings, and Bill Mack. Ridden by Mike Smith, he led all the way in the Grade 2, $364,650 Lexington before returning $18.60 to win as the fourth choice in a field of eight 3-year-olds. He finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.58 over a track that was drying out all day from a heavy overnight rain and was rated "good."

Crimson Hero, a 7-1 shot, finished second by 3 1/4 lengths. Easyfromthegitgo, the 9-5 second choice who was forced to check on the first turn, finished another three-quarters of a length back in third. Ethan Man, the 3-2 favorite and the expected front-runner, was never a factor when finishing fifth and "spinning his wheels," according to trainer Pat Byrne.

Proud Citizen appears to be the only Lexington runner who will wheel back in the Derby. Nick Zito, trainer of Crimson Hero, said the May 18 Preakness is far more probable for his colt, who also was making just his second start of the year.

"He's a May 21 foal, and to make the Derby his third start of the year, I don't feel that'd be the right thing to do," said Zito.

Asked about Lukas winning, Zito said: "He's great for the game. And we know one thing: He'll be there, that's for sure."

Indeed, if Proud Citizen starts, it will mark the 21st time in 22 years that Lukas has had at least one Derby starter. He missed last year after a record 20 straight appearances (1981-2000).

Before the Lexington, which was witnessed by a crowd of 21,604, 30 horses were listed as possible for the race. But in the Lexington aftermath, that list has been trimmed to 26. The Derby field is limited to 20 starters.

In other Derby developments Saturday:

- Trainer Steve Margolis has named Robby Albarado, who appears headed to his first-ever Keeneland riding title this spring, as the Derby jockey for Request for Parole. Pat Day rode Request for Parole in the colt's most recent race, a third-place finish in the March 23 Lane's End Spiral Stakes, but since then Day has defected to Buddha, aboard whom he won the Wood Memorial.

- Although it was not fast enough to be listed as an official work, Sunday Break had a leisurely breeze Friday at Churchill, said trainer Neil Drysdale. "He went three-eighths in 40 [seconds] or something," said Drysdale.

Sunday Break, a close third in the Wood Memorial, is one of a handful of horses on the cusp of getting into the Derby. As of Saturday night, he was 22nd on the graded earnings list.

Drysdale also has Flying Dash as possible for the Derby. Flying Dash runs Saturday in the $100,000 Derby Trial.

- Three Derby starters who recently arrived at Churchill were out for their first gallops over the track Saturday morning: Came Home, Essence of Dubai, and Lusty Latin. Meanwhile, Wild Horses was scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon from Keeneland.

- Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday will have a serious breeze Wednesday morning, said trainer Ken McPeek.