Age discrimination may not be a factor in the Triple Crown this year.
Consider that 77-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has at
least two major players for the May 4 Kentucky Derby in Will Take Charge
and Oxbow, one-two in last Saturday’s Rebel Stakes.
Factor in that 50-year-old Gary Stevens was set to ride
Titletown Five for Lukas in the Sunland Park Derby Sunday until a late
change in plans ticketed the colt for the Louisiana Derby on March 30,
and there’s every chance Senior Citizens will be front and center as the
Triple Crown race ensues. Stevens rides in Dubai on March 30.
Lukas sent out Will Take Charge and Oxbow to run first and
second in a major Kentucky Derby steppingstone, the Rebel Stakes. Will
Take Charge was ridden by 52-year-old Jon Court, and Oxbow was piloted
by 47-year-old Mike Smith.
“Edgar Prado’s doing well on the East Coast,” Stevens said of
the 45-year-old jockey, winner of more than 6,400 races, including the
2003 Kentucky Derby on Barbaro. “And I think that people forget that
Eddie D. and Shoe and Laffit, they rode into their mid-50s, and they
were as good as there was in the game when they walked away.
“Shoe didn’t ride as many, by choice, but when you put those
zeroes behind the dollar sign, they were no different at the end of
their career than were in their heyday.
“Lukas is no exception. He’s got a barnful of good 3-year-olds
right now, and everybody knows he knows how to get them there. He’s
proving it once again.”
Lukas, who called Santa Anita his home base for years before
moving East several years ago, goes way back with Stevens, himself a
fixture in the Southern California riding colony for a quarter century.
Among their countless stakes victories together were the 1988
Kentucky Derby with Winning Colors and the 1995 Run for the Roses with
For added flavor, Bill Shoemaker (1951), Laffit Pincay Jr.
(1970), Eddie Delahoussaye (1981), Gary Stevens (1996), Mike Smith
(2000), Edgar Prado (2003) and Jon Court (2007) are all winners of Santa
Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, honoring riders whose
careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and
Proof that character counts and that you’re never too old.