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Jon White: Seize the Grey's Preakness Win Hits Historical Markers

by Jon White

May 23, 2024

When discussing my Preakness picks for Xpressbet.com last week, I admitted that I might be making a mistake by pooh-poohing the chances of Just Steel and Seize the Grey, a pair of colts trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

“I might regret not taking Just Steel and Seize the Grey more seriously this Saturday, especially Just Steel,” I wrote. “Disregarding any horse sent out by their Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, can be a risky proposition.”

And what happened? Seize the Grey, sent away at odds of 9-1, seized the lead at once, led past every pole and won the 1 3/16-mile Preakness by 2 1/4 lengths.

I watched the Preakness with my good friend, racing enthusiast Ryan Stillman. About midway down the backstretch, when Seize the Grey was just cruising along on an uncontested lead of about two lengths on the muddy Pimlico oval, I said: “They’d better watch out for this Lukas horse on the lead.”

Later, I found out that Lukas said of Seize the Grey at the post-race media conference: “When he hit the half-mile pole, I turned to my wife, Laura, and I said, ‘Watch out, we’re home free.’ After having that Pat Day Mile under his belt, I didn’t think he’d back up one iota.”

Mystik Dan, the 2-1 favorite, loomed a threat in the stretch. For a moment, it looked like he might snatch the second jewel of the Triple Crown after having won the Kentucky Derby by a nose a fortnight earlier.

But Mystic Dan had to settle for second among the eight Preakness contestants when unable to close the gap on Seize the Grey in the final sixteenth. Catching Freedom finished third, followed in order by Tuscan Gold (the “wise-guy horse,” as I called him, going off at odds of 4-1), Just Steel (another Lukas trainee who, unfortunately, was reported to have emerged from the race with a condylar fracture in his right front leg), Uncle Heavy, Imagination (my top pick for Xpressbet.com -- sorry about that) and Mugatu.


Collaborating to win this year’s Preakness with Seize the Grey were 88-year-old Lukas and 25-year-old jockey Jaime Torres from Puerto Rico. This was Torres’ first graded stakes victory.

How tough of an individual is Lukas? In the summer of 2000, at his advanced age, he overcame a serious bout with COVID.

“It was closest you can come to dying,” Lukas said in a story written by Rick Bozich on WDRB.com.

And now, four years after nearly dying, Lukas won his seventh Preakness.

Lukas’ seven Preakness winners are listed below:

2024 Seize the Grey
2013 Oxbow
1999 Charismatic
1995 Timber Country
1994 Tabasco Cat
1985 Tank’s Prospect
1980 Codex

As the legendary Lukas continues adding to his list of major achievements, he now is the oldest trainer to have won a Triple Crown race.

By comparison, “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons was a spry 83 when he saddled Bold Ruler to win the 1957 Preakness. Bold Ruler, as you might know, would go on to sire the great Secretariat, who in 1973 won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought.

Bold Ruler’s Preakness was Fitzsimmons’ 13th and final win in a Triple Crown race, which stood as a record for 56 years, from 1957 until 2013. And who was the trainer who finally broke Fitzsimmons’ record? It was none other than Lukas, who increased his total of wins in a Triple Crown race to 14 when Oxbow captured the Preakness.

Lukas’ 15 wins in a Triple Crown race are below:

2024 Preakness (Seize the Grey)
2013 Preakness (Oxbow)
2000 Belmont (Commendable)
1999 Preakness (Charismatic)
1999 Kentucky Derby (Charismatic)
1996 Belmont (Editor’s Note)
1996 Kentucky Derby (Grindstone)
1995 Belmont (Thunder Gulch)
1995 Preakness (Timber Country)
1995 Kentucky Derby (Thunder Gulch)
1994 Belmont (Tabasco Cat)
1994 Preakness (Tabasco Cat)
1988 Kentucky Derby (Winning Colors)
1985 Preakness (Tank’s Prospect)
1980 Preakness (Codex)

When Justify won the 2015 Belmont Stakes to complete a Triple Crown sweep, it was trainer Bob Baffert’s 15th win in a Triple Crown race, which broke Lukas’ record. Hall of Famer Baffert has since increased his record total to 17 by winning the 2020 Kentucky Derby with Authentic and 2023 Preakness with National Treasure.

