In the days leading up to the 146th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1), usracing.com is profiling the contenders. The 1 3/16-mile second leg of the Triple Crown is May 15. Profiles will be updated with post positions and odds following the draw on Tuesday (May 11).
By Jenny Kellner
- Ram is likely to be the longest shot in the field, but who cares when 85-year-old D. Wayne Lukas has a horse in the Preakness?
The Hall of Famer saddled his first Preakness winner in 1980, when Codex, with Angel Cordero, Jr., aboard bullied his way to victory over Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk. Now, 41 years later, Lukas will be looking for a record-tying seventh win the in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Ram needed eight races to win for the first time in a maiden claimer at Oaklawn Park on April 16 and followed it up with an allowance win at a mile at Churchill Downs on May 1.
“We realize he has to step forward to be effective,” Lukas said. “But when these horses are doing well, sometimes they’ll step up and do what you want them to do.”
In his first seven races from July 2020 through March 2021, his only in-the-money finish was a second back in September.
Nonetheless, Lukas said, “I always thought this horse had potential. He was immature; he’s a May 13 foal. I bought him as a yearling. I liked him then. He was a little bit feminine, which I like. I gave him plenty of time, waiting for him to come around.”
Ram, who will be ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., arrived by van – with Lukas riding shotgun — arrived at Pimlico from Churchill Downs on Monday.
“The ship was easy,” Lukas said. “I think this was the quickest we ever made it.”
Trainers Bob Baffert and Robert Wyndham Walden each have seven wins in the Preakness.
Lukas has pulled off many surprises during his illustrious career that totals more than 4,800 victories.
“I don’t have any grandiose ideas, but I think I could surprise some people how well this horse runs,” Lukas said. “I think the horses that ran in the Derby had a hard race. Ram had the most perfect prep for the Preakness you could have. He rated kindly behind those horses, circled them five, six wide and went off and won. Now whether that equates to a big Preakness, I don’t know.”
Post position: TBD
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Owner: Christina Baker, William Mack
Career record: 9-2-1-0
Career earnings: $119,615
Best Equibase speed figure: 88
Pedigree: American Pharoah-Miner’s Secret, by Mineshaft
Running style: Mid-pack
Notes: Lukas’ six Preakness winners are Codex (1980); Tank’s Prospect (1985); Tabasco Cat (1985); Timber Country (1995); Charismatic (1999); and Oxbow (2013) … Lukas has won 14 Triple Crown races (Derby, 4; Preakness, 6; Belmont, 4) … Ram is a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah … Purchased for $375,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Jenny Kellner is an award-winning journalist and proud owner of Toby, an 11-year-old prize-winning palomino quarter horse. Jenny was among the first female sports columnists in the United States, and has worked for the New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and Newsday. Jenny also was a senior media director at the New York Racing Association, and has been an elementary school and middle-school teacher in New York, and currently in Colorado.