LOUISVILLE, Ky. — D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer, is back at his Churchill Downs barn after recovering from COVID-19.
Lukas, who turns 85 on Wednesday, said he got “really sick.”
“I couldn’t get any air, and I felt like I was drifting away,” he said. “You just wish you could get one breath.”
Lukas isn’t sure how he contracted the coronavirus; he said he took such precautions as wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing and avoided dining out. He said his wife, who was caring for him, tested negative twice.
“You would’ve thought for sure she’d get it,” he said. “We rode it out, and I feel better now than I did a month ago.”
Lukas urged others to take the pandemic seriously and to protect themselves.
“I see people taking it lightly, and I think it’s a mistake, whether they’re my age or 20,” he said. “I’d wear my mask. I wouldn’t tempt fate.”
Lukas is based at Churchill Downs in the spring and summer, where he frequently accompanies his horses to the track atop a pony. He has won 14 Triple Crown races, most recently the 2013 Preakness with Oxbow. Lukas has 4,839 career victories and more than $282 million in purse earnings.
He has started 49 horses in the Derby — the second most in history — but doesn’t have an entry this year. His last Derby runner was two years ago.