Seize the Grey Outruns Mystik Dan in Preakness Stakes

Once upon a time in the 1980s and early 1990s, D. Wayne Lukas was the king of Thoroughbred racing. As years passed, the crown was handed to Bob Baffert, who gave the sport a pair of Triple Crown champions. These days, there are statesmen like Kenny McPeek, who has captured all three legs of the Triple Crown. There are also young princes such as Chad Brown and Brad Cox, each of whom may one day wear the crown. And so, on a rainy May 18 afternoon at Pimlico Race Course, those members of racing's royalty all gathered for the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) when the likes of Baffert, McPeek, Cox, and Brown figure to dominate the proceedings. Instead, it was a day that belonged to the sport's once and perhaps future king. At the tender age of 88, Lukas staged yet another classic upset as he sent out MyRacehorse's Seize the Grey to post a front-running 2 1/4-length victory over Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan, meaning for the sixth straight year, there will not be the possibility of a sweep in the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. "People always ask which Preakness win is the best and the last one is the sweetest," Lukas said after his seventh victory in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown and 15th Triple Crown win. "What was significant to me, and maybe because I am getting older, is that as I walked across the racetrack (after the race), every one of those (trainers) in the race gave me a handshake. That meant more to me than any single thing. Baffert, Kenny McPeek, right on down the line." Watch: Lukas Discusses Preakness Win, Training for MyRacehorse Baffert has been a longtime admirer of Lukas. After the octogenarian came one win closer to matching his record eight Preakness wins, Baffert spoke in revered terms about the living legend and Hall of Famer known as "The Coach." "He's creeping up on me. I may have to stay in for another 10 years," said Baffert, who sent out 4-1 shot Imagination to a seventh-place finish in the field of eight. "Wayne has always been a great horseman. I've always respected him. He's always been the bar. It was (Charlie) Whittingham and then Wayne. It's a good feeling. If you are going to get beat, you want to see Wayne win. He still has it. He's still a great trainer." While Lukas may be the oldest trainer to ever win a Triple Crown race, he won the $2 million Preakness with the help of one of racing's newest innovations. MyRacehorse sells microshares of its horses like Seize the Grey, accounting for the son of the late Arrogate having 2,570 different owners who bought up 5,000 shares of the colt at $127 a share. Michael Behrens, founder of MyRacehorse, estimated about 300 of those owners were on hand at Pimlico Saturday. "This means everything for our business. What we tried to do when we started this four years ago was to allow anyone to experience the thrill of winning the biggest races, and we just had 2,570 people experience one of the great thrills," Behrens said after MyRacehorse's second classic win and first since Authentic captured the 2020 Kentucky Derby. "You saw the energy out there. There is so much excitement and tears." What Lukas saw was a wave of happy people rushing toward the winner's circle after the race. "They turned them loose," he said. "I've been in cattle drives more organized than that. It was great and chaotic." Seize the Grey was the lone horse MyRacehorse had with Lukas until it recently sent him a 2-year-old. Bred by the late Audrey Otto as JAMM Ltd., Seize the Grey, out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Shopping, was bought for $300,000 from the Mill Ridge Sales consignment at The Saratoga Sale, Fasig Tipton's select yearling sale in Upstate New York. Lukas, who last won the Preakness in 2013 with Oxbow, also sent out Just Steel to finish fifth. Lukas said he wanted to give his winner some time before deciding on whether to send Seize the Grey to Saratoga Race Course for the June 8 initial Belmont Stakes (G1) at the Spa. But he certainly did not dismiss the idea. "If they are going to beat him, they may want to extend it back to a mile and a half," Lukas said in reference to the Belmont being a mile-and-a-quarter race at Saratoga. "If we go (to the Belmont), he'll be tough. He can get a mile and a quarter. He would have gotten a mile and a quarter today." While Seize the Grey has never been a front-runner, chasing a :44.59 half-mile while winning the May 4 Pat Day Mile Stakes (G2) gave jockey Jaime Torres enough speed to grab the lead with the Arrogate colt and open a clear lead when Frankie Dettori on Imagination elected to follow the leader rather than engage him. He was hard held and well off the rail early, seemingly in an attempt to get him to relax. "He's such an amazing horse. He relaxed for me and he felt the other horses coming close (in the stretch) and then gave me everything to the wire," said Torres, who has been riding for just two years and captured his first Triple Crown and grade 1 win. Seize the Grey led by two lengths over Imagination after a half-mile in 47.33 over the muddy track, and soon after Lukas felt something magical could happen. "When he hit the half-mile pole, I turned to my wife Laurie and said, 'Watch out, we're home free.' With that Pat Day Mile under his belt I didn't think he'd back up one iota," Lukas said. Once again, The Coach was right. Seize the Grey extended to a 2 1/2-length lead after six furlongs in 1:11.95, and when the field turned into the stretch, Imagination weakened, and Mystik Dan and Catching Freedom took up a chase that proved futile. Seize the Grey led by two lengths at the eighth pole and finished the mile and three-sixteenths in 1:56.82 as the 9-1 ($21.60) sixth choice in the field of eight 3-year-olds. For McPeek, there was disappointment after the runner-up finish ended the Triple Crown hopes for the Goldencents colt owned by Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby III, 4 G Racing, and Valley View Farm. Yet he was also proud of the effort turned in by Mystik Dan, both Saturday as the 2-1 favorite and two weeks earlier in the Kentucky Derby. "I'm proud of him. It wasn't his day. I thought we could run down Seize the Grey with the fractions, but he didn't back up," said McPeek. "I think (jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.) was right; if we chased him, it would have taken (Mystik Dan) out of his game. That's horse racing. The rider did a great job on Wayne's horse, and Wayne is a legend for a reason." McPeek said Mystik Dan would head to Saratoga and labeled the Belmont Stakes as "a definite maybe." Albaugh Family Stables' Catching Freedom was a head behind Mystik Dan in third. A Constitution colt, he rallied from fifth for Cox. "I thought he ran well. He leveled off a bit late, but it was an overall good effort," said Cox, who plans to ship Catching Freedom back to Kentucky and give the 7-2 second choice some time off. Brown said Tuscan Gold, the 4-1 fourth choice, failed to handle the wet conditions. He wound up fourth, 8 1/4 lengths behind the winner. "He was under the whip and backing up the whole way," Brown said. The victory was the fourth for Seize the Grey in 10 starts and lifted his earnings to $1,819,938. Total wagering for the day was $98.8 million, with $50.5 million bet on the Preakness, a 5.6% increase from last year.