The trainers with seven or more wins in a Triple Crown race are listed below:

Total (Ky. Derby, Preakness, Belmont wins) Trainer

17 (7-7-3) Bob Baffert
15 (5-6-4) D. Wayne Lukas
13 (3-4-6) “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons
11 (2-1-8) James Rowe
11 (0-7-4) R. Wyndam Walden
9 (3-2-4) Max Hirsch
9 (6-2-1) “Plain Ben” Jones
8 (2-1-5) Woody Stephens
7 (0-0-7) Sam Hildreth
7 (2-4-1) Jimmy Jones

Isn’t it interesting that Baffert and Lukas, who in Thoroughbred racing have a mind-boggling 32 wins in a Triple Crown race between them, both started off training Quarter Horses?

And speaking of Baffert, the Preakness loss by Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan means the Triple Crown drought would now have reached 46 years since Affirmed in 1978 if not for the sweeps by Baffert trainees American Pharoah and Justify.


About the only thing Lukas has not accomplished in Thoroughbred racing is winning the Triple Crown.

But in 1995, Lukas won the three Triple Crown races in the same year with two different horses, which he has said “might be more difficult than winning the three races in the same year with the same horse.”

In 1995, Lukas won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont with Thunder Gulch. In between, Lukas sent out Timber Country to win the Preakness.

While Lukas doesn’t have a Triple Crown to his credit, he once actually won six consecutive Triple Crown races as a trainer. The string began when Tabasco Cat won the 1994 Preakness, then continued with victories by Tabasco Cat in the 1994 Belmont, Thunder Gulch in the 1995 Kentucky Derby, Timber Country in the 1995 Preakness, Thunder Gulch in the 1995 Belmont and Grindstone in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.


Leave it to Lukas to do something with Seize the Grey that had not been achieved in 66 years. Yes, 66 years!

Seize the Grey went into the Preakness off a 1 1/4-length win in the Pay Day Mile around one turn on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. That race, inaugurated in 1924, had been known as the Derby Trial until the name was changed in 2015 to honor retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.

Seize the Grey became the first horse to win the Derby Trial/Pat Day Mile and the Preakness since Tim Tam in 1958.

A son of 1953 Horse of the Year Tom Fool, Tim Tam won the Derby Trial on April 29, the Kentucky Derby on a muddy track May 3, then the Preakness on May May 17.

With an eight-race winning streak going into the Belmont, Tim Tam looked like he would become Calumet’s third Triple Crown winner, joining Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation in 1948. Citation had won the Derby Trial prior to his Triple Crown sweep.

Unfortunately for Tim Tam, he cracked a sesamoid during the Belmont. While he struggled home on three good legs, Cavan capitalized and won the Belmont by six lengths. Despite the injury, Tim Tam finished second.

Tim Tam never raced again after the Belmont. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

The seven horses to win the Derby Trial/Pat Day Mile and Preakness are listed below:

2023 Seize the Grey
1958 Tim Tam
1956 Fabius
1954 Hasty Road
1948 Citation
1947 Faultless
1940 Bimelech
1933 Head Play


Lukas has never been shy to run a longshot in a big race. Throughout his illustrious training career, he has subscribed to the notion that you can’t win it if you’re not in it.

Below is a list of notable Lukas upset victories:

55-1 Spain (2000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff)
32-1 Cash Run (1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies)
31-1 Charismatic (1999 Kentucky Derby)
29-1 Stellar Jayne (2004 Mother Goose)
28-1 Will Take Charge (2013 Rebel)
25-1 Codex (1980 Santa Anita Derby)
24-1 Skyring (2013 Dixie)
24-1 Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby)
19-1 Cat Thief (1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
18-1 Commendable (2000 Belmont)
18-1 Harlan (1994 Vosburgh)
15-1 Oxbow (2013 Preakness)
15-1 Hightail (2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint)
12-1 Cape Town (1998 Florida Derby)
12-1 Honour and Glory (1996 Met Mile)
11-1 Scorpion (2001 Jim Dandy)
9-1 Seize the Grey (2024 Preakness)
9-1 Is It True (1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile)


Seize the Grey completed his 1 3/16-mile journey on the muddy track (described by Lukas as being sticky like peanut butter) in 1:56.82.

For his Preakness performance, Seize the Grey was credited with a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. It’s his highest Beyer to date. His previous top figure was the 88 that he received for his Pat Day Mile triumph.

