Lukas: Continuing winner's circle tradition at the Spa - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Lukas: Continuing winner’s circle tradition at the Spa

D. Wayne Lukas confirmed the passing of his son, Jeff, at age 58

When Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas wins a horse race, he does something with little fanfare that leaves a strong impression, and it was no different yesterday when his 2-year-old filly Broken Spell rallied to break her maiden in the fifth race on the turf at Saratoga.

Heading to the winner's circle, Lukas spotted a young girl with her family and asked if she would like to join him in the post-race photo.

“I do it every time I win a race,” Lukas said Monday morning. “That's been going on for years. What I do is I get a perfect stranger. I just walk up to somebody standing there with their family, a 5, 6 or 7-year-old, and say, 'Let's get our picture taken with this winning horse.' And I take them there, and they get so excited.

“The beautiful thing is that they're at the races and they see all the horses, but they don't get that close to one. I take them back to the parents and say, 'If you wait about 20 minutes, you can go by the photographer's office and there will be a free copy of that on my account for you.' It's great for the photographer because they get my free one, and they get one for each grandparent and their Aunt Nelly and everybody else, so the photographers get a hell of a bonus out of it.”

Lukas said the little girl he brought down to the winner's circle Sunday innocently asked him, “'What do you do here?' And I said, 'I work here. I take care of the horses.' And she said, 'Oh, good. Can I touch him?' And I said, 'When he gets here, we'll take the saddle off and you can touch him.' She has no idea that I have ever won a race any other place or even knew anything about the horse.”

Lukas said he got in the habit of taking kids to the winner's circle at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and wishes more trainers would do it.

“It takes no time, it's pleasant for me, and I think it develops a public relations thing that you couldn't duplicate if you spent all night trying to think of something,” he said.

“I was standing there at the Derby this year, and this kid comes walking up and says, 'Do you remember me?' And his parents were standing back; he came by himself. We shook hands, and I said, 'No, I don't remember you. Should I?' And he said, 'Oh, yeah. We had our picture taken together last year. I have it up on my bulletin board.'

“You can't produce that kind of PR,” Lukas said. “We need more of that. It's so easy to do.”

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