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Preakness Stakes News | Jaime Torres “Very Thankful” For Mount
Torres embracing Seize the Grey after winning the Pat Day Mile (Casey Laughter)

Preakness Stakes News | Jaime Torres “Very Thankful” For Mount

Jockey Jaime Torres fell in love with horse racing & the Preakness Stakes (G1) when he watched on television as Authentic, co-owned by Spendthrift Farm and the MyRacehorse fractional-ownership entity, captured the COVID-delayed Kentucky Derby (G1) of 2020.

Fast forward 3 ½ years and Torres will make his Triple Crown riding debut in the 149th Preakness at Pimlico Race Course aboard MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey. That colt gave the 25-year-old Torres his first victory in a graded stakes in the $600,