All joking aside, trainer D. Wayne Lukas seems pretty confident his horses will have some say in the outcome of the May 18 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). It may have something to do with the fact he has three colts in the nine-horse field.
"It's better than having one," said Lukas, who took control of the Alibi Breakfast at Pimlico Race Course May 16 with a few jokes and discussion of the second leg of the Triple Crown. "I don't really have any alibis."
Willis Horton's Will Take Charge at 12-1 is the shortest of Lukas' three runners on the Preakness morning line. Lukas insisted the Unbridled's Song colt had a legitimate excuse when he finished eighth in the May 4 Kentucky Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
"I got to watch the overhead view (of the Derby)," Lukas said. "He got stopped pretty badly. He's a pretty talented horse. You have to remember he's 16 hands (tall), so you can't stop and start with him."
"I think he's dangerous in here," Lukas said of Oxbow, a grade III stakes winner.
The longest morning-line shot for Lukas is 30-1 Titletown Five, a Tiznow colt he co-owns with Paul Hornung, Edward Martin, Willie Davis, David Miller, and M. Shade. He finished fourth in the Derby Trial (gr. III) April 27 at Churchill Downs.
"He's playing catch-up," Lukas said. "He chipped a knee last year, but he has got a lot of talent. He beat Orb once. He's a longshot, and deservedly so, but he'll make some noise."
As for Orb, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Florida Derby (gr. I), and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in succession, Lukas said: "I think he's the horse to beat."
The Alibi Breakfast, held each year the Thursday morning of Preakness week, featured several award presentations. Horse Player NOW earned the Special Award of Merit; Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form won the David F. Woods Memorial Award for best Preakness story from 2012; Gerry Sandusky of WBAL-TV and Mike Penna of Horse Racing Radio Network received Old Hilltop Awards; and Barbara Livingston of DRF won the Jerry Frutkoff Preakness Photography Award Sponsored by Nikon.
The May 17-18 programs at Pimlico attracted about 280 total entries for two 13-race cards packed with stakes. Maryland Jockey Club president and chief executive officer Tom Chuckas credited the racing office, which like many others in the region has struggled to fill fields.
"It's a wonderful weekend of racing," Chuckas said. "The racing office did a fantastic job. We couldn't have done it without you."