Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who will saddle Optimizer in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, was taken to Winthrop University Hospital in nearby Mineola Tuesday afternoon after one of his horses reared up and struck him on top of his head.
“I don’t need this on Belmont week, but I guess these things happen,” Lukas said from the hospital. “I will be fine, it’s just a matter of getting it cleaned up. I fully expect to be at the track tomorrow.”
According to Ron Anderson, the agent for Optimizer’s jockey, Corey Nakatani, Lukas was in the barn at Belmont Park around 3:30 p.m. when 6-year-old Hamazing Destiny reared up and struck him atop the head.
“He’s conscious, he’s talking, but he will need stitches,” said Anderson, who was at the hospital with Lukas.
The 76-year-old Lukas is one of the most successful trainers in racing history, with four Kentucky Derby victories, five wins in the Preakness, and four in the Belmont Stakes. He has trained 24 Eclipse Award winners, more than any other trainer in history, and has sent out 4,467 winners of more than $259 million. The four-time Eclipse Award winner was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1999.