Trainer Profile: D. Wayne Lukas

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas

Darrell Wayne Lukas was born September 2, 1935 on a small farm in Antigo, Wisconsin. He grew up with an interest in horses, and began buying horses at auction while he was in grade school, and regularly raced and performed tricks on the county fair circuit while in college. Lukas graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a master’s degree in education. He currently resides in Louisville, KY.

Lukas began training quarter horses in California in 1968, and after 10 years of achievement that saw him train 24 world champions, he switched to training thoroughbreds.

Renowned for his spotless barn and crisp, neat appearance as he rose to prominence, Lukas ran his vast stable like a well-oiled machine in the 1980s. Lukas won the Preakness Stakes with Codex in 1980, and his horses have won the Kentucky Derby four times, the Preakness Stakes on six occasions, and have claimed victory four times in the Belmont Stakes, including winning all three of the Classics in 1995 with Thunder Gulch (Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes) and Timber Country (Preakness).

From 1983 to 1992, Lukas led all U.S. trainers by purse earnings every year.  

Lukas holds the record for the most Triple Crown race wins with 14, has won 20 Breeders’ Cup races, received 5 Eclipse Awards for his accomplishments, and his horses have won 25 year-end Eclipse Awards.

In 1999, the same year his horse Charismatic came within 2 lengths of the Triple Crown, Lukas was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 2013, Lukas was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit for his accomplishments.

Lukas – a horseman, a coach, and always a teacher – helped launch the careers of former assistants Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Dallas Stewart, Mark Hennig, Randy Bradshaw, Mike Maker, George Weaver, and Bobby Barnett.