BALTIMORE, 05-18-13 – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas made history at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday when he saddled Oxbow for a front-running upset victory in the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1). The 15-1 long shot gave his 77-year-old trainer his sixth Preakness victory, as well as his 14th triumph in a Triple Crown event.
Overlooked by the bettors, who made Kentucky Derby winner Orb their 3-5 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds, Oxbow was in control throughout the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown on his way to victory by 1 ¾ lengths under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
Shug McGaughey-trained Orb, who finished 9 ¾ lengths ahead of Oxbow while winning the Derby by 3 ½ lengths, was never a factor in the Preakness, finishing nine lengths behind the winner, who was one of three 3-year-olds representing Lukas.
A crowd of 117,203 flocked into Pimlico, the fourth highest mark in the history of the event. The day included the fifth annual InfieldFest which featured concerts by six bands, including headliners Pitbull and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
The 13-race card generated an all-sources handle of $81,940,233. The handle ranked as the sixth best for Pimlico’s signature day.
“It was a fantastic day to cap what was a wonderful weekend of racing and entertainment,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “I challenged my team to match last year’s record-setting afternoon and they answered the call. The initial feedback on the concerts is positive and the racing office put together a quality card from bottom to top.”
Oxbow, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, joined the Lukas-trained Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999) as a Preakness champion.
Oxbow’s triumph also created history for Stevens, who became the oldest jockey, at 50, to ride a Preakness winner. Eldon Nelson was 45 when he rode Bee Bee Bee to an upset win in 1972.
The Lukas-trained winner, who ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.54, also made more history for his owner, Calumet Farm, which celebrated its record eighth Preakness success and first since Forward Pass’s victory in 1968.
Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, finished second Saturday while tracking the pace early and steadily gaining on Oxbow in the stretch before running out of ground. Mylute, the fifth-place Derby finisher, closed from last to finish third, another half-length back under Rosie Napravnik, who rode the first winner of her career at Pimlico in June 2005 as a 17-year-old.
Orb, the shortest-priced Preakness favorite since Big Brown (2008), finished a half-length ahead of Goldencents, who was saddled by Doug O’Neill, who visited the winners’ circle last year with I’ll Have Another. He was followed by Departing, Will Take Charge, Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five. Will Take Charge and Titletown Five are also trained by Lukas, who has been represented by a record 40 Preakness starters.
PREAKNESS STAKES QUOTES
D. Wayne Lukas (trainer, Oxbow, winner) – “What a story this is. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and I’m just so happy for Mr. (Brad) Kelley. He’s trying to revitalize Calumet, and now Calumet is back in a Classic race. That’s just very gratifying. It’s been a while (Charismatic, 1999), but it never gets old. I have great respect for the Phipps family and Shug (McGaughey), but I was telling one of your colleagues that I get paid to spoil dreams.
“You can’t mail them in, so we keep trying. It’s a different surface, a different scenario and a different time. You gotta line ‘em up and run ‘em.
“Gary knows the horse a lot better than I do, so I told him to just go ahead and ride him. I told him ‘you might find yourself up there; if you do just get in a high cruising speed, and it worked.’ It doesn’t hurt to have a Hall of Famer or two (Stevens and Mike Smith) on your horses. I had good riders and I knew my horses trained well. When they threw up that 48 (half mile) and 1:13 (six furlongs), I said watch out. Unbelievable!
“I kind of lost track of my other two horses (Titletown Five and Will Take Charge) because this guy was in front almost the whole way.”
Gary Stevens (jockey, Oxbow, winner) – “We talked about strategy and I didn’t expect to be on the lead. In these Classic races you don’t give up anything you get for free. They gave me a free three-quarters of a mile today. I was smiling pretty good midway down the backside. I actually thought about Wayne (Lukas) up in the grandstand. I knew he would be looking at those fractions and be pleased with what he was seeing.”
“I jumped on him at the quarter pole and said, “let’s go now and just try and last.’ We did more than last today. When we pulled up he wasn’t a tired horse.”
