2024 Preakness Contenders: JUST STEEL

The 149th Preakness (G1) is this Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The 1 3/16-mile race is the second leg of the Triple Crown. usracing.com is publishing profiles of the contenders.

2024 Preakness Stakes Contender JUST STEEL

Just Steel. Coady Photo

“Bumped hard early, steadied, vied” was Just Steel’s epitaph in the Kentucky Derby, where he backpedaled to 17th after pressing Track Phantom’s hot pace (:22.97, :46.63, 1:11.31) for 6 furlongs. After a game second in the Arkansas Derby behind Preakness favorite Muth, Just Steel’s Derby was too bad to be true.

A clean trip may be all the change Just Steel needs in the Preakness Stakes

Disregard it, which is what Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is doing. “He had a hard 6 furlongs too close to a fast pace,” Lukas said. “That probably gave us a reason to draw a line through that race.”

Just Steel is 0-for-5 this year with three seconds, but his 2024 earnings of $483,750 are only $16,250 short of his cost at the 2022 Keeneland Yearling Sale. His career bankroll is approaching $750,000, so his $500,000 price tag looks like a bargain.

Lukas is not easily discouraged and likes to run his horses when they’re fit. Just Steel has made 12 starts, an unusually high number for a colt on the Triple Crown trail. He’s back for more in Baltimore.

“The game has changed,” Lukas said. “Back in the Sixties and Seventies we ran back in the Preakness in two weeks and didn’t think anything of it. I think nowadays the younger trainers are a little bit protective of their horses.”

The Coach is almost 89, so he couldn’t be more Old School.

2024 Preakness Stakes Contenders, Odds, and Post Positions: Just Steel

Betting advice: Can’t recommend a win bet on Just Steel, who’s lost four in a row and 0-for-10 past 6½ furlongs. His best-case scenario is third or fourth at inflated odds.

Post position: 7

Odds: 15-1

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: BC Stables

Career record: 12-2-4-1

Career earnings: $724,545

Most recent race: Kentucky Derby, May 4 (17th)

Top Equibase speed figure: 112

Pedigree: Justify-Irish Lights, by Fastnet Rock

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notes: Lukas has won six Preakness’s – with Oxbow (2013), Charismatic (1999), Timber Country (1995), Tabasco Cat (1994), Tank’s Prospect (1985) and Codex (1980). Only Bob Baffert (eight) and R. Wyndham Walden (seven) have more. Walden set the record in 1888. Baffert broke it last year with National Treasure … Keith Asmussen rode Just Steel in the Derby but will be at Churchill Downs on Saturday riding in stakes races for his father, Steve. He’ll be replaced by Joel Rosario, recently voted into the Hall of Fame. Rosario was aboard for Just Steel’s two wins.

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