BALTIMORE -- D. Wayne Lukas sat at the podium at the victors' news conference Saturday evening, waiting for his jockey to arrive.
"I don't mind waiting," Lukas said with a smile as wide as Oxbow's winning margin in the Preakness Stakes. "It's going to be a long night."
Lukas had just won his 14th Triple Crown race as a trainer, a record. No wonder he didn't mind waiting for Gary Stevens. He had waited since that last Triple Crown win, way back in 2000.
And then, before he could be asked a question, Lukas posed one of his own, just musing at the microphone: "Is this a great country or what?"
Lukas is 77. Stevens is 50. When at last they appeared on the podium together, they were the Sunshine Boys, all big laughs and big smiles.
Gary, are you the first grandfather to win a Triple Crown race?
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear that," he said, feigning that he couldn't make out the question. Then: "I guarantee you I am the first grandfather winner of a Triple Crown race."
At that point Lukas posed as a reporter and asked his jockey when he thought he had the race won.
"In these classic races," Stevens said, "you don't give up anything they give you for free, and they gave me a free three-quarters of a mile today, and I was smiling pretty good midway down the backside."
The trainer and the jockey weren't the only ones all smiles. Their horse was, too.
"Wayne Lukas has this whole thing he tells jockeys with instructions. 'Take about five pounds of pressure on those reins, put a little smile on their face and give them some confidence,' " Stevens said. "That kept ringing in my ear when I was in the starting gate today, just making (Oxbow) comfortable and put a smile on his face.
"And he had that smile on his face for a long ways today."
Lukas had a smile of his own as he said how proud he was of breaking the record of 13 Triple Crown wins that he had shared with Sunny Fitzsimmons. And then, another joke: "It's probably going to be on Trivial Pursuit in about five minutes."
Stevens would make a good answer in the old board game as well. He had been retired for seven years, even gone to broadcasting Triple Crown races on NBC, before coming back this year.
"It doesn't get any better than this," he said. "This is super, super sweet and it happened for the right guy. All the stars were aligned."
And the moon, too -- Orb, son of Malibu Moon, the big favorite, finished fourth. Stevens was surprised he didn't get a challenge from Orb, or any other horse, in the stretch.
"I couldn't believe that no one challenged me going into the far turn," Stevens said, "but when no one did, I said, 'I think everybody's in trouble right now.' "
And then, as a hint that Oxbow can run well in the mile-and-a-half Belmont in three weeks, he said: "A lot of critics are going to think I'm full of it for saying this, but I won with a little something left, believe it or not."
Stevens played a jockey as a TV and movie actor during his brief retirement. His smile Saturday was no act: "It's just funny how things go. But one race can boost your spirits, doesn't matter if you're 16 or 50."
By the end of his portion of the news conference, Lukas was equally ebullient. Asked about advice he would give to anyone who wanted to be a trainer, he spoke of the young guys who say they'll clean stalls just to be close to the action.
"It's not a 9-to-5 job," Lukas said. "The most important thing is to have a complete, unquestionable passion for the industry and what you want to do. Then I tell them, don't get married. You can have a trainer's license or a marriage license."
Warm laughter washed the room.
"Any superlatives you'd like to use on Oxbow," Lukas added with his 14-win smile, "just feel free."