NEW YORK (AP) -- Even a kick in the head couldn’t keep D. Wayne Lukas away, not with the Belmont Stakes coming up on Saturday.
The Hall of Fame trainer reported to work as usual Wednesday morning, sporting an angry red gash across his left temple. Lukas got hurt a day earlier when one of his horses reared up and struck him. He was taken to a hospital where a plastic surgeon stitched the wound.
Hours later, Lukas was back on a pony, preparing 20-1 shot Optimizer for the Belmont.
"The bad part is I still have a headache," he said. "The good part is I got a date with the head nurse, and sold two doctors horses while I was there."
While he could joke the day after, the incident was no laughing matter at the time for the 76-year-old, who has won four Belmonts.
"The big thing is they couldn’t get the bleeding stopped, even at the hospital," Lukas said. "I wasn’t scared, but I was sitting here pressing it with a dirty old towel. They took a CAT scan and I’m sure there’s a little concussion. I’ve had injuries with horses before, but never had one paw me in the head."
After sitting up all night icing the injury, Lukas went back to work.
"I rode out and back with all my horses. I don’t miss," he said. "I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. By the time I trained the fourth horse, I was ready to get off the pony. That jarring didn’t help much this morning."
"The racetracks here are getting a percentage of the slots money at Aqueduct," he said. "I’m going to vote we don’t give it to the racetracks but to the highway department to get the roads fixed. In the back of that thing hitting those potholes I thought if I wasn’t hurt by the horse, I’m going to be killed by this thing. We hit some potholes and I thought we were airborne."