Michael Behrens Joins TDN Writers' Room Podcast

Seize the Grey | Maryland Jockey Club

As the founder and CEO of MyRacehorse.com, Michael Behrens dreamt about days like this, winning a race at the highest level. So when Seize the Grey (Arrogate) crossed the wire first in the GI Preakness S., Behrens felt like he was living a dream. But so did the 2,570 individuals who invested in Seize the Grey, buying micro shares in the 3-year-old colt. And no doubt, so did the 88-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas, who keeps making the statement that age truly is nothing more than a number.

There were a lot of storylines at this year's Preakness and many involved MyRacehorse.com. To learn more, the TDN Writers' Room Podcast presented by Keeneland called upon Behrens to help us tell what was an incredible story. Behrens was this week's Green Group Guest of the week.

 

 

 

Many top owners had given up on Lukas over the years, no doubt feeling that he was too old to do the job right. So why did Behrens give him a shot with a top horse when so few others were willing to do so?

“I grew up in Southern California, in Glendora, California, and Mr. Lukas was on the top of his game back then and represented everything that was good about racing,” he said. “It seemed like all the big races that I went to were won by Lukas. As I was starting MyRacehorse, I saw him getting some nice horses up at Saratoga and Oaklawn, and I saw how well he was doing with the couple that he was getting chances with. I was getting impressed. Obviously, I was a huge fan and thought of him as a living legend of our game. Then seeing him kind of re-emerge with a couple of horses, I thought he was really starting to do well again. When we bought this horse at the Fasig-Tipton sale, I turned to the team and I said, 'this is where I want to go, with Wayne Lukas.' I asked them if they thought this was the right type of horse for his program. We know that he's got a certain type of horse that fits that program. They gave me a big thumbs up and that's how it all started.”

Behrens knew his micro shares concept wasn't for everyone, in particular the mega-wealthy owners who were dominating the yearling and 2-year-old sales and the sport as a whole. But he has proven that if you can get enough “normal” people to buy into an idea you can compete against anyone.

“It's been said that we are the face of the people,” he said.  “I'll take that all day long. When I started this and when I looked at my Racing Form and when I went to the races I saw who owned the horses. These were people that ran countries, that owned big companies and they owned big hedge funds. I couldn't see a reason why we couldn't tap into  the millions of people that love horse racing. What was audience for the Derby broadcast? 16.7 million people? There's still a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, a lot of passion around horse racing. I thought, let's curate it. Let's go ahead and compete.”

After winning the GII Pat Day Mile S. on the Kentucky Derby undercard, Seize the Grey was wheeled back in two weeks for the Preakness. The move went against what has become conventional wisdom in the sport, that horses need several weeks off in between races.

“That definitely wasn't my idea,” Behrens said. “I'm with Mr. Lukas for a reason, and I have enjoyed this journey tremendously. He has shared all his insight and all of his experience and all that has propelled him to all the success that he's had. I've had a little bit of a taste of that along this journey. He's completely generous with his thinking and his time and his strategy and what goes into his thinking. It wasn't like this was a binary, decisive plan. At the end of the day he lets the horse tell him what to do. He reacts to what he sees from the competition and from the horse itself. So he can be aggressive, but I've always been perfectly comfortable with that.”

Lukas confirmed Tuesday that Seize the Grey will return in the GI Belmont S., which will be contested at Saratoga June 8.

In our breeding spotlight section we took a look at the Coolmore stallion Corniche and the WinStar stallion Audible.

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders' Association, Coolmore, https://pabred.com/https://www.kentuckybred.org/https://www.nyrabets.com/ 1/ST Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds, WinStar, the Penn Mile at Penn National and XBTV.com, the team of Randy Moss, Bill Finley and Zoe Cadman gave their thoughts on the Preakness and the feel-good story of Lukas winning the race at his age. Who will win the GI Belmont S. at Saratoga and who will go on to prove to be the best of this class? Those were other topics of discussion as was the provisional suspension handed down by HISA/HIWU to trainer George Weaver for a metformin positive. Finley suggested that HIWU should take metformin off of its list of banned substances and make it a “controlled substance.” Penalties for horses testing positive for controlled substances are far less severe than the ones for banned substances.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

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