Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas called Nadal and American Theorem “house guests” after they shipped into his Oaklawn barn shortly before the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds March 14.
Lukas took both Southern California-based horses to the track to train during their brief stay in Hot Springs and watched Nadal remain unbeaten in three lifetime starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Lukas recently welcomed another house guest to his Royal Glint barn, but Come Dancing will be sticking around much longer. And this time, Lukas will be calling the shots as the trainer of record for Come Dancing, a millionaire Grade 1 winner who is scheduled to make her 2020 debut in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 18, Lukas said Tuesday morning.
Previously with New York-based trainer Carlos Martin, Come Dancing arrived at Oaklawn about “10-12 days ago,” Lukas said, and recorded her first published local work toward the Apple Blossom Tuesday. Under Yoni Hernandez, an exercise rider for Lukas, Come Dancing breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.60. The track was rated muddy on a chilly, overcast morning.
Lukas said fellow trainer Dale Romans suggested Martin, grandson of the late Hall of Fame trainer, Frank “Pancho” Martin, send Come Dancing to Lukas in Arkansas. Romans also trains for breeder/owner Marc Holliday (Blue Devil Racing Stable)
“Usually when the show up in the barn, there's a problem and they want you to correct it,” said Lukas, who annually winters at Oaklawn. “They don't usually come in looking like she does and working like she does.”
Come Dancing, a five-time stakes winner, hasn't started since finishing sixth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) – her only career race outside New York – Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. The 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon had been poised for an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter after winning the $500,00 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (G1) Aug. 24 at Saratoga and the $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) Sept. 22 at Belmont Park. Overall, Come Dancing has won 8 of 14 career starts and earned $1,064,950.
“She's impressive,” Lukas said. “I've had a number of, something like 19 Eclipse-champion fillies, and she fits the mold.”
Lukas said Come Dancing's training will be straightforward for the Apple Blossom, among the country's most prestigious two-turn races for older fillies and mares.
“She'll get a couple of more works,” Lukas said. “We'll school her and stand her and do all the usual.”
Lukas won the Apple Blossom in 1983 (Miss Huntington), 1987 (North Sider) and 2004 (Azeri). Miss Huntington represented the first of Lukas' 322 career victories to date at Oaklawn.
Martin's late father, Jose, trained three Eclipse Award winners, including Wayward Lass, who, in 1981, finished third in Oaklawn's $200,000 Fantasy Stakes (G1) en route to champion 3-year-old filly honors.
“I knew them all through my association with New York racing,” Lukas said of the Martin family.
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