Only one man has won the Kentucky Derby more often than D. Wayne Lukas, but thanks for the memories, big guy, because Saturday Lukas made it 0 for 65 trying to bring home a winner at Santa Anita this meet.
Misery, you know, Bob Mieszerski, The Times' handicapper, picks more winners than that, and most days he's working blindfolded. Or so it seems.
It's an unforgiving business, and as the cliche goes, you're only as good as your last win ... that is, if anyone can recall what year it was the last time a Lukas chug-a-lug won in California.
You put jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. on the back of a Lukas plowhorse these days, knowing that Valdivia has his own streak of 64 consecutive rides without a win at Santa Anita, and talk about your sure thing.
It's a tough business, all right.
BOB BAFFERT has an ugly dog, a boxer named Derby, and a beautiful wife to remind him at least the dog still liked him after Baffert failed to win the Kentucky Derby a year ago.
You still have to hand it to Baffert, because as soon as I mentioned something about the nag, he was smart enough to keep himself out of trouble and immediately started talking about the horse, Wimbledon, who gives him the best chance to win his fourth Kentucky Derby seven weeks from now.
There is no clear favorite to win the biggest race of the year. Before Saturday's Florida Derby, Read The Footnotes probably topped the list of contenders, but he ran as if he were being trained by Lukas and finished fourth.
A wide-open Derby makes Baffert very dangerous. Two years ago he didn't have a horse capable of winning the Derby. A little more than three weeks before the big race, he watched War Emblem run in the Illinois Derby and read in the paper that the trainer and owner didn't believe the horse was Derby worthy.
Some others considered buying War Emblem, but they didn't like what they saw on the X-rays. The Thoroughbred Corp. wrote out a $900,000 check on Baffert's recommendation and bought War Emblem without insisting on an X-ray.
"I gave him my own physical," Baffert said. "I watched him run."
War Emblem won the Derby, and the horse was sold later for $17 million.
I'm betting Lukas watches this year's Illinois Derby with great interest.
LIKE LUKAS, Baffert is good for horse racing. At times he's the best thing going for the decaying sport. Horses arrive and quickly drop out of sight for breeding. The top two jockeys in California earlier this year are now sidelined, one suspended on suspicion of a drug problem and the other still recovering from injuries.
The folks who own horses like to think they are the most important people in the sport, but who comes to the track to look at the rich folk? Some of the top trainers lack people skills, working as much as they do with horses. Trainer Richard Mandella dominated the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita in October but came across like Kevin Brown.
Baffert has white hair. The folks in the grandstand point him out to friends when he walks through the stands. The other jealous folks in the horse racing game point at him too, in an effort to try to tear him apart. He gets all the money to buy the best horses, they say. He's all ego, they say. Hallelujah, I say.
If he's standing in the winner's circle again at Churchill Downs, it'll be a plus for the people who don't know anything more about the sport other than the guy with white hair.
Had his first Derby horse, Cavonnier, not lost by a nose to Lukas' Grindstone in the 1996 run for the roses, he'd be sitting on four Derby wins. Had Point Given, his best horse, not been sabotaged by a hard track, he'd be well on his way to one day winning the Kentucky Derby more than any other trainer.
"Every year there's 35,000 foals and one horse goes on to win the Derby," Baffert said. "So many things can go wrong before you get there. You get there, and then you've got to win it. You get there, in fact, and you've got to get around the first turn, and then you've got the chance to win it."
Until Wimbledon's recent burst, Baffert was still searching for his Derby ticket. Odds On and Preachinatthebar run today, and while Baffert calls Odds On the better horse, if one of them scores big, Wimbledon will have company.
"When Wimbledon won, it put a lot of life in me," he said. "My chest was pumped out. I hardly ever root for a horse, but I was yelling and screaming at the eighth pole -- I got a Derby horse."
Valdivia will not be riding Wimbledon.
If I were Baffert, I'd ask Lukas not to wager on the horse.
THE BOSTON Parking Lot Attendant, proving once again you can't believe anything he has to say, has now backed off his opening news conference promise to Los Angeles to deliver a clean-up hitter.
"The idea that there's a panacea -- you just grab one guy and everything's solved -- I think is a little bit misguided," Frank McCourt said.
Now follow that logic: Because a clean-up hitter couldn't possibly be a panacea, then the Dodgers' ownership has come to the conclusion there's no need to do anything to improve the team.
In other words: We stink, we know it, and there's nothing out there that's going to make us any good, so we'll just continue to stink.
By the way, the Boston parking lot attendant was speaking to reporters in Fort Myers, Fla., site of the Boston Red Sox training camp. At least he'll have the Red Sox to cheer for this season.
T.J. Simers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.