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Lukas back on the scene with longshot

ELMONT, N.Y. -- After passing the first two legs of the Triple Crown for the first time in more than two decades, trainer D. Wayne Lukas arrived at Belmont Park Wednesday with his Belmont Stakes longshot Buckle Down Ben. Lukas is looking to pull an upset that might surpass the one he registered last year when 18-1 shot Commendable gave Lukas his fourth Belmont winner.

D. Wayne Lukas
Lukas returns to the Triple Crown with longshot Buckle Down Ben.
Buckle Down Ben, who won the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity last year when he was trained by Steve Klesaris, is coming off a second-level allowance win on May 27 at Churchill Downs.

"He's obviously a horse that will be overlooked by a lot of people," said Lukas, whose horse was beaten 25 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Spiral Stakes two starts back. "You look at the last race, that was significant: it was a good time, it was a good number. But it wasn't against the best of the division. It was at Churchill, it was one turn, so there's a lot of negatives you could point to.

"But I think he will make a strong showing. He's a horse that's doing very good. I'm not going to stand here and say he's going to win the Belmont. And if he wins it, I'm not going to stand here and say I told you so. But I think he deserves a shot. The Belmont winner a lot of times fits a whole different scenario than the other two legs of this thing."

Lukas had his 20-year streak of running at least one horse in the Kentucky Derby snapped this year. He also did not start a horse in the Preakness for only the second time since 1985.

"We did pass the Derby and the Preakness without any problems because it wasn't realistic," Lukas said. "I looked at the field and we just weren't going to be a force, and we had to accept that."

Lukas said he watched the Kentucky Derby from owner William T. Young's box seat at Churchill Downs. He said he watched the Preakness from the living room of his Southern California home - in between bouts of yard work.

"I thought Point Given looked to me like the logical Derby winner," Lukas said. "He looks like the logical winner here, but logic goes right out the window here."