D. Wayne Lukas is well known for his success as a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer, and during a recent trip to Texas A&M University in College Station, he was recognized not only for his success as a trainer, but also for his generosity in sharing a piece of racing history with students at Texas A&M.
During a ceremony on Oct. 12 recognizing donors to the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex at Texas A&M, Lukas was honored for donating more than 40 pictures of the 26 Eclipse-award winning horses that he trained to be on permanent display at the Hildebrand Complex. The display was dedicated as the “D. Wayne Lukas Gallery of Racing.”
The display features win pictures from major races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup, and represents a glimpse into an important aspect of the equine industry that students in Texas may not be exposed to. Dedicating the “D. Wayne Lukas Gallery of Racing,” was a special privilege for Dr. Jim Heird, Glenn Blodgett Equine Chair and coordinator of the Equine Initiative.
“We are honored to have Wayne support the Equine Initiative and our students at Texas A&M. The opportunity for our students and our community to walk through the gallery and be inspired and connected to the racing industry by these photos is a treasure for all of us,” said Heird.
The pictures Lukas donated are featured throughout the Dr. H.B. “Woody” Bartlett Recognition Hall and the Auditorium at the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex.
“We look forward to showing them off. Wayne is a great horseman and we are thrilled that his photos are now a staple in our complex,” said Heird.
During the ceremony, Lukas addressed the crowd about the special nature of the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, and the impact it will have for years to come.
“There is an opportunity to do things here that have so much magnitude,” said Lukas. “The excellence and commitment at this university is unmatched. This facility is the finest in the nation, and the opportunities for student learning here are boundless.”
“This is a day I’ll never forget.” said Lukas grinning. “This campus and this facility are beyond great.”
The crowd of honorees gave him a standing ovation as he left the podium after a rousing speech about Texas A&M, the equine complex and the commitment and excellence he saw when he arrived on campus.
Lukas started his horse-training career in 1968, training Quarter Horses in California. After successfully training 24 world champions in just 10 years, he switched to training Thoroughbreds. Lukas counts 20 Breeders’ Cup wins, and holds the record for the most Triple Crown race wins. For his accomplishments, he has been awarded five Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Trainer – a high honor in the equine industry. More recently, he was presented the Eclipse Award of Merit, which represents horse racing’s lifetime achievement award. In 1999, Lukas was officially inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and in 2007, was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
“Everyone honored here tonight has made an investment in the youth of America that is priceless. It is unbelievable what your gift will do for people for years to come, I’m going home and telling everyone they need to come and visit this place, you can’t describe it. There’s no way I can go back home to Kentucky and tell them what’s going on. They’re going to have to come down and look for themselves,” said Lukas.
Those who were honored for their service and generous donations, and those who simply attended to catch a glimpse of the hall of famer, rose to their feet to applaud and to show their appreciation for all he has done for the industry — a lifetime of commitment. As he turned to leave the podium he stepped back and said, “Let me leave you with one thought, live every day as if it’s your last, and someday it will be.”