Belmont notes: D. Wayne Lukas kicked in head by horse, says 'I will be fine.'

awincze@herald-leader.comJune 5, 2012 

ELMONT, N.Y. — Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who will saddle Optimizer in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, was taken to Winthrop University Hospital in nearby Mineola on Tuesday afternoon after one of his horses reared up and struck him on top of his head.

"I don't need this on Belmont week, but I guess these things happen," Lukas said from the hospital. "I will be fine; it's just a matter of getting it cleaned up. I fully expect to be at the track tomorrow."

Ron Anderson, agent for Optimizer's jockey, Corey Nakatani, said Lukas, 74, was in the barn at Belmont Park about 3:30 p.m. when 6-year-old Hamazing Destiny reared up and struck him atop the head.

"He's conscious, he's talking, but he will need stitches," said Anderson, who was at the hospital with Lukas.

Moving day pushed back for I'll Have Another

Trainer Doug O'Neill said Tuesday that Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another will not move into the new Belmont security barn until Wednesday morning.

O'Neill had planned to transfer I'll Have Another to the security barn after training on Tuesday, but a media obligation in Manhattan would have prevented him from being able to oversee the move.

"I want to be here when that happens, and as of earlier, they weren't ready anyway (in Barn 2)," O'Neill said. "It looks like now tomorrow after he trains, he'll cool out over there and we'll move then."

O'Neill said Lava Man, his former stable star who is now the barn's lead pony, will not join I'll Have Another in the security barn as originally planned.

"We went over there yesterday, and I think it would just be too nerve-wracking for him," O'Neill said. "We're going to leave him here (in Barn 9) and he'll still chaperone him in the mornings. But I'll Have Another is such a relaxed, cool horse, and I worry Lava Man might get a little anxious and I'll Have Another will wonder what his big brother is all anxious about."

Last week, officials with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced plans to move all the Belmont Stakes contenders into one barn in order to enforce heightened security measures. The only horse in the barn on Tuesday morning was Ravelo's Boy, fifth in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby.

My Adonis joining field

The owners of My Adonis said Tuesday that their colt would run Saturday, bringing the prospective field to 12. Ramon Dominguez is expected to ride.

My Adonis' owners, George and Lori Hall, won last year's Belmont with 24-1 shot Ruler On Ice.

My Adonis was third in his most recent start, the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico on May 19, the same day that I'll Have Another won the Preakness. My Adonis is trained by Kelly Breen.

The Halls will be trying to become the first owners to register back-to-back wins in the Belmont since Riva Ridge and Secretariat won in 1972 and 1973 for Meadow Stable.

Belmont workers threaten strike

A mediator is trying to settle a labor dispute between the New York Racing Association and maintenance and starting gate workers.

About 150 union members at NYRA's Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks have been working without a contract since February 2011, a year after the previous contract was given a one-year extension. Last month, the workers authorized a strike to begin Friday, a day before the running of the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel in the Triple Crown.

Vincent McElroen, financial secretary for Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, denied that the union waited until the week before the Belmont Stakes to threaten a labor action.

"We've been trying to get a deal for two years now," he said from the union local's headquarters in Queens. "The workers are just completely frustrated. No one's looking to disrupt the Belmont Stakes."

The NYRA said in a statement, "It is extremely self-serving for Local 3 to use the attention and excitement of a Triple Crown attempt to further its own agenda."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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