(Seize the Grey / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Seize the Grey in pole position for G1 Belmont Stakes

Seize the Grey, a frontrunning winner of the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, drew the inside post at Monday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets post-position draw held at Universal Preservation Hall in downtown Saratoga Springs. The talented grey colt could be on the lead once more when 10 sophomores line up for Saturday’s $2 million 10-furlong test, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by 88-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for MyRacehorse, Seize the Grey pounced to a 1 1/4-length score in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on May 4 on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs and followed last out with a gate-to-wire 2 1/4-length win over Kentucky Derby-winner and returning rival Mystik Dan in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.

Lukas, who has won the Belmont Stakes with Tabasco Cat [1994], Thunder Gulch [1995], Editor’s Note [1996] and Commendable [2000], said his horse is versatile enough to handle the challenge.

“If I had to choose a post, I wouldn’t choose post one but it’s not a dealbreaker by any means,” Lukas said. “With our tactical speed and everything else we have going for us, it’s no big deal.”

Seize the Grey, who shipped into Saratoga on Saturday, galloped over the Spa main track Tuesday as he reacquaints with a surface he graduated over last summer.

“I got him over to the main track and let him stretch his legs over there and that worked out very well,” Lukas said. “He doesn’t need any special attention or anything – he just gets out there and does what he does.

“Even though that [his maiden score] was a long time ago, he showed that he got over the racetrack here very well and he did this morning, too,” Lukas added. “He worked at home, so he’ll just have a couple strong gallops here and that’s all he needs. He’s fit by now.”

Lukas has captured 15 Triple Crown events over a storied career with four Kentucky Derby wins and seven Preakness scores to go along with his Belmont Stakes haul. And although Mystik Dan is the only member of Saturday’s 10-strong field to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, Seize the Grey has mirrored the Derby winner’s race spacing leading into the Belmont.

“The Coach” said he is focused this week on making sure his horse is mentally ready for the challenge.

“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,” Lukas said. “The part that changes is the mental aspect of it. You have to have a horse that’s going to adapt to a 20-horse field at Churchill and 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.

“A horse that is mentally comfortable in his own skin is going to come back in two weeks,” Lukas continued. “That’s the thing as a trainer that is so overlooked. All those guys I had in my program, I pushed that mental aspect all the time. Try to get that horse to settle where the Derby is just another day and two weeks later, we do it again.”

Lukas was a picture of contentment after training hours on Tuesday morning while resting comfortably in a lawn chair near Seize the Grey in a serene shed row.

“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.” Lukas said. “I’m watching him mentally the last two weeks and watching him today, 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.”

Seize the Grey, listed at 8-1 on the morning line, will again have the services of his regular pilot Jaime Torres. By Hall of Famer Arrogate, who sired last year’s Belmont Stakes-winner Arcangelo, the $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase has banked more than $1.8 million from a 10-4-0-3 record.