Churchill Downs has released the stakes schedule for its September meet, which will include the renamed $175,000 Lukas Classic–named in honor of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, designed to be a prep for the GI Breeders' Cup Classic, was introduced in 2013 and was previously named the Homecoming Classic.
“Along with the enormity of the numbers of his total victories, the stakes races he has won and earnings by his stable's horses throughout his Hall of Fame career, D. Wayne Lukas forever changed both the Kentucky Derby and North America's horse industry,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, said of Lukas–a four-time winner of both the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks. “It is Churchill Downs' honor to salute Wayne Lukas by placing his name on this race. We are enthusiastic about the potential of the Lukas Classic and believe it will very soon be an important annual stop for older horses who are working to prepare for and earn starting spots in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
“We think the presence of Wayne Lukas's name on this race will enhance its attractiveness and its status. And we would love to see Mr. Lukas do one of the few things he has yet to do during his legendary career. Our team at Churchill Downs is confident that Wayne is a long way from entertaining any thoughts of retirement, and we hope that he will soon saddle a winner of this race, which would allow him–for the first time–to present a winner's trophy to himself.”
Also highlighting the Churchill September meet are the GII Pocahontas S. and GIII Iroquois S.–for juvenile fillies and males, respectively–which will be held Sept. 12 and carry “Win and You're In” status for the Breeders' Cup as well as qualifying points for the 2016 Derby and Oaks.
A total of eight stakes worth $1.025 million are slated for the September meet, which begins Sept. 11 and ends Sept. 27.