With his Triple Crown streak at a record five straight victories, trainer D. Wayne Lukas already has his mind on No. 6. And maybe No. 7 and No. 8, as well.
“We sure have started thinking about it,” Lukas said Sunday morning after Thunder Gulch’s Belmont Stakes victory on Saturday gave the trainer a record fifth consecutive win in the series. “We’ve got good 2-year-olds, so we ought to be in the Derby.”
Even should Lukas fail to win the next Derby, his five-race streak, which started with Tabasco Cat’s wins in the 1994 Preakness and Belmont, appears to be a virtually unbreakable record.
A trainer either would have to have two or more colts with Triple Crown ability - as Lukas did - or win two consecutive Triple Crowns with one horse. No 3-year-old has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed became the 11th to do it in 1978.
It was a big weekend for the 59-year-old Lukas. He won the Mother Goose for 3-year-old fillies Friday at Belmont, won the Riva Ridge with Western Larla on the Belmont card, and also on Saturday his horses won races at Churchill Downs and posted seconds in races at Monmouth Park and Suffolk Downs.
There was disappointment, too.
Not long after returning to his barn following Serena’s Song’s victory in the Mother Goose, Lukas announced that Belmont favorite Timber Country would not start in the race because of a 104-degree fever.
“That’s just the way it goes,” Lukas said of the Preakness winner’s fever, which was reduced quickly by medication. “When you sign up, you know these kinds of things are going to happen.”
Into the Belmont breach stepped Thunder Gulch, just as he did in winning the Kentucky Derby where traffic problems hurt Timber Country, who finished third, and where a fast pace did in Serena’s Song, 16th.
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