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48 Marylanders among the more than 2,500 who own a piece of Preakness winner Seize the Grey

When Liz Ruffini, of Towson, received a MyRacehorse gift card from her father for her birthday a couple of years back, she was simply excited that the platform would allow her to own a share of a horse. In 2019, she and her dad, Steve, had started to regularly attend races at Laurel Park and the gift got her one step closer to racing.

Purchasing a horse is typically a pricey endeavor, but through MyRacehorse, individuals can buy tiny, more affordable stakes. Ruffini, who owns portions of 14 horses, had just wanted to be able to say she possessed some racehorse shares. She got more than she bargained for.

On Saturday, Seize the Grey won the 149th Preakness Stakes — holding off second-place finisher Mystik Dan, who won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago — and making thousands of people champions of a Triple Crown race.

“Now I can say I own shares on a Preakness winner!” Ruffini wrote in a text message.

Of the more than 2,570 individuals who own at least a portion of Seize the Grey, 48 live in Maryland.

Another one of the Maryland owners was Debbie Nakayama, a Harford County Public Library employee who spent roughly $150 on shares of Seize the Grey last year.

“I am over the moon,” said Nakayama, who was already feeling pretty confident about the horse’s chances when she saw the forecast calling for rain on race day. “I’m not surprised. He likes the mud.”

She chose to invest in Seize the Grey when she saw him in Saratoga Springs, New York, on a trip to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame — in part because she was a fan of his sire, Arrogate.

Nakayama has owned horses before, but none who have achieved anything on the level of what Seize the Grey did Saturday. She first became interested in horse racing in the 1970s when her brother, David, took her to her first race. He died in 2010 of esophageal cancer, but she said he’d be proud of where her keen eye for winning colts led her.

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“I’m sure he’s looking down thinking, ‘Wow. I taught her well,'” Nakayama said.

She couldn’t be at the track Saturday due to her bad back, but enjoyed watching the race on TV from her home in Bel Air.

“It’s so cool that people, average everyday people, are in on a horse that won a Triple Crown race,” she said, adding it’s perhaps more exciting for them than for billionaires who buy horses in full. “It’s just been an awesome ride; it really has.”

Jonathan Poland, another owner of Seize the Grey, watched the race at Pimlico with his son. He described the feeling of winning as “almost overwhelming, when you think of the history of this race.”

“If you only own one or two hairs on the horse,” he said, “it’s better than not owning a horse at all.”

A portion of Authentic, the 2020 Kentucky Derby winner, was owned by MyRacehorse, with thousands of micro-owners purchasing stakes. Michael Behrens, the founder of MyRacehors, said in a news conference Saturday that his company’s goal is to “allow anybody the biggest thrill of winning the biggest races.”

“We just had 2,570 people experience one of the greatest thrills in racing,” he said. “You saw the energy out there. There was so much excitement, there were tears. My voice is almost gone. I think half the 2,500 peoples’ voice is gone.”