Lukas Basks In Preakness Afterglow

Preakness winner Seize the Grey is shown to D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert, Mark Toothaker and Spendthrift's Ned Toffey | Christina Bossinakis


Baltimore, MD–The journey from the First Saturday in May through the Preakness can be an arduous one, fraught with activity and often times challenges that can try the most steady nerves. Young and old alike could be heard complaining about exhaustion by the time they made it through Preakness day, however, for some, it provided enough buoyancy to raise the Titanic. Such was the case with D. Wayne Lukas Sunday morning, the day after his colt Seize the Grey (Arrogate) wired the second jewel in the Triple Crown. Despite the haul, in addition to launching his day at 3 a.m., the 88-year-old was in good form, accommodating the periodic wave of visitors passing by the barn. And there was a definite twinkle in his eye. Something only a seventh Preakness win, and his 15th Classic overall, can inspire.

“He looked really good [this morning],” enthused Lukas, seated in his customary spot outside the track room. “He was the first one out. He looked very sharp. I think he knew he won.”

According to Lukas, both the Preakness winner, and Just Steel (Justify), would ship out of Baltimore Monday. Just Steel, fifth behind his stablemate, sustained a condylar fracture to his right foreleg during the race. Lukas indicated that the GI Belmont S., which will be held at Saratoga this year, was a likely target for Seize the Grey.

“I would have to see a good energy level and that soundness, we would go,” he said. “If I had to make a decision today, we would go. But I'll give it a couple of days. That's just common sense.”

He added, “He'll go back to Churchill before heading to New York, should it be decided to run in the Belmont. I'm sure that Todd [Pletcher] and Chad [Brown], with the depth they've got in their stables, will be involved. And that's their own backyard. Given the fact that it's a mile and a quarter, I think it makes it more enticing.”

D. Wayne Lukas, Ned Toffey, Mark Toothaker and Bob Baffert | Christina Bossinakis

Later in the morning, Kenny McPeek, seated on a tackbox with new-found celebrity Sonny afoot, was clearly a bit deflated following Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (Goldencents)'s runner-up finish the day before. Despite the disappointment of having a possible Triple Crown run dashed, the trainer gave all the credit to the man who beat him.

“He is amazing. He is super human,” he said of Lukas. “I don't see myself, at 88, doing what he is doing. No shot. He is fearless, and I think that is why he wins races like this. He has done it many times because he is so fearless. I have done it a few times myself, but not at the level he has done it.”

Also making an appearance later in the morning (needless to say it was much later than Wayne's appearance Sunday), Bob Baffert arrived with his wife Jill to get a look at his own team, including Imagination (Into Mischief), who finished seventh at odds of 4-1. The colt was ridden by Frankie Dettori.

“I talked to Frankie after the race. He broke really well. He said, 'In hindsight, I probably should have just gone.' It didn't work out. We'll just have to get him back home. But he came out of it well.”

“I think I've finally figured out what he wants to do. I have been thinking about taking the blinkers off because he's been working so well sitting off a horse. We had that in our mind. He's still pretty immature. He just broke so well. I think if Frankie had to do it again, he would have just let him run. You live and learn. I don't know if we would have beat the winner, he was very good. But this horse still needs to catch up.”

Baffert confirmed that Muth (Good Magic), who was scratched Wednesday after spiking a temperature, would remain a bit longer at Pimlico before shipping home.

“He was supposed to leave Tuesday, but I am going to keep him here until Saturday, so I can make sure he's completely recovered,” said Baffert.

During the course of the interview, Seize the Grey was pulled out of his stall so Spendthrift's Ned Toffey and Mark Toothaker could have a look at the Preakness winner.

Without missing a beat, Baffert quipped, “Let me see why I didn't buy this horse.”

The Wayne and Bob show had begun.

“Let's get [bloodstock agent] Donato Lanni on the one so I can find out why we didn't buy this horse,” he said to ripples of laughter.

Seize the Grey the morning after his Preakness win | Christina Bossinakis

Baffert trained the colt's ill-fated sire Arrogate, who was named Champion 3-year-old Colt following wins in the GI Travers S. and GI Breeders' Cup Classic in 2016.

Lukas has enjoyed success already with the sire, having most recently led Arrogate's initial Classic winner, Secret Oath, to victory in the 2022 GI Kentucky Oaks.

Seize the Grey was purchased by Roderick Wachman on behalf of MyRacehorse for $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

To that point, Lukas said, “I have had so much luck with Arrogate. I probably would have endorsed the purchase because I've done so well with him.”

He added, “He's really a well-conformed horse. He's a lovely horse that has a lot of balance to him.”

After plenty of playful banter among the group, the two Hall of Famers often broke off into shop talk, unable to resist the chance to catch up.

Baffert, who has been under plenty of fire since the disqualification of Medina Spirit from the 2021 Kentucky Derby, had been muted, largely avoiding speaking to the press, ever since. While not winning the Preakness Saturday, the trainer appeared in a notably lighter mood Sunday morning, enjoying the moment with a good friend while regaling the group with  the trademark wit and sharp tongue that may have appeared to have been casualties of the past two years.

However, both trainers appeared to take in the moment all morning, with Lukas summing things up with a playful jab at the media.

“All of you came by here first today, but next time, none of you will,” he said.

As one of his longtime fans, there was no mincing words.

“Wayne, some of us will always stop by your barn first.”

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