Oxbow went wire-to-wire in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday (Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
D. Wayne Lukas didn’t waste any time returning his Preakness Stakes winner to Churchill Downs after winning the race Saturday afternoon. Before dawn on Sunday, Oxbow was on a van with eight other Lukas horses back to the Kentucky track. Lukas was also aboard the van, preferring to ride with his horses on their road trips.
“I’ve always rode with the horses all my career,” said Lukas “I used to go on the airplanes and stand there with them all the time. We don’t fly much anymore.”
Yesterday’s win was Lukas’ record breaking 14th U.S. classic win and his sixth Preakness victory. Oxbow is his first Preakness winner since Charismatic in 1999 and his first classic winner since Commendable won the Belmont Stakes in 2000. He looks win the Belmont 13 years later with Oxbow in three weeks.
While he knew that Oxbow had a major shot at the race, he downplayed the colt’s chances all week.
“I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome,” Lukas said. “Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can’t check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward.”
PREAKNESS STAKES SLIDESHOW (ECLIPSE SPORTSWIRE)
In other Preakness news
Orb was on a van headed back to New York at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The colt finished fourth in the Preakness but came out of the race in good shape.
“He came out of it fine. He’s sound. Physically, everything is fine,” said trainer Shug McGaughey. “We’ll get him up the road and evaluate the situation to see where we’ll go.”
While there was disappointment that Orb wasn’t returning home with a Triple Crown on the line, McGaughey appreciated his Derby victory even more after the loss.
“Winning the Derby was my lifelong dream. We won it. I would have loved to win (Saturday) to take it to the next level, so I do appreciate how tough it is,” McGaughey said. “If I have the opportunity again (to compete in the Derby), I may cherish it even more, because I’ve seen how tough it is to get it done. Maybe, I do appreciate how tough it is to win more. As brilliant as we were two weeks ago, we weren’t as brilliant yesterday.”
Itsmyluckyday was bright on Sunday morning, a day after finishing second in the Preakness but the colt only has a 50 percent chance of heading to New York for the Belmont. Instead, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. is sending the colt to his home base at Monmouth Park for a run at the Haskell Invitational on July 28.
“As far as future plans, nothing is on the board right now,” he said. “I’ll get together with the owners at the beginning of the week and we’ll discuss what to do. He’s had two races close together and I think that’s going to be taken into account when we have that conversation.”
A day after the race, Amoss believes Mylute ran the best race of his career after being able to finish so well with the slow pace.
It is possible that the son of Into Mischief will try turf at the Del Mar meet this summer or he may return east for the Haskell or Travers.
“We’ll relax and see what’s in the cards five, six, seven weeks down the road. You’ve got the 3-year-old series on the turf down at Del Mar, so we could possibly try a different surface with him,” O’Neill said. “Or we could go over him good, train him out there and then look for races like the Haskell or Travers somewhere down the road. We’ll huddle up with the owners and put together a game plan. He’s a good horse. You’ll be hearing from him."
Departing returned to Kentucky on Sunday morning. While the gelding was physically fine after his sixth-place finish, he was “very tired” after the race.
Govenor Charlie came out of the Preakness fine and is scheduled to ship to California with stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay (winner of Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan).