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Life's a Movie for Torres After Preakness Win

"I don't know how to explain it. It's like a movie, but in real life," Torres said.

Jaime Torres celebrates winning the Preakness Stakes aboard Seize the Grey

Jaime Torres celebrates winning the Preakness Stakes aboard Seize the Grey

Skip Dickstein

It has been a meteoric rise to stardom for 25-year-old jockey Jaime Torres. Just four and a half years after deciding he wanted to become a jockey, the native of Puerto Rico reached the pinnacle of his sport as he guided Seize the Grey to a gate-to-wire victory in the May 18 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

"I don't know how to explain it. It's like a movie, but in real life," Torres said.

Torres only started riding horses after visiting the races at Camarero Race Track in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico in 2019. He instantly fell in love and discovered he had a new passion.

Torres decided he needed to pursue his passion and drop out of college. He enrolled at the Escuela Vocacional Hípica at Camarero to learn how to ride.

"When I quit (college), I really thought, 'If I'm going to quit, I've got to make it," Torres said.

Since that moment, Torres has shown an undeterrable devotion to his craft.

"I haven't rested since then," Torres said. "I have been working very hard. Not thinking it was going to happen, but working for it."

Upon moving to the continental United States, Torres began exercise riding in Florida for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. By August of 2022, he rode in his first race and had his first winner just over a month later.

Jockey Jaime Torres gets his first win aboard Takestwotowiggle in Race 2 at Gulfstream Park, September 17, 2022
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson
Jaime Torres gets drenched in water to celebrate his first career win aboard Takestwotowiggle at Gulfstream Park in September of 2022

"I am very blessed, I had a lot of people teaching me," Torres said. "My advice to young guys starting (out) is to focus and listen, that's the best thing to do. There are a lot of people that want to help, so you just got to listen and try hard."

Someone who has helped coach Torres is the "Coach" himself, Seize the Grey's Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

"He rode a few horses for me at Churchill (Downs) and rode a few just general horses, nothing real special," Lukas said. "I thought he had a lot of talent and I loved working with him, but I really feel good taking him to this level."

Lukas received calls from about six jockeys' agents inquiring about riding Seize the Grey in the Preakness after Torres rode him to victory May 4 in the Pat Day Mile Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

"They said, 'You're going to change riders for the big one, aren't you?'" Lukas said. "I said, 'Not a chance, he's staying right there.'"

Lukas recalled just a few weeks before the Preakness, Torres rode one of his horses in a way that Lukas was not pleased. He followed Torres all the way back to the jock's room and “chewed him out.”

"I know when he turned for home (in the Preakness), that was echoing in his ears, that he'd better get down and scrubbing because I really think it hit home,” Lukas said.

Torres has appreciated that a trainer like Lukas has given him the opportunity to learn and flourish.

"It means a lot, it means everything," Torres said of Lukas' support.

Seize the Grey with Jaime A. Torres wins the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico in Baltimore, MD, on May 18, 2024.
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Jaime Torres and D. Wayne Lukas in the Preakness winners' circle at Pimlico Race Course

Also appreciative were his parents, who surprised Torres by attending the Preakness. They expressed their gratitude to the connections for giving their son a chance at the post-race press conference.

"Thank you very much for having the trust in a jockey who has just two years (of) riding (experience)," said Torres' father, who is also named Jaime, in translated remarks. "I just want to say thank you very much, (MyRacehorse founder) Michael (Behrens), to Coach Wayne Lukas for trusting him, we're blessed for this opportunity."

All the coaching worked perfectly in the Preakness as Torres broke sharply and found himself with the opportunity to steal the race on the lead.

"That was plan A, to go to the lead," Torres said. "I was wondering what (Imagination) was going to do, I wasn't going to go crazy fast in the first part. When I saw that (Imagination's jockey Frankie Dettori) took a hold, I just went."

Torres said that Seize the Grey felt comfortable during the whole 1 3/16-mile distance. Despite feeling the presence of another horse on his outside, which Torres would later find out was Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan, he knew he had won the race at the quarter pole. According to Torres, when Seize the Grey switched leads and took off entering the stretch it was a moment that dreams are made of.

The Preakness marked the 147th career win for Torres in 1,259 starts. Seize the Grey had given Torres his first graded stakes victory two weeks prior and has now provided him with his first grade 1 in one of the American classics.

"I have to give all the credit to the horse," Torres said. "He's the one that deserves all the attention."

Torres has built a strong bond with Seize the Grey, evident by the love he gave the horse in the winners' circle celebration. The Preakness was the fifth race he rode the colt, and the third time the pair had won together.

Seize the Grey with Jaime A. Torres wins the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico in Baltimore, MD, on May 18, 2024.
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Jaime Torres kisses the replica Woodlawn Vase after winning the Preakness Stakes

Winning with Seize the Grey has been extra special for Torres because of the colt's owners, MyRacehorse. The first Kentucky Derby he watched after developing his dream to become a jockey was the 2020 edition in which Authentic  won carrying MyRacehorse's black and white silks. Torres was in awe when he saw the silks in his locker the day he rode Seize the Grey for the first time July 29 at Saratoga Race Course, a maiden race in which he won wire-to-wire by 1 3/4 lengths.

"I was like, 'Wow, I'm going to ride for MyRacehorse,' Torres recalled. "I won that race with Seize the Grey, that's why I am very emotional with them."

Every time Torres looks back at the career-changing moment in which he won in his Triple Crown debut, he will see himself wearing those silks that mean so much to him and over 2,000 shareholders that own a piece of the son of the late Arrogate.

Although he just had a moment that is one of the highlights of his life, Torres is already looking ahead at what winning the Preakness will do for his blossoming career.

"Hopefully people believe more in me and give me more chances," Torres said. "I think I can do better."