Lukas to gauge Market King's best distance in Preakness Stakes

Maryland Jockey Club
May 15, 2019 02:32pm

Time tends to stand still at the far end of the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ base of operations for almost 40 years.


Now an elder statesman of the sport, Lukas was a brash up-and-comer in Thoroughbred racing when he brought Codex to the 1980 Preakness. Codex, assigned Stall 18, gave Lukas the first of his six Preakness wins and 14 Triple Crown victories. That part of the barn has been Lukas territory ever since.

Wednesday morning Lukas sat in a chair at the edge of the shedrow and kept an eye on Market King, his record 44th Preakness runner, as he peered out of Stall 18 and fiddled with his hay net.


Lukas, 83, accompanied the colt, co-owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, on a day-long trip by van from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course Tuesday and began his local preparations for the 144th Preakness. Typically, Lukas sent his colt out early Wednesday, shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m. under exercise rider Brooke Stillion.


“I jogged him a lap and galloped him a mile,” Lukas said. “I wasn’t going to take him because I figured after an 11-hour road trip it might be good to give him a walk day. But he was also sharp and kind of touted me that I should do a little something with him.”


Market King was third in a division of the Rebel (G2) March 16 and was on the Kentucky Derby trail until he was 11th in the Blue Grass (G2) on April 6. He was scratched from the Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day, May 4, and has had two sharp five-furlong breezes since.  


“He’s a fresh horse,” Lukas said. “I think he’s probably on his game pretty good.”


The Preakness is a high-profile proving ground for Market King, a son of Into Mischief, who Baker and Mack acquired for $550,000 as a yearling.


“We’re trying to find out something here,” Lukas said. “I know he is a really nice, talented miler. I want to try here because I think if he’s going to get a mile and three-sixteenths he’s probably going to get it here.  At least it will be a good test against world-class competition, the ones that are showing up here.

"It will answer some questions whether we’re going to start running in the King’s Bishop (G1) [the seven-furlong race at Saratoga renamed the Allen Jerkens] or the Travers (G1) or the Ohio Derby (G3). We’re trying to find that out.”


Veteran Jon Court, 58, who has been up on the colt for three of his eight career races, will be aboard in the Preakness.


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