THE REMARKABLE D. WAYNE LUKAS

Saturday night, septuagenarian basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski retired after 42 years at Duke University when his team was narrowly defeated in the Final Four by the University of North Carolina.  His record at Duke is five national titles and 13 Final Fours.  Another former college basketball coach turned Hall of Fame racehorse trainer is eleven years older than “Coach K” and shows no signs of stepping down.

At a juncture in life when most 86-year-olds are long retired, D. Wayne Lukas, aka “the coach,” has a strong hand for the 2022 Kentucky Oaks with Secret Oath and a live prospect for the Kentucky Derby in Ethereal Road, who will be prepping in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 9.

When legendary trainer James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons won two legs of the Triple Crown with Nashua in 1955 and won the Preakness with Bold Ruler (sire of Secretariat) in 1958, much was made in the media of the fact he was in his 80s, born in 1874.  Then in 1989, Charlie Whittingham became the oldest trainer to win a Kentucky Derby (with Sunday Silence) at age 76.

Fast forward to 2022 and octogenarian trainer Wayne Lukas is on the verge of having competitive entries in both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.  One only has to listen to Lukas in conversation to discern that his mental faculties are sharp.  Being mounted on a horse on the backside of a racetrack at the crack of dawn every morning evidently does wonders for cheating the aging process.

In the 2020 U. S. presidential election both major-party candidates were well into their 70s.  The current Speaker of the House is 82.  Coach K bowed out at 75.  Wayne Lukas is older than all of them. Time eventually catches up with everyone, but here’s hoping Wayne Lukas is only at the top of the home stretch.

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