D. Wayne Lukas has saddled a horse in every Breeders' Cup.

D. Wayne Lukas has saddled a horse in every Breeders' Cup.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Trainer Lukas: He's Seen Them All

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Breeders' Cup, and only one trainer has saddled horses in each rendition of racing's biggest day. D. Wayne Lukas, in addition to his vast success in Triple Crown events, is by far the winningest Breeders' Cup conditioner.

Having sent 137 horses postward in 19 years, Lukas has enjoyed the winner's circle on 17 occasions. He has placed 2nd an additional 20 times, and has been third 14 times, earning more than $18.6 million on Breeders' Cup days. It is an event he wouldn't think of missing.

"I always thought it was going to get big," said Lukas at the post position draw Wednesday. "I saw the draft of the first contract and I distinctly remember telling my son Jeff that we needed to watch this thing, that it was going to be bigger than even they thought it would be. I loved the idea of exposing all types of racehorses -- dirt, grass, sprinters, whatever, to the public.

"Now, in its 20th year, Breeders' Cup has a certain amount of credibility and has become a championship series. The first four or five years nobody automatically anointed the winners champions, but now if you win a Breeders' Cup race you're pretty hard to unseat the rest of the season.

"There has been some grumbling about entry fees, and I don't think those are going to come down, but I think purses will grow and sponsorships will pick up. I think now it could go to a new level, a NASCAR-type thing. It's solid now and getting better than it's been."

Lukas was very high on the chances of Race for Glory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The Cavonnier Stakes winner is flying under the radar, and Lukas compared him to Commendable, his Belmont Stakes (gr, I) winner of 2000. The trainer has a pair of hopefuls in the Juvenile Fillies, sending forward Alcibiades Stakes (gr. III) victor Be Gentle as well as the well-bred Renaissance Lady.