After decades in thoroughbred racing, “The Coach” can still call a good game. At 88 years old, trainer D. Wayne Lukas added another Triple Crown race to his Hall of Fame career, guiding Seize the Grey to the winner’s circle in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

It’s Lukas’ 15th win in American racing’s premier series and seventh at Pimlico Race Course, the most recent prior to Saturday being Oxbow in 2013. His first came at Old Hilltop 44 years ago with Codex.

“It doesn’t get old. It’s still the same,” Lukas said after the race. “In 1980 I had the first one here I ever ran, and it still feels the same.”

This Preakness win ties him with R. Wyndham Walden, one of the top trainers in the 19th century who notched seven wins in the race from 1875 to 1888, for second all time. Walden’s long-standing record was surpassed last year by Bob Baffert, who won with National Treasure.

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Entering Saturday, Lukas had amassed 4,929 career wins for more than $295 million in earnings, ninth and fifth all time, respectively.

While the game in which Lukas for years has been a towering figure is often ruled by bluebloods with deep ties to the sport and deeper pockets, Seize the Grey’s victory is a win for the everyman. The horse is owned by microshare company MyRacehorse, allowing about 2,570 people to buy a 0.02% share in the colt for $127. Forty-eight are from Maryland.

That makes for a crowded winner’s circle.

“They really turned them loose. I’ve been in some cattle drives that were more organized than that,” Lukas joked. “It was really chaotic.”

Legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas watches the trophy presentation with Belinda Stronach. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Seize the Grey stretched out to win at a distance of more than a mile for the first time since a $100,000 allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park in February. Although he was not in the Kentucky Derby, the colt ran in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on Derby day at Churchill Downs, winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

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At Pimlico, the gray colt, a son of Arrogate out of Smart Shopping, beat three Derby runners coming back off the two-week layoff, including winner Mystik Dan, plus a group of new shooters.

Mystik Dan ran a solid race to come in second by 2 1/4 lengths, but he never seriously threatened to pass Seize the Grey, ending his bid for the Triple Crown.

“He ran good. Wayne’s amazing,” said Kenny McPeek, Mystik Dan’s trainer. “What can you say?”

Although the rain was off and on for much of the day, leading the dirt track to be rated muddy, the sun started to peek through the clouds just before post time at 7:01 p.m. Those conditions might have helped the eventual winner, even if Lukas didn’t see it that way at first.

Coming into Saturday, Seize the Grey had two starts in wet dirt as a 2-year-old. He broke his maiden at Saratoga in July 2023, leading the field from the quarter pole onward, and placed third in the Skidmore Stakes at the upstate New York track in August.

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Under jockey Jaime Torres, Seize the Grey broke well from post No. 6 and had a clear path to the front as horses to his left and right veered away, giving the colt ample running room.

As was expected, Baffert trainee Imagination moved to the front, with both horses crossing the wire the first time roughly even. Seize the Grey, however, grabbed a better tactical position along the rail as Imagination swung out to the three-path on the clubhouse turn.

On the backstretch, Seize the Grey gained separation of about two lengths, trailed by Imagination, Just Steel and Mystik Dan.

Seize the Grey maintained his lead into the far turn, even as Mystik Dan moved up to second to press for the front and closer Catching Freedom made a late bid.

When he turned for home, Seize the Grey kicked away and separated by two lengths — a lead he would not give up. Mystik Dan came with a drive, but it was not enough.

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“He just relaxed for me, and he felt the other horses coming close and he was just looking at them,” said Torres, who captured his first Triple Crown race. “As soon as I asked, I had a lot of horse. That was like from the quarter [pole] to the wire, he gave me everything.”

Seize the Grey paid $21.60 for a $2 win bet. The time of the 1 3/16-mile race was 1:56.82.

A native of Wisconsin who graduated from the state’s flagship university with a master’s in education, Lukas coached basketball at Logan High School in La Crosse while doubling as a trainer of quarter horses, which are bred to run at short distances.

In the late 1970s, he switched to thoroughbreds full time and became one of the game’s most successful trainers.

As he told the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Alumni Association in 2018, the lessons of observation he learned on the basketball court proved valuable with fast-running horses.

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“You try to evaluate clearly what their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “It takes a lot of observation and gut reaction to determine what a horse is capable of doing and what he isn’t.”

Initially, he thought the “gods of racing” were helping Mystik Dan with a wet track. Lukas said the Kentucky Derby winner won a “sensational race in the mud” in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. The colt happened to beat another Lukas trainee and Preakness runner, Just Steel, by eight lengths.

But then he saw Seize the Gray cruising down the backstretch, knowing he was “dead fit” from his race at Churchill Downs two weeks prior.

“When he hit the half-mile pole, I turned to my wife, Laurie, and I said, ‘Watch out, we’re home free,’” Lukas said. “After having that Pat Day Mile under his belt, I didn’t think he’d back up one iota.”