Play it again, Wayne.
That's what the Lukas barn did Sunday at Santa Anita. Twenty-four hours after winning the season-opening Malibu with the 8-1 longshot, On the Line, Lukas and his toothy smile were in the winner's circle again, celebrating a 2-length win by the 6-1 longshot, High Brite, in the $107,500 Palos Verdes Handicap.
Lukas seemed almost sheepish in discussing his 92nd stakes win of the year--a record--and a victory that moved the barn to around the $17.5-million mark in purses--another record.
"Well, this (High Brite) is another horse that we thought would run well in the Breeders' Cup, and we were one race off," Lukas said.
High Brite went off at 97-1 in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and finished fifth, while On the Line struggled home 10th in the 13-horse field.
Both 3-year-olds showed that the lead is the place to be, at least in sprints, at Santa Anita. Gary Stevens sent High Brite to the lead, when none of the other five starters wanted to be there, and after quick fractions of :44 2/5 for a half-mile and :56 2/5 for five furlongs, neither of the favorites, Zany Tactics nor Hilco Scamper, had the punch in the stretch to overhaul him.
High Brite paid $14.20, $5 and $2.80, with a time of 1:09 for the six furlongs. Hilco Scamper, who finished second by three lengths, paid $3.80 and $2.80, and Zany Tactics returned $2.40.
High Brite, a son of Best Turn and Spray, had won only 3 of 17 starts this year and carried 116 pounds, 7 less than the top-weighted Zany Tactics.
The Palos Verdes field was reduced to a half-dozen by the scratches of Exclusive Enough and Zabaleta, and Zabaleta's intended jockey, Laffit Pincay, was also scratched for the day when he was unseated by a 2-year-old filly, May First, as they left the gate in the third race.
Pincay was taken to Arcadia Methodist Hospital and released. Pincay was woozy from the spill and took a hoof in the face that starter Tucker Slender said "sounded like a grapefruit popping." But the jockey's agent, Tony Matos, didn't seem to be overly concerned.
"It's nothing serious," Matos said. "He's got a lump on his face, and it's nothing that would prevent him from bending over and riding. They're going to take more X-rays Monday and see if it might be related to an old back injury."
Santa Anita is closed today, but on Tuesday Pincay is scheduled to ride another Lukas runner, Contempt, in the $75,000 San Miguel Stakes.
Stevens can empathize with Pincay because he's a jockey who's been knocked around, having suffered shoulder, knee and ankle injuries, all on the right side of his body. Stevens missed this year's Breeders' Cup because of a broken ankle in a gate accident.
Jacinto Vasquez rode High Brite in the Breeders' Cup, but was in Florida this weekend, and in fact announced that he had ended a trial period in California this winter and would remain in the East.
Stevens won two other races Sunday, and now has five in two days. One of his other Sunday winners was also for Lukas--the undefeated 2-year-old filly, Winning Colors, taking her second straight start in 1:09 4/5.
Stevens thought he would be second, behind Hilco Scamper and Corey Black, when the Palos Verdes started.
"But when the gate opened, I went out there," Stevens said. "I saw Corey look over at me, and he didn't seem to be worried.
"My horse kind of got things his own way the whole trip. I thought the horse had a real good chance. He had been running against monsters all year."
Zany Tactics was another horse who came out of the Breeders' Cup Sprint with something to prove. His owners supplemented him for $120,000 that day, and he finished ninth.
In the Palos Verdes, there was a jockey change, Cowboy Jack Kaenel off and Bill Shoemaker on. Shoemaker is hot--he won three races Sunday after scoring a triple on closing day at Hollywood Park on Thursday--but he had Zany Tactics on the rail, a place that neither he nor trainer Blake Heap wanted to be.
"I didn't figure he'd be behind horses, and he doesn't like to be inside horses," Heap said.
Shoemaker's explanation: "I didn't want to be inside horses, but I didn't have a choice. There was plenty of room down in there, but he hung in the stretch."
High Brite is owned by Joe Allen, a Greenwich, Conn., newsprint manufacturer and art collector who has about 10 horses with Lukas. High Brite's $62,500 purse Sunday moved him into the $500,000 earnings bracket.
Allen has been racing horses since 1975, and Lukas says that this is the first year he's made money. With High Brite, 1988 looks prosperous, too, as long as Lukas keeps the colt away from On the Line.
Horse Racing Notes