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Paulick Report Reveals Heart Warming Win Pic Story; Lukas Picks Lil’ Person Out Of Crown When He Wins

By Warren Eves

Let’s hope horse racing bigwigs read Tuesday’s Paulick Report.

Each day Ray Paulick’s Headline News, sponsored by Spendthrift Farm, features horse racing issues on the internet.

The sixth item down read on Tuesday was titled: “Lukas: Continuing winner’s circle tradition at the Spa.”

It caught my attention.  The story was about a little girl I saw in the winner’s circle after Lukas had won Sunday’s fifth at Saratoga with a two-year-old filly.

Paulick continued: “Heading to the winner’s circle, Lukas spotted a young girl with her family and asked if she would like to join him in the post-race photo.”

We actually took took note when Lukas won that race with a filly named Broken Spell.  The reason was Lukas was ending a losing streak.  At the time I thought maybe the young girl in the circle might be a grand daughter.  Now we know.

Paulick’s story revealed Lukas has been doing this sort of thing for years.  He mentions how excited the people get once they are in the charmed circle with the winning horse.  It’s an experience most people never forget.  Boy is Wayne right about that!

Paulick went on to say: “Lukas said the little girl he brought down to the winner’s circle Sunday innocently asked him, “What do you do here?”  And I said, ‘I work here.  I take care of the horses.’  And she said, ‘Oh, good.  Can I touch him?  And I said, ‘When he gets here, we’ll take the saddle off and you can touch him.’  She had no idea that I have ever won a race any other place or even knew anything about the horse.”

How cool is that?  Paulick revealed something I did not know.  When Wayne takes these young people back to their parents after the winners’ circle experience he takes it further.  Lukas tells them they can go to the photographer’s office later on get a free copy of the winners’ circle picture.  Wayne, like all trainers, has an account with the track photog.  So what happens?  The parents usually wind up buying several more prints because of who is in the picture.  Stop and think about this now.  He’s giving a young person an up close experience he or she will remember for the rest of their lives.

I was so touched by the article I attempted to respond in the space Paulick gives you on line.  It’s something I have done for quite some time–especially when the subject matter grabs hold of me.  I got a little wordy in my on-line Paulick reply.  When I couldn’t return to the top to change something I erased it all.  I decided to write a column about the little girl and Lukas in the Saratoga winners’ circle.

Lukas and I go way back.  I remember the day when he left the quarter horses at Los Alamitos and moved up to Arcadia to Santa Anita Park.  Wayne, a master of using publicity for his own good, would change the appearance of the way shedrows looked.  I will forever remember how he planted grass outside his shedrow, something nobody else did.  A walk down his shed had to impress.  His horses always were standing in knee deep straw.  He was first to use white halters.  He set the trend, and he got a lot of attention in the process.

Why did the Paulick story touch me so much?  Here’s why.  Several years ago when Ron Charles was the CEO at Santa Anita working for Frank Stronach I urged him to install a young people program at the once great race place.  I suggested Santa Anita work with a local school district to institute an on and off racetrack program.  I suggested one large barn be totally dedicated as a haven where young people could come at any time to work with and around the horses.   That’s right, brush them, walk them, and learn while up close how to be around them.  I can’t tell you how many times I tried to institute youth programs like this over the years.  One year at Saratoga Harness my boss Ernie B. Morris allowed me to stage a “Family Jubilee.”  It was a rousing success to say the least.

We also suggested Santa Anita Park construct another barn away from the live venue where young people could do the same thing.  The expense would be the cost of paying racetrack retirees to run both barns.  It’s been my thinking for a long time that racetracks need to go far beyond these tram tours through the stable areas.  I insisted the more we let young kids actually touch the horse, the more interest there would be later on.

Of course the usual opposition came from the higher ups at the racetrack who feared liability issues could be too costly.  I urged them to take that risk because I had seen what happens when young people do get to actually feel and touch and lead a horse around.  It’s magical.

Nothing ever came of my efforts to get Charles and/or Santa Anita to invest in such a plan.  So when I saw the Paulick story today I knew I had to take it further.

I’m a former publicity man who has brought many people up to and close to the horse.  I know how magical that experience always has been.  I’m willing to bet that young lady that Lukas took to the winners’ enclosure this past weekend will never forget it.

When I was Turf Editor of the Pasadena Star News there were some Saturday’s when I really didn’t have a “led item.”  That’s when I usually headed over to the Lukas shedrow after training hours.  These were the days when Wayne knew the value of media.  We’d walk down his neatly manicured shedrow.  Sooner than later, he’d stop in front of a horse’s stall.  He’d bring something that was usually news worthy about a horse or the horse’s owner I could use.

Lukas may be old and in the twilight of a great career.  What’s the old saying, we can learn from our elders?

