ARCADIA, Calif. -- Jeff Lukas, an assistant trainer credited by his father for developing and preparing Winning Colors for victory at the 1988 Kentucky Derby, was listed in "serious but stable" condition with head injuries yesterday after being knocked down by a loose horse at Santa Anita.
Lukas, 36, is the son and right-hand man of D. Wayne Lukas, who has led the nation in purse money for the past 10 years.
After talking with doctors at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Wayne Lukas said that his son suffered multiple fractures at the base of the skull and was hemorrhaging. The elder Lukas said the hospital took one CAT scan and would take another, probably today. Jeff Lukas was sedated and reported to be on a respirator, and there was concern about hyperventilation.
Lukas' condition was first listed as critical, but late yesterday, Peggy Yost, business manager for the Lukas racing stable, said he was "serious, but stable."
About 9 a.m. yesterday, Lukas was rushed to the hospital by helicopter, not long after Tabasco Cat, a rangy 2-year-old colt, deflected off the horseman after getting loose from handlers following his exercise at the track.
"They were switching him from a bridle to a halter when he reared up and got loose," said trainer Mike Smith, who had walked back from the track with Lukas. "Jeff got right out in front of the horse and tried to stop him. The horse probably had a 40-yard head start by the time he got to Jeff. The horse hit Jeff full bore, spun him around and flipped him to the ground. The road's hard there, and it's been harder because it's been packed down by the rain. It looked to me like the horse's hind legs also kicked Jeff in the head as he went by."
The impact was heard three barns away, according to other horsemen.
Tabasco Cat is a stakes-winning colt who earned $120,000 last month for finishing third in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The horse reportedly was captured elsewhere in the barn area.
Since 1983, Jeff Lukas has frequently been responsible for the stable's horses at Eastern tracks, especially New York, while his father managed the California division.