Preakness 2024: Seize the Grey goes wire to wire to win 149th running

BALTIMORE — He’ll never stop coming as long as he has a horse with any chance.

The last of 88-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ six Preakness Stakes wins, with Oxbow, came in 2013. But Lukas’ optimism blooms anew each spring. He doesn’t feel right if he’s not part of the big races.

Lukas was absent in 2023 but brought two contenders, Seize the Grey and 17th-place Kentucky Derby finisher Just Steel, to Pimlico Race Course this year in hopes of winning Preakness No. 7. Neither was among the favorites, but Lukas felt that under the right scenario, he could compete with Derby champion Mystik Dan and the rest of a solid field.

His relentlessness paid off Saturday when Seize the Grey won the 149th running of the Preakness.

“It’s like the first one; it really is,” Lukas said, making his way down the muddy track with help from a cane, his lone obvious concession to age. “It never gets old at this level.”

It was a popular victory, even among competing trainers such as Bob Baffert and Kenny McPeek, who’ve spent decades trading wins and good-natured barbs with Lukas. With his signature cowboy hat and the pony he still rides in the mornings, he’s a grand character who set the template for modern thoroughbred training.

Lukas won his first Preakness 44 years ago with Codex.

He had to overcome multiple obstacles to return to the Preakness winner’s circle: Derby champion Mystik Dan, a sloppy track, well-rested challengers in Chad Brown-trained Tuscan Gold and Baffert-trained Imagination.

Lukas’ horse surmounted them all.

Seize the Grey’s victory eliminated the possibility of a Triple Crown run for a sixth straight year. Justify in 2018 was the last horse to win both the Derby and the Preakness. Seventeen horses have won the 17 Triple Crown races since Justify completed his quest.

Weather became a character as it sometimes does on Preakness Saturdays. Who could forget American Pharoah gliding over the bog left by a violent thunderstorm in 2015? A muddy scenario was thought to favor Mystik Dan, who’d run one of the best races of his life over Arkansas slop in the Feb. 3 Southwest Stakes.

In truth, bad weather was a variable none of the Preakness trainers invited. “You don’t know until they come out of the gate,” Baffert said when asked how it might alter the $2 million race.

This wet Preakness was the last at Pimlico as we know it, at least if the state’s $400 million plan to rebuild the track proceeds on schedule. Wrecking balls are expected to swing either late this year or early next, with next year’s 150th running of the Preakness going off against the backdrop of an active demolition site. The race is scheduled to move to Laurel Park before returning to a spiffy new Pimlico in 2027.