Stall one, but legend Lukas expecting big Seize The Grey run in Belmont

D. Wayne Lukas is backing Seize The Grey to emulate City Of Troy by overcoming a tricky stall one draw in Saturday night’s Belmont Stakes.

Ryan Moore managed to skilfully negotiate a safe passage around Epsom in the Derby from an inside perch on Aidan O’Brien’s superstar and Jaime Torres faces a similar test at Saratoga.

“If I had to choose a post, I wouldn’t choose post one but it’s not a dealbreaker by any means,” Lukas told the New York Racing Association.

“With our tactical speed and everything else we have going for us, it’s no big deal.”

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Lukas enjoyed the last of his four Belmont Stakes winners back in 2000 with Commendable, having previously claimed a hat-trick of victories with Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch and Editor’s Note in the mid-1990s.

The final leg of America’s Triple Crown has a temporary home at Saratoga, but Seize The Grey has the benefit of two previous outings at the track, including a win there on his juvenile debut.

“Even though that was a long time ago, he showed that he got over the racetrack here very well,” noted Lukas.

The son of Arrogate has already had a busy campaign in 2024, with last month’s Preakness Stakes defeat of Mystik Dan being his fifth start of the year.

That followed a Group Two Pat Day Mile Stakes triumph at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard, but Lukas is confident his charge can cope with such a hectic schedule.

The 88-year-old training legend said: “Fitness-wise, when you’re in the Triple Crown series, that’s almost a given.

“Every one of the trainers that pursue that avenue over the years are pretty much convinced they’ve got them fit.

“The part that changes is the mental aspect of it…you have to have one that mentally doesn’t fall apart on you coming back in two weeks.

“A lot of horses don’t fall apart because they’re tired – some of them do, some of them tuck up – but it’s usually a horse that worries about racing that doesn’t make the two weeks.

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Belmont Stakes Horse Racing
Trainer D Wayne Lukas (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

“A horse that is mentally comfortable in his own skin is going to come back in two weeks. That’s the thing as a trainer that is so overlooked.”

Seize The Grey has so far proven himself up to the task and Lukas believes there could even be a little bit more improvement left under the bonnet.

He declared: “I felt I had him really good for the Preakness and I was pretty right. I’m not so sure I don’t have him a little further down the basepath for this one.

“I’m watching him mentally the last two weeks… there’s no reason why we won’t get that same effort or better. No reason at all. We might walk over there and get a better effort.”

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