D. Wayne Lukas

D. Wayne Lukas

Anne M. Eberhardt

Homecoming Classic Renamed to Honor Lukas

Churchill September meet to feature eight stakes with total purses of $1.025 million.

Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time winner of both the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), will be honored by Churchill Downs with the naming of a stakes race in his honor during its September meet that will feature eight stakes events with total purses of $1.025 million.

The $175,000 Lukas Classic, a listed race for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, was known as the Homecoming Classic during the first two years of September racing at Churchill. 

The Lukas Classic, introduced in 2013 and designed to be an autumn prep for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), shares the September meet stakes spotlight with events for juveniles that respectively launch the 2016 Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Longines Road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I): the $150,000 Iroquois (gr. III) for 2-year-olds and the $200,000 Pocahontas (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies. Both races will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track and each is included on the Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" Challenge Series schedule. Their respective winners will be guaranteed automatic starting spots in Breeders' Cup events on Oct. 31 at Keeneland in Lexington.

The 11-date September meet operates on a four-day, Thursday-through-Sunday weekly racing schedule with the exception of its first week. Opening day is Friday, Sept. 11 and the meet will conclude Sunday, Sept. 27. Regular post time for the meet will be 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern), with exceptions being 5 p.m. "Twilight Thursday" racing on Sept. 17 and 24 and the meet's lone "Downs After Dark" night racing celebration Saturday, Sept. 19 with a post time of 6 p.m.

The former Homecoming Classic is being renamed to salute Lukas' accomplishments, contributions and influence on Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, and the horse industry. The native of Antigo, Wis.a four-time Eclipse Award honoree as America's top trainerwill celebrate his 80th birthday Sept. 2. The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that now carries his name will be run for the third time on Saturday, Sept. 26. Reigning Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned  won its first running in 2013 and subsequently finished fourth at Santa Anita Park in his bid for a repeat Classic victory. The race was won last year by Cigar Street , who would finish seventh to Bayern  in the 2014 Classic at Santa Anita.

Lukas, who bases his stable at Churchill Downs Barn 44 through much of the year, has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, and trained a record 20 winners of Breeders' Cup Championship races. At Churchill Downs, Lukas ranks second in career stakes victories (73) and fourth in total wins (510).

"Along with the enormity of the numbers of his total victories, the stakes races he has won and earnings by his stable's horses throughout his Hall of Fame career, D. Wayne Lukas forever changed both the Kentucky Derby and North America's horse industry," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "It is Churchill Downs' honor to salute Wayne Lukas by placing his name on this race. We are enthusiastic about the potential of the Lukas Classic and believe it will very soon be an important annual stop for older horses who are working to prepare for and earn starting spots in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"We think the presence of Wayne Lukas' name on this race will enhance its attractiveness and its status. And we would love to see Mr. Lukas do one of the few things he has yet to do during his legendary career. Our team at Churchill Downs is confident that Wayne is a long way from entertaining any thoughts of retirement, and we hope that he will soon saddle a winner of this race, which would allow him—for the first time—to present a winner's trophy to himself."

CHURCHILL DOWNS SEPTEMBER MEET STAKES SCHEDULE
September 11-September 27

Date

Race (with purse & grade)

Division

Distance

Surface

Sat., Sept. 12

$200,000 Pocahontas (GII)

2YO Fillies

1 1/16 Miles

Dirt

 

$150,000 Iroquois (GIII)

2YO

1 1/16 Miles

Dirt

 

$100,000 Locust Grove (Listed)

3YO & Up Fillies & Mares

1 1/16 Miles

Dirt

 

$100,000 Open Mind

3YO & Up Fillies & Mares

6 Furlongs

Dirt

Sat., Sept. 19

$100,000 Dogwood (GIII)

3YO Fillies

7 Furlongs

Dirt

Sat., Sept. 26

$100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (GIII)

3YO & Up

1 Mile

Dirt

 

$175,000 Lukas Classic (Listed)

3YO & Up

1 1/8 Miles

Dirt

 

$100,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII)

3YO

1 Mile

Turf