ELMONT, N.Y. -- D. Wayne Lukas flew into New York yesterday with a string of racing stars, led by Thunder Gulch, his Kentucky Derby winner, who will force an immediate showdown with Cigar on Saturday in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup instead of waiting three weeks for the Breeders' Cup.
The trainer from California earlier had avoided a confrontation between Thunder Gulch and Cigar, who has won his last 10 races and has earned front ranking for the title Horse of the Year.
Lukas took Thunder Gulch to Kentucky while Cigar was winning the Woodward on Sept. 16, and he ran him a week later in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. Against mediocre opposition, Thunder Gulch won a close race.
The Kentucky Cup was the one race Thunder Gulch was supposed to run between the Travers and the Breeders' Cup Classic, two months apart, and he ran it without tangling with Cigar. But Lukas was not satisfied with it as the conditioner the colt needed, so he decided to head for New York and the Gold Cup.