Notes scribbled across my official program–Remington carded two divisions of the Red Earth Stakes on the lawn August 17.  Pacar won the second division with ease and ran two full seconds faster for the 7-1/2 furlong distance than first division winner Strategic Leader.  Pacar covered the distance in 1:29.03.  He’s an Oklahoma-bred son of Fast Play and the race couldn’t have taken much out of him.  Slow early.  Pacar cornered well on first turn to go from last to get in the race.  Sixth off the top, once to the outside he responded to win by three lengths.  He’s trained by J.R. Caldwell…………………When Sonofasamurai won race two impressively on the lawn August 18 it validated our opinion of a Ken McPeek sophomore named Java’s War. Charles Fipke’s leggy colt lost a ton of ground when breaking his maiden back on July 8 over a route of ground over the Ellis Park lawn.  His way of going late impressed us to be sure……………..If you happened to watch the Arlington Million I watched the winners’ circle with great interest.  Little Mike couldn’t have been more of a complete gentleman with all the people jamming into the picture taking circle.  Sometimes these equines simply amaze us on and off the racetrack.  ”His two best races were at a mile and an eighth so when you go three-quarters like he did you’re going to be tough to beat,” said trainer Dale Romans…………………..Why does nearly every officer have to use “from front to back” in their calls?  Come on guys, have your own style……………………Really liked the manner which Malcolm Franklin rode his filly out to the wire in the first race at Ellis Park on August 19.  We see too many jockeys who are passive when all appears lost.  Jockey agent Vince DeGregory has preached to his riders over the years to have the stick in your left hand in crunch time.  Why?  Because most rider whip right-handed.  I cannot count the number of races are lost that I watch on a daily basis which are lost because a jock is urging only right-handed……………Pleasant Cat looks like a promising sort for Empire Equines.  The Tale of the Cat filly is out of a Pleasant Colony mare named Valdivia.  She broke with her head up and was not away well.  Pleasant Cat had one foe beat early and when the field turned for home she was far out of it.  She made up a significant amount of ground in the run to the wire in her first career start on the lawn…………….Since I’m monitoring the races at Remington due to the large fields, I made note of a trainer by the name of  Federico Villafranco.  He’s done real well in the first four days of the meet at that Oklahoma racing oval……………At the end of Paulick’s Lukas feature today on the Paulick Report he mentions the following about D. Wayne Lukas: “I was standing there at the Derby this year, and this kid comes up and says ‘do you remember me.  And his parents were standing back.  He came by himself.  We shook hands and I said, no I don’t remember you.  Should I?  And he said: “Oh yeah, We had our picture taken together last year.  I have it up on my bulletin board.”  Yes, Wayne, we do need to do much more of that sort of thing……………..Now that Bodemeister is retired do you think Bob Baffert may be criticized like so many other trainers might?  Remember he took an unusual path with Bodemeister but what writer out there would like to take him to task for the end result?  He made it to the post only six times and that earnings per start figure of $217.467 doesn’t mean squat when comparing them to horses in previous years when pots were much smaller.  Second in the Preakness and Kentucky Derby inflate those numbers………………..Did you see the story about Mary Kay Papen, the Las Cruces, N.M. politico?  ”We don’t need to be known as a crooked horse racing state.  Horse racing is too important in this state.”  At least she knows how much the industry contributes to state coffers…………….Mark Singelais just told me Java’s War was nominated to the Anticipation at Saratoga on August 30.  He’s a colt who was so……impressive breaking his maiden.  Wondered where he had gone but Ken McPeek obviously thinks highly of him also.

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About The Author

Warren Eves
Warren Eves is a senior turf writer from the state of California who calls Pearl River, Louisiana his home. The one time editor of the Pasadena Independent Star News moved on to handle publicity for racetracks coast to coast. Eves gained his first exposure to the racetrack through a school buddy the late Art Lerille, Jr., who eventually became a trainer in California. Warren worked as farm manager for crack two-year-old trainer Ray Priddy, before holding on track jobs at the racetrack. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer M.E. "Buster" Millerick, Allen Drumheller, Jr., and Dick Moon. Eves has a well rounded background in all breeds. He developed Quarter Horse Report in 1979 with Ed Burgart, track announcer, at Los Alamitos Race Course. It was an innovative publication which revolutionized the industry with actual descriptions of the workouts. While handling publicity at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York Eves was named employee of the year in 1970. He also handled publicity for Sunland Park, Centennial Park, Ascot Park, Thistledown, and two harness meetings in California. Eves then went into the 900-line business with his best plays and has compiled his own Kentucky Derby ratings for many years. In 1997 he began going back and forth to Las Vegas teaming up with Ralph Siraco to create the long runining radio show Raceday Las Vegas. Eves has produced and directed many horse racing shows on both radio and television. In 2010 he got a call from Mark Geiger. That's when he began writing www.pricehorsecentral.com. Eves, with a reputation of a trip handicapper, is known for his video tape scrutiny. He currently monitors horse racing in for a major horseplayer. While writing for Ridder Publication at the Pasadena Star News his investigative reporting was highly regarded by his peers. Often on the cutting edge, Eves has been given the green light to write about what issues he sees fit to cover. Have a question. His book "Hold All Tickets" is soon to be made available for those who come to this site. It's a factual account of actual events and happenings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If Warren doesn't know the answer to a question you may have, he'll tell you up front. Eves won't drop it there, however, he'll find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.

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