Lukas's Magnificent Preakness Seven

Seize the Grey | Maryland Jockey Club

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Baltimore, MD–The naysayers said it couldn't be done. Seize the Grey (Arrogate) wasn't fast enough, was unlikely to go that far and simply put, was just being thrown into the deep end. D. Wayne Lukas, however, blocked out the noise. The Hall of Famer has been quoted countless times over the years that he has built a career running where he didn't belong. And the 88-year-old proved once again that he not only belongs, but gave yet another master class in winning a Classic in Saturday's GI Preakness S. at Pimlico.

The latest win gave him his seventh score in the second jewel in the Triple Crown, only one behind fellow Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who registered his most recent win last year with National Treasure.

Earlier in the week, Baffert fretted that he just wasn't sure how his colt, Imagination (Into Mischief), would handle being out front on his own. Lukas on the other hand, didn't hide his intent to send the MyRacehorse runner to the front early, if the opportunity arose. But despite both of those contenders' imposing connections, neither colt was favored given the presence of Mystik Dan (Goldencents), who had enjoyed a masterful ride by Brian Hernandez Jr. two weeks ago to win the GI Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Also making the quick return, Derby fourth Catching Freedom (Constitution) was installed the 7-2 second choice behind the Mystik Dan, who was sent off at 2-1, and Just Steel (Justify). Also trained by Lukas, the B C Stables and Harry Schmueckle runner was given a 10-1 chance following a 17th-place finish after pursuing some quick early fractions two weeks ago.

With Baltimore being inundated with rain early in the week, there was a glimmer of hope that rain would hold off for most of the day Saturday. The weather Gods had quite a different idea, however. Late Friday night, the skies opened, and the onslaught continued through much of race day, breaking off from time to time only to start again. The result was a muddy quagmire that looked like it could swallow a little animal, or a loose-fitting shoe, if one wasn't careful. All week, the possibility of rain also gave the connections of Mystik Dan, winner of a muddy renewal of the GIII Southwest S. and Uncle Heavy (Social Inclusion), victorious in the muddy GIII Withers S., confidence that their colts wouldn't have a problem handling the off going.

“I don't worry about things I can't control,” trainer Kenny McPeek said earlier in the week of his Derby winning colt.

Come post time, the rain had ceased but the track was officially listed as muddy/sealed. The start got off without a hitch, except for Just Steel, who veered outward bumping with 4-1 chance Tuscan Gold (Medaglia d'Oro) as Jaime Torres and the GII Pat Day Mile winner loped to the front with Imagination up to mix things up from his high draw. With the opening quarter clicking off in :23.98, the grey continued to hug the rail as Frankie Dettori allowed his colt to drift out three to four paths wide around the turn. Meanwhile, Mystik Dan assumed a seemingly perfect spot, a few lengths behind the leader, but moving under his own steam. Carving out a half in :47 33, Seize the Grey continued to show the way as Imagination and Just Steel splashed along several paths off the rail. Approaching the quarter pole, Mystik Dan swung off the rail to mount his challenge as Imagination and Just Steel also loomed. At the top of the stretch, it seemed like it was anyone's race, but soon Imagination and Just Steel began their retreat as Mystik Dan seemed to be the one with the best chance to catch the loose-on-the-lead runner. Hernandez scrubbed and urged the Derby winner forward, however, try as they might to close the gap late, the duo couldn't catch the free-running grey, who crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths ahead of the Mystik Dan. Closing wide but running out of real-estate late, Catching Freedom produced another great stretch run but had to settle for third, beaten a head for the show spot.

“We didn't have any strategy, per se,” said Lukas following the race. “Once I felt like they were getting over the ground, I didn't think there was any chance [he'd get caught]. I knew they were going to run at us, but I thought we had a great chance to dictate the race from the 1/2-mile home.”

He continued, “I also think you can over-coach a little bit on these riders. I didn't want to do that.”

Lukas recounted a situation from a few weeks ago where Torres's ride on another barn runner hadn't gone quite as planned, and Lukas didn't hold back.

“If I told him I wanted him to lay third or fourth or midpack, as bad as I chewed his ass the first time, I think he'd have probably tried to do exactly that. But he breaks so well this time and he's on the lead cruising.

And it is as Lukas is so fond of saying, “Take what comes easy.”

The victory gave the 25-year-old Puerto Rican Torres his first Classic win, only two years removed from when he started riding races.

“I was going to do whatever Imagination was going to do,” said Torres. “I knew he was going to go to the lead. I think we looked at each other, and he said, well you go and so I took the lead.”