Seize the Grey’s 100 Beyer in the Preakness matches the figure recorded by Mystik Dan in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Below are Beyer Speed Figures for Preakness winners going back to 1991 (the first year they were listed in the American Racing Manual):

2024 Seize the Grey (100)
2023 National Treasure (98)
2022 Early Voting (105)
2021 Rombauer (102)
2020 Swiss Skydiver (105)
2019 War of Will (99)
2018 Justify (97)
2017 Cloud Computing (102)
2016 Exaggerator (101)
2015 American Pharoah (102)
2014 California Chrome (105)
2013 Oxbow (106)
2012 I’ll Have Another (109)
2011 Shackleford (104)
2010 Lookin At Lucky (102)
2009 Rachel Alexandra (108)
2008 Big Brown (100)
2007 Curlin (111)
2006 Bernardini (113)
2005 Afleet Alex (112)
2004 Smarty Jones (118)
2003 Funny Cide (114)
2002 War Emblem (109)
2001 Point Given (111)
2000 Red Bullet (109)
1999 Charismatic (107)
1998 Real Quiet (111)
1997 Silver Charm (118)
1996 Louis Quatorze (112)
1995 Timber Country (106)
1994 Tabasco Cat (112)
1993 Prairie Bayou (98)
1992 Pine Bluff (104)
1991 Hansel (117)


Seize the Grey is owned by MyRacehorse, which as BloodHorse’s Bob Ehalt noted, “sells microshares of its horses to potentially thousands of owners, which, in the case of the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Seize the Grey, amounted to 2,570 different owners who paid $127 a share.”

The 2,570 owners are from 42 states. There were roughly 300 Seize the Grey owners in attendance at Pimlico for the Preakness. When the winner’s circle ceremony was being held, so many Seize the Grey owners were on hand and were so boisterous that Lukas likened it to being at a football pep rally.

“We just had 2,570 people experience one of the greatest thrills in racing,” said Michael Behrens, founder and CEO of MyRacehorse, at the post-race media conference. “You saw the energy out there. There was so much excitement, there were tears.”

Now in its fifth year, MyRacehorse has attracted nearly 65,000 owners who own fractionalized shares of horses.

I actually know one of Seize the Grey’s 2,570 owners. It’s Mark Shrager, a racing historian who wrote the recent book “The First Kentucky Derby.”

I highly recommend Shrager’s book to anyone who, like yours truly, is interested in horse racing’s history.

In “The First Kentucky Derby,” Shrager writes about “one shady owner,” H. Price McGrath, known for being a big-time gambler, and Aristides, “the little red horse that wasn’t supposed to win” the first Derby.

Aristides did win that first Kentucky Derby despite having been put in the race as a “rabbit” for his more highly regarded and more accomplished stablemate, Chesapeake, who finished eighth.

There also is an informative chapter titled “The Rise and Fall of the Black Jockey in America,” which details how African-American jockeys went from playing a vital role in American racing to their virtual disappearance.


There was much talk after this year’s Run for the Roses that there now needs to be more than two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Many believe it’s just not enough time between races for contemporary racehorses. These days, horses typically have more -- often much more -- than two weeks between starts.

But then how is it that the first three finishers in this year’s Preakness all were coming back in just two weeks?

Both Lukas and Baffert have had much success running a horse back in two weeks. This is due in some part from their Quarter Horse days. Baffert has talked about how his experience in Quarter Horse racing has been a big help in this regard.

For futurities and derbies during Baffert’s time as a Quarter Horse conditioner, qualifying trials generally would be held just one week earlier. Baffert learned to deal with what he called “the quick turnaround in the Quarter Horse world” by having a horse “run well enough” to qualify for the futurity or derby, but “not too well.” The goal was for the horse to come back a week after the trial and still be able to take a serious run at winning the futurity or derby.

Think of what Lukas once did with a 2-year-old filly in 1982 from the fist crop of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Lukas ran Landaluce back in Hollywood Park’s Hollywood Lassie Stakes only one week after she began her racing career by winning a six-furlong maiden race at that track by seven lengths in a rapid 1:08 1/5.

How did Landaluce do in the Lassie one week after her debut? She ran even faster. In one of the greatest performances in the history of racing in California, Landaluce won the six-furlong Lassie by 21 lengths in 1:08 flat.

