Sports

Seize the Grey wins Preakness, denies Mystik Dan

Seize the Grey went wire to wire to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, giving 88-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas a seventh victory in the race and ending Mystik Dan’s Triple Crown bid.

The gray colt, ridden by Jamie Torres, took advantage of the muddy track just like Lukas hoped he would, pulling off the upset at Pimlico Race Course in a second consecutive impressive start two weeks after romping in a race on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. Seize the Grey went off at 9-1, one of the longest shots on the board, moved out to the lead and never looked back.

“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 quick.'”

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.”

Mystic Dan’s second-place finish extends a six-year drought in which the Kentucky Derby winner has failed to repeat at the Preakness Stakes. It is the longest such drought since 1989 to 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

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. He had two this time, with Just Steel finishing fifth, but Seize the Grey — owned by thousands of investors involved in the MyRacehorse group — delivered the victory.

“Can you imagine how many people are going to relish in this and enjoy it?” Lukas said. “I mean I don’t even know how many people own this horse. I don’t know. It’s a lot of people, I know that.”

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.

Bob 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.”

Lukas has now won the Preakness seven times, one short of the record held by two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer and close friend Bob Baffert, whose Imagination finished seventh. Baffert also was supposed to have two horses in the field and arguably the best, but morning line favorite Muth was scratched earlier in the week because of a fever.

Muth’s absence made Mystik Dan the 2-1 favorite, but he and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. could not replicate their perfect Derby trip — when they won the race’s first three-way photo finish since 1947. Instead, Torres rode Seize the Grey to a win in his first Triple Crown race of any kind.

“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 during 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 1¼ miles because of the shape of the course. Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Sierra Leone, is expected to headline that field, though Lukas said he’d wait to see about Seize the Grey also running.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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