Following another good effort, McPeek was pragmatic about his colt's finish.

“He ran good,” he said. “Wayne's amazing. What can you say?”

“Stolen on the front. He said he was going to go. I think Brian made the right move. Obviously, speed held. That's why they call it horse racing, right?”

Meanwhile, Lukas has become somewhat of an old hat at the Preakness, having won it on six prior occasions with Codex in 1980, Tank's Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), Charismatic (1999) and Oxbow (2013).

“It doesn't get old,” said Lukas. “It's still the same. In 1980, I had the first one here I ever ran, and it still feels the same.”

Lukas's latest win also represents the second Classic score for MyRacehorse, who collected their first in with Authentic in 2020.

“Isn't that something, to make that many people happy? It's a helluva concept,” said Lukas of the 2570 shareholders in the grey. “It really is. To see that many people happy in racing is really special. I'm happy, but I love the fact I could make them happy.”

Lukas indicated he would wait 48 hours before deciding if Seize the Grey would return in the June 8 GI Belmont S. The third jewel of the Triple Crown that will be run at Saratoga.

 

Seizing the Moment

Seize the Grey's career debut didn't go quite as scripted when he finished a distant eighth at Ellis last July. Catching a sloppy track at the Spa at the end of that month, he came home 1 3/4-length winner over subsequent GII Fountain of Youth winner Dornoch. A respectable third in a muddy edition of the Skidmore S. Aug. 18, the $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling purchase rounded out his juvenile season with a fourth in Churchill's GIII Iroquois S. at a mile in September and third in a Keeneland allowance Oct. 14. Freshened for 2024, he won out of the box in an 8 1/2-furlong allowance at Oaklawn Feb. 24 before coming home third while trying the synthetic in Turfway's GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks Mar. 23. Desperate for some Derby points, Lukas took the colt back to Keeneland for the nine-furlong GI Toyota Blue Grass S. Apr. 6, but the experiment didn't quite pan out when the colt finished seventh behind Sierra Leone (Gun Runner). With the Derby off the card, Lukas ran the Kentucky bred back on the Derby undercard and was rewarded with a 1 1/4-length score over Nash in the Pat Day Mile.

“When we were cruising down the backside, I knew he was dead fit after coming off the Pat Day Mile,” added Lukas of the colt's preparation. “I love that prep.”

Affectionately known as The Coach, Lukas concluded the post-race presser in typical Lukas fashion.

“I want you to do more than you actually think you can do and I want you to be better than you think you can be,” he said, delivering his latest sermon on the mount. “I want you to really dedicate yourself. And to be the best version of you.”

 

Pedigree Notes:

Seized the Grey becomes the sixth Grade I winner for his deceased sire Arrogate. The son of Unbridled Song is also responsible for Classic winner Secret Oath, winner of the 2022 GI Kentucky Oaks, also trained by D. Wayne Lukas. The winner's dam, Smart Shopping, is also responsible for SP Shoppingforpharoah (American Pharoah), in addition to an unraced 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo. Most recently, she produced a Justify filly in 2022 followed by a filly by Life Is Good this term. This represents the family of Grade I winners Power Broker (Pulpit) and Miss Shop (Deputy Minister) as well as GSW and MGISP Trappe Shot (Tapit).

 

Saturday, Pimlico
PREAKNESS S.-GI, $2,000,000, Pimlico, 5-18, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:56.82, my.
1–SEIZE THE GREY, 126, c, 3, by Arrogate
1st Dam: Smart Shopping (SP), by Smart Strike
2nd Dam: Shop Again, by Wild Again
3rd Dam: Shopping, by Private Account
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($300,000 Ylg '22 FTSAUG). O-MyRacehorse; B-Jamm, Ltd. (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas; J-Jaime A. Torres. $1,200,000. Lifetime Record: 10-4-0-3, $1,819,938. Werk Nick Rating: C+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Mystik Dan, 126, c, 3, Goldencents–Ma'am, by Colonel John. O-Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, LLC, Daniel Hamby III and Valley View Farm LLC; B-Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby & 4G Racing LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $400,000.
3–Catching Freedom, 126, c, 3, Constitution–Catch My Drift, by Pioneerof the Nile. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($575,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $220,000.
Margins: 2 1/4, HD, 6. Odds: 9.80, 2.40, 3.70.
Also Ran: Tuscan Gold, Just Steel, Uncle Heavy, Imagination, Mugatu. Scratched: Muth.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

Sales history: $300,000 Ylg '22 FTSAUG. O-MyRacehorse; B-Jamm, LTD. (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas.

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