Derby Winner Mystik Dan Set to Resume Training Wednesday

May 7th, 2024

Mugatu Confirmed for Start in Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown

Lukas Returns for Preakness Weekend After Rare Year Off

Muth, Imagination Will Tune Up for G1 Preakness on Weekend

BALTIMORE, MD – Mystik Dan, who had another easy day walking around the shedrow Tuesday, is scheduled to resume training at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning four days after capturing Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1).

“That’s a typical routine for us,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “We’ll walk them three days (after a race). He could have gone back to the track (Monday) if we’d wanted, but he didn’t need to.”

While no decision has been made on Mystik Dan’s status for the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Baltimore’s historic Pimlico Race Course on May 18, the McPeek trainee so far has done nothing that would cause McPeek to rule out the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“Not at all,” McPeek said. “Same thing. We’ve just got to get through the weekend and take it from there.”

Mystik Dan will go to the track about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, the trainer said. Entries for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness will be taken Monday.

The barn’s visitors Tuesday included the management team at Spendthrift Farm, which stands both Mystik Dan’s sire, two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents, and Goldencents’ sire, the sensational stallion Into Mischief.

Into Mischief, in turn, is by the late Harlan’s Holiday, whom McPeek trained as a 2- and 3-year-old. After winning the Florida Derby (G1) and Toyota Blue Grass (G1), Harlan’s Holiday finished seventh in the 2002 Kentucky Derby as the 6-1 favorite in a race won wire-to-wire by War Emblem. Harlan’s Holiday then finished fourth in the Preakness Stakes, also won by War Emblem.

Mugatu Confirmed for Start in Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown

Average Joe Racing Stables Ltd. and Dan Wells’ Mugatu, most recently fifth in the April 6 Blue Grass (G1), will return in the $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course May 18, trainer Jeff Engler reported Tuesday.

Mugatu rallied from last in the 10-horse Blue Grass field to finish fifth behind Sierra Leone, Just a Touch, Epic Ride and Dornoch, all of whom went on to run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. Seize the Grey, who finished seventh in the Blue Grass, went on to win the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Derby undercard.

The son of Blofeld, who broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park by 3 ¼ lengths Nov. 18, had run four times over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface without success prior to the Blue Grass at Keeneland.

“He’s getting better. He really moved up on the dirt. His numbers proved it. Seize the Grey, who won the Pat Day Mile, we finished in front of him in the Blue Grass. I heard Seize the Grey is going in the Preakness, so it’s a logical spot,” Engler said. “We were a little frustrated we didn’t get into the Derby. We feel the more distance the better for this horse. I do like the mile and three-sixteenths, so we’re going to head up.”

Mugatu is scheduled to breeze five furlongs Saturday before shipping to Pimlico.

Lukas Returns for Preakness Weekend After Rare Year Off

It’s a rare spring that Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas misses out on Preakness Weekend at Pimlico, but the spring of 2023 was one. However, the transformative trainer will be back this year with two horses in the 149th Preakness (G1) May 18, one in the 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and possibly others for undercard stakes.

The Churchill Downs-based Lukas expects to run both his Pat Day Mile (G2) winner Seize the Grey and Just Steel, who was part of a strong pace in the Kentucky Derby (G1) before weakening to 17th, in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. He said Lemon Muffin, winner of Oaklawn Park’s Honeybee (G3) earlier in the year, is on course to run back in the $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan on Preakness Eve.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful event,” Lukas said of the stakes-packed weekend at Old Hilltop. “Really, of all of them (Triple Crown races), it’s probably the most enjoyable. Not as pressure-packed. Everything about it is nice.”

MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey earned his first stakes victory with a stalking, 1 ¼-length victory over favored Nash in Saturday’s Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs. Just Steel earned his Kentucky Derby berth with a second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) behind the Bob Baffert-trained probable Preakness favorite Muth, with Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan finishing third that day.

“I don’t think any the less of him off his last race,” Lukas said of Just Steel, who is owned by BC Stables LLC and Henry Schmueckle. “Seize the Grey obviously was impressive. The other horse went way too quick the first half-mile, the first quarter, actually. I think you’ve got to give him another chance and look at (the Preakness). I’m counting on getting a good race out of him. The favorite is probably going to be Baffert’s horse, and we were very contentious with him the last time. We can’t be too far off a good effort.”

He said running back in two weeks is not ideal but the risk/reward ratio makes sense for a horse that is doing well.

“It depends on the horse, his physical status, of course, and the way they respond to a two-week rest,” Lukas said. “None of us as trainers think the two weeks (spacing) is perfect. I’ve had good luck with it in the past. My horses have responded well, and I see no reason why these two won’t either.”

Five of Lukas’ six Preakness winners ran in the Derby, the most recent Oxbow, who was sixth at Churchill Downs in 2013. His only Preakness winner who didn’t contest the Derby was his first, Codex, in 1980. Back then, each Triple Crown race had its own nominating procedures, and Codex was not nominated to the Derby.

Lemon Muffin finished eighth over a sloppy, sealed track in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) after breaking last in the 14-horse field.

“We’re going to try to get a real positive trip like we got in the Honeybee,” Lukas said. “I don’t think she cared for the racetrack, frankly. You try to find a reason why they don’t run to your expectations and you try to analyze it and don’t penalize them for a bad race here and there when the track was like that. I thought we’d give her another chance.”

Muth, Imagination Will Tune Up for G1 Preakness on Weekend

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday morning that his Preakness (G1) candidates, Muth and Imagination, will breeze at Santa Anita Park this weekend and ship to Baltimore Tuesday, May 14.

The colts worked in tandem May 4 at Santa Anita, covering six furlongs in 1:11.40, the fastest time at the distance that morning.

Baffert, 71, is seeking his record-extending ninth victory in the Preakness. He earned his first Preakness win in 1997 with Silver Charm and secured the eighth last year with National Treasure.

Muth, owned by Zedan Racing Stables, won the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park in his most recent start March 30. The son of Good Magic was purchased for $2 million as a 2-year-old at the 2023 OBS March sale. He has four wins – two of them in Grade 1 races – and two seconds in six starts and has earned $1,504,100 in purse money.

Jockey Juan Hernandez, who has been aboard Muth in each of his starts, will ride the colt in the Preakness, said Baffert.

Imagination was second by a neck to Stronghold in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 6 and has breezed three times since. He picked up his first stakes victory in the San Felipe (G2) March 3. The partnership of SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Dianne Bashor, Robert Masterson, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan and Tom Ryan purchased Imagination for $1,050,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in 2022. The Into Mischief colt has a record of 2-4-0 in six starts and earnings of $406,800.

Jockey Frankie Dettori has ridden Imagination in his last two starts and Baffert said Dettori will be back aboard for what will the international standout’s first appearance in the Preakness.

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