LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When favored 3-year-old filly Liberty Isle drew away to a three-length win in the final race of the September Meet on Sunday, Dallas Stewart, 62, became the 21st trainer in Churchill Downs history to win 300 races at the Louisville track including 17 stakes.
Before venturing out on his own, Dallas Stewart spent 12 years working under the tutelage of leading trainer D. Wayne Lukas. There, he oversaw such horses as Lady’s Secret, Thunder Gulch, Serena’s Song, Timber Country and Tabasco Cat along with other Grade I winners.
After serving as an assistant to Lukas, Stewart started his own stable in 1997. Stewart won his first race at Churchill Downs on Oct. 26, 1997, with Squall Valley. His first stakes win came at Turfway Park with Rod and Staff in the Prairie Bayou Stakes.
Having just placed second at Churchill Downs in an allowance when Stewart assumed training duties of the horse the pair followed up with a third place in the GIII Clark Handicap in 1997. He would again win the Clark with Seeking the Soul in 2017.
In 1999, Stewart won the GII Louisiana Derby with Kimberlite Pipe. He followed that up with a Silk and Sapphire victory in the GIII Prioress at Belmont. His 2000 stakes performers included Dollar Bill’s Kentucky Jockey Club win and Triple Crown run in all three legs.
Stewart’s stable earned more than $3.8 million in 2001, topped by Unbridled Elaine’s payday for his first win in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Adding to his earnings in 2001 were the successful finishes of Nasty Storm in the GII Churchill Downs Distaff Handicap and GII Dogwood Stakes. Again, with Nasty Storm Stewart won the GII Gallant Bloom at Belmont in 2002.
Stewart would win his first race at Saratoga in 2008 with Macho Again in the GII Jim Dandy. Macho Again was second to Big Brown in the 2008 Preakness. Tale of the Verve finished second to eventual Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah in 2015.
Notable wins at Churchill Downs were the 2006 GI Kentucky Oaks with Lemons Forever (the longest shot to ever win the race) and the 2009 GI Stephen Foster with Macho Again.
Golden Soul finished second to winner Orb in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. The following year Stewart was runner up again in the Derby with Commanding Curve. Retired from racing in 2016, Commanding Curve is now in training with Olympic equestrian Phillip Dutton.
With John Velazquez in the irons Stewart would win his second Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2017 with Forever Unbridled, who finished third the previous year. His Breeders’ Cup success continued with Seeking the Soul’s second in the 2018 Dirt Mile.
Stewart was the leading trainer at Keeneland in 2000 and, also, in 2020.
Liberty Isle giving Dallas Stewart 300th win at Churchill Downs. (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)
In 2021 the seasoned conditioner has won three graded stakes: the GIII Louisiana Stakes at the Fairgrounds on January 16 with Title Ready; the GIII Honeybee at Oaklawn with Will’s Secret on March 6; and the GII New Orleans Classic at the Fair Grounds on March 20 with Chess Chief. Recently Chess Chief ran in the GIII Lukas Classic won by Knicks Go. Chess Chief finished fifth. But he ran in honor of Stewart’s mentor.
Stewart has 206 starts for 2021 with 35 wins, 28 seconds and 30 thirds with earnings of $3,156,722.
Overall, Stewart has won 910 races and his horses have amassed $57.3 million from 6,430 starts during a 26-year training career that began at Fair Grounds in New Orleans in 1985.
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Past The Wire Staff
Photo: Trainer Dallas Stewart’s pinned Tweet with one of his trainees posted to Twitter on September 27 with the caption “I love my job!”