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Seize the Grey wins the Preakness, ending Mystik Dan's Triple Crown bid

BALTIMORE — D. Wayne Lukas worked his way to Seize the Grey after his horse won the Preakness Stakes and kept getting interrupted by well-wishes offering congratulations.

"I think they're trying to get rid of me," Lukas said. "They probably want me to retire. I don't think that'll happen."

Not when the 88-year-old Hall of Fame trainer keeps winning big-time races.

Seize the Grey ended Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan's Triple Crown bid Saturday by going wire to wire to win the Preakness, giving Lukas his seventh victory in the race, one short of the record held by good friend Bob Baffert.

"I'm only one behind him — I warned him already," Lukas said. "It never gets old at this level, and I love the competition. I love to get in here with the rest of them."

The strapping grey colt took advantage of the muddy track just as Lukas hoped he would, pulling off the upset in a second consecutive impressive start two weeks after romping in a race on the Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. Going off at 9-1 as one of the longest shots on the board, Seize the Grey moved to the lead immediately out of the starting gate and never looked back, finishing in 1:56.82.

"I thought his action down the backside was beautiful, and I knew that he was handling the track," Lukas said. "I said, 'Watch out, he's not going to quit.'"

Mystik Dan finished second in the field of eight horses running in the $2 million, 1 3/16-mile race. After falling short of going back to back following his win by a nose in the Kentucky Derby, it would be a surprise if he runs in the Belmont Stakes on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

"My colt's a fantastic colt and proud of him," trainer Kenny McPeek said. "It just wasn't his day, but he'll live to race again."

Seize the Grey was a surprise Preakness winner facing tougher competition than in the Pat Day Mile on May 4. Though given the Lukas connection, it should never be a surprise when one of his horses is covered in a blanket of Black-Eyed Susan flowers.

No one in the race's 149-year history has saddled more horses in the Preakness than Lukas, with 48 since debuting in 1980 and winning that one with Codex. He had two in this time, with Just Steel finishing fifth, but Seize the Grey — owned by 2,570 people involved in the MyRacehorse group — delivered the victory.

"I just couldn't be happier for every single one of them," MyRacehorse founder and CEO Michael Behrens said. "We had some big expectations, but this exceeds all those expectations."

Seize the Grey paid $21.60 to win, $8.40 to place and $4.40 to show. Mystik Dan paid $4.20 and $2.80, while third-place Catching Freedom paid $3.20 to show.

Baffert, who was looking for a record-extending ninth Preakness victory, was supposed to have two horses in the field, but morning line favorite Muth was scratched earlier in the week because of a fever. Baffert's Imagination finished seventh.

"He is still learning," Baffert said. "I think we are learning his style. I saw a lot today that I can change going forward. I don't think he wants to run like that. We didn't really have a plan. We thought it would be Wayne or us."

Muth's absence made Mystik Dan the 2-1 favorite, but he and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. could not replicate their perfect Derby trip to win that race's first three-way photo finish since 1947. Instead, Jaime Torres rode Seize the Grey to a win in his first Triple Crown race of any kind, just two years after starting to ride.

"I have no words," said Torres, a native of Puerto Rico who did not begin racing until seeing it on TV in late 2019. "I'm very excited, very excited and very thankful to all the people that have been behind me, helping me."

This was the last Preakness held at Pimlico Race Course as it stands before demolition begins on the historic but deteriorating track, which will still hold the 150th running of it next year mid-construction.

That process is already well underway at Belmont Park, which is why the final leg of the Triple Crown is happening at Saratoga for the first time and is being shortened to 1 1/4 miles because of the shape of the course. Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Sierra Leone, a half step from winning, is expected to headline that field, though Lukas said he'd wait to see about Seize the Grey also running.

Copyright 2024 NPR

The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]