Eddie Plesa Jr. (trainer, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “I’m very pleased with the way he ran. He ran his race. He simply just got beat by a horse that was trained perfectly by Wayne Lukas. We did run our race, but we just weren’t lucky enough to win.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Itsmyluckyday, 2nd) – “My horse ran awesome. The speed didn’t develop the way I thought it would. I thought Oxbow would be third or fourth, then all of a sudden I look up and Bob Baffert’s horse (Govenor Charlie) gets left and Oxbow was on the lead all by himself. I worried then about my horse, but he ran great.”
Tom Amoss (trainer, Mylute, 3rd) – “My horse ran great. The pace was a disappointment up front. I thought there would be more speed; it didn’t materialize. We were probably at the biggest disadvantage of all, coming from way back and being the widest in the race. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I actually look at this like a missed opportunity because my horse ran a big race today.”
Rosie Napravnik (jockey, Mylute, 3rd) – “He was very sluggish out of the gate for the first quarter of a mile. Then he got going. This is a tough course. I was too far back to see who the leaders were. This was a tough pace to follow. But he ran great down the lane and closed well.”
Shug McGaughey (trainer, Orb, 4th) – “I’m disappointed. It was a great opportunity. We were 3-5 and we finished fourth. I would be disappointed any time you had this kind of opportunity and didn’t get it done. This was quite a run for a couple of weeks. We’ll pack it up and go back home and see what kind of horse we’ve got down the road and figure it out from there.
“I don’t think two weeks had anything to do with it. Oxbow ran back in two weeks. Itsmyluckyday ran back in two weeks, Mylute ran back in two weeks. I just think he got himself in a position where he wasn’t comfortable and then without the pace scenario in front of him; they really weren’t spread out a little bit more than maybe I’d hoped. That probably affected him more than anything else.
“The pace was slower than I anticipated. I thought the pace would be quicker. I thought maybe they would speed it up a little bit but they didn’t. I still thought we would close into it, but it just wasn’t his day. He was just never real comfortable once he got down in there. I’m disappointed. I’ll probably be way more disappointed tomorrow but I know the game. It is highs and lows, probably more lows than highs. We had a great run two weeks ago. My hat’s off to Wayne to win his sixth Preakness. That’s pretty remarkable.”
Joel Rosario (jockey, Orb, 4th) – “He was in a good spot early in the race. They were going slow up front and he was fine. When I got to the half-mile pole, he had a hard time keeping up. I used my stick to try to get him going. He usually takes you there. He always runs hard. But today he never took off. He just steadied. Today was not his day.”
Doug O’Neill (trainer, Goldencents, 5th) – “I'm doing great. I thought Kevin (Krigger) had him in a great spot and when the winner kicked there, we just couldn't keep up with him. I'm very proud of Kevin and the horse. We're going to be fine. We've got a bright future. Definitely, he belongs among these horses and we're going to be in good shape. We'll be OK. I'll have to talk to (co-owner) Glen (Sorgenstein) and we'll put our heads together and see what's next."
Kevin Krigger (jockey, Goldencents, 5th) – “He didn’t run his race today. We were expecting him to run very well here, but it just doesn’t happen sometimes.”
Al Stall Jr. (trainer, Departing, 6th) – “He had no excuses. It looked like he got over the track OK. He just didn’t go on with it like he usually does.”
Brian Hernandez Jr. (jockey, Departing, 6th) – “I had a great trip. On the second turn, Orb was inside of me and we spurted away from him and got up to third. But he was just a little dull today. I don’t know why. It seemed like he handled the track OK. But it was a little deep.”
Mike Smith (jockey, Will Take Charge, 7th) – “He just really struggled with the racetrack. His legs were going everywhere from the word ‘go.’ He just couldn’t get a hold of it at all.”
Bob Baffert (trainer, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “If they would have yelled “about-face” I would have won easy at the wire. My horse missed the break and never really was in the race. I’m happy for Gary (Stevens) and Wayne (Lukas); that’s awesome.”
Martin Garcia (jockey, Govenor Charlie, 8th) – “He did not like the track at all. He was very uncomfortable all the way around.”
Julien Leparoux (jockey, Titletown Five, 9th) – “(Gary) Stevens took the lead early, and I was just kind of sitting there. I felt like I had a lot of horse under me when we turned for home. But he just kind of flattened out in the stretch.”