You can read about the star-crossed Landaluce and learn much about Lukas in Mary Perdue’s book “Landaluce: The Story of Seattle Slew’s First Champion.” I had the honor of writing the foreword.

When Lukas won the 1980 Preakness with Codex, it was the trainer’s first starter in a Triple Crown race. As but one example of the interesting tidbits in Perdue’s book, she touched on Codex’s unusual plane trip to the East Coast for the Preakness.

“After previous travel plans fell through, Codex flew east for his first race outside California in a cargo plane filled with two thousand crates of strawberries,” Perdue wrote.

Of course, that 1980 Preakness became one of the most controversial races in history. There was an incident involving Codex and the filly Genuine Risk turning into the stretch. The inquiry sign was not posted after the race. A claim of foul was lodged by Jacinto Vasquez against Codex and jockey Angel Cordero Jr.

I believe that the 1980 Preakness is similar to the 2019 and 2024 Kentucky Derbies in that was an embarrassment and inexcusable that the stewards did not post the inquiry sign in these three races when it obviously was warranted. Whether or not you think there should have been a disqualification is one thing. But all in all three races the stewards should have lit the inquiry sign.

In the 1980 Preakness, just before they straightened away in the stretch, Codex had a narrow lead while racing to the inside of Genuine Risk. Two weeks earlier Genuine Risk had won the Kentucky Derby, becoming only the second filly to do so and the first since Regret all the way back in 1915.

In Richard Sowers’ book “The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes,” he wrote this of the 1980 Preakness incident turning for home when Codex already was racing wide:

“When Angel Cordero glanced over and saw Genuine Risk coming, he guided Codex even wider toward the center of the track. Vasquez had no choice but to take Genuine Risk even wider, momentarily checking his mount, then pointing her almost at the grandstand. Depending on the source, Codex never actually touched Genuine Risk, violently slammed into her, or lightly brushed her -- the most likely scenario. Regardless, the filly lost all momentum.

“Codex reached the furlong pole a length ahead of Genuine Risk with the rest of the field nowhere in sight, then coasted home 4 3/4 lengths in front.

“Vasquez quickly filed a foul claim against Cordero, who was greeted by vociferous boos by the record crowd of 83,455 and by two agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he returned to the jockeys’ quarters. While those who bet on Genuine Risk no doubt would love to have seen Cordero arrested, the FBI agents actually were on hand to protect Cordero after the FBI had received threats that the jockey’s home was going to be bombed.

“The stewards disallowed the foul claim, and Genuine Risk’s owner, Diana Johnson Firestone, filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Racing Commission, which like the stewards, upheld Codex’s triumph.”

After Maximum Security finished first by 1 3/4 lengths in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, jockey Flavian Prat, who rode runner-up Country House, lodged an objection. Though it was not known at the time, Jon Court, the rider of Long Range Toddy, who finished 17th, also claimed foul. Maximum Security was disqualified from first and placed 17th, behind Long Range Toddy. The stewards ruled that Maximum Security committed a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. It was the first time in the history of the Kentucky Derby that a winner was disqualified for an incident during the running of the race.

In this year’s Kentucky Derby, Mystik Dan finished first by a nose. Sierra Leone came in second, a nose in front of Forever Young in third. It was the closest three-horse finish in the 150-year history of the Kentucky Derby. Even though Sierra Leone and Forever Young bumped a number of times during the stretch run, there was not an inquiry. There also was not an inquiry even though Tyler Gaffalione, the rider of Sierra Leone, looked something like the Heisman Trophy in deep stretch when he reached out with his left arm and made contact with Forever Young.

After Gaffalione appeared before stewards Barbara Borden, Butch Becraft and Tyler Picklesimer in a hearing conducted five days after the Kentucky Derby, a ruling was issued stating that “Tyler Gaffalione is hereby fined $2,500 for touching a rival with his left hand nearing the finish line while aboard Sierra Leone in the 12th race at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2024.”

I applaud horse racing broadcaster Randy Moss for what he said on NBC last Saturday regarding the lack of an inquiry in the Kentucky Derby.

“Because it didn’t involve the winner, Mystik Dan, it’s kind of gone under the radar nationally,” Moss said. “But there was $75 million bet in exactas, trifectas and superfectas involving the second- and third-place finishers, and a half-million dollars difference in purse money between the second- and third-place finishers.

“The stewards at Churchill Downs just completely blew it. There’s no other way to say it. When horses finish that close apart and the Japanese horse [Forever Young] got mugged the length of the stretch, they blew it with no inquiry, they blew it with no DQ because of the bumping, and they blew it for no DQ because of the Heisman -- a trifecta of incompetence. And Churchill Downs is extremely lucky that Sierra Leone didn’t win that race by a nose and not get taken down because that would have been one of the biggest controversies in Derby history.”

Moss added that it’s his opinion that Sierra Leone should have been disqualified from second and placed third.

Mike Tirico, holding up a piece of paper and showing it to the camera, then said to those watching on NBC: “The stewards’ report finally came out after two weeks and said that race was clear. So that’s it from the KHRC, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.”

That race was clear? What a joke. Or as a good friend of mine who is a trainer not based in California accurately put it in a text to me after this year’s Kentucky Derby, the officiating of the Kentucky Derby by the stewards and the racing commission this year “was a farce.”

I thought my friend also put it well when he wrote that not only did the stewards completely miss the target regarding the bumping between Sierra Leone and Forever Young, the stiff arm by Tyler Gaffalione being completely dismissed “was an absolute injustice to the public. That,” my friend added, “should have constituted an automatic disqualification on its own.”


Seize the Grey is by the late Arrogate, who died in 2020.

“With every passing year, the depth of the loss of champion Arrogate, who died at age 7 after just three seasons at stud, becomes more pronounced,” Daily Racing Form’s Nicole Russo wrote.

Arrogate was a tremendously talented racehorse. I characterized his record-breaking 13 1/2-length Travers victory while making his stakes debut in 2016 as being Secretariat-like.

Later in 2016, Arrogate won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a late surge by a half-length when running down no less a foe than an older California Chrome, who was voted Horse of the Year in 2014 and again in 2016.

Arrogate was voted a 2016 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.

In what would be the final win of Arrogate’s career, he overcame a horrendous start to win the 2017 Dubai World Cup by 2 1/4 lengths. Finishing second was Gun Runner, who would go on to be voted 2017 Horse of the Year.

Both Arrogate and California Chrome were elected to the national Hall of Fame last year. Gun Runner will be inducted in August.

Arrogate was retired from racing following his 2017 campaign.

“Despite limited opportunity, Arrogate has remarkably become one of the most successful classic sires of the modern era,” Russo wrote. “His first crop was led by Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath; his second by Belmont and Travers winner and champion Arcangelo. His third crop now includes Seize the Grey.”

“I’ve had such good luck with Arrogate,” said Lukas, who trained Secret Oath and now Seize the Grey.

Arrogate ranks high on my list of the Top 100 Thoroughbreds of the 21st century so far to have won in North America. My Top 25 is listed below:

1. Flightline
2. American Pharoah*
3. Zenyatta (f)
4. Arrogate
5. Ghostzapper
6. Curlin
7. Rachel Alexandra (f)
8. Justify*
9. Shared Belief
10. California Chrome
11. Tiznow
12. Gun Runner
13. Invasor
14. Wise Dan
15. Point Given
16. Goldikova (f)
17. Beholder (f)
18. Enable (f)
19. Barbaro
20. Smarty Jones
21. Bernardini
22. Azeri (f)
23. Lava Man
24. Bricks and Mortar
25. Rags to Riches (f)

*Triple Crown winner

(f) Female


Below is the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 297 Senor Buscador (18)
2. 260 Idiomatic (9)
3. 217 National Treasure (4)
4. 167 Master of The Seas (1)
5. 163 First Mission
6. 116 White Abarrio
7. 99 Adare Manor
8. 59 Skippylongstocking
9. 54 Saudi Crown
10. 52 Skelly

Though he did not make the Top 10, The Chosen Vron received one first-place vote.


Following his victory in the Preakness, Seize the Grey debuts on this week’s Top 10 after being ranked No. 12 last week.

Below is the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 302 Mystik Dan (20)
2. 282 Sierra Leone (5)
3. 273 Seize the Grey (6)
4. 193 Catching Freedom
5. 185 Forever Young
6. 167 Muth (1)
7. 117 Thorpedo Anna (1)
8. 73 Fierceness
9. 49 Nysos
10. 48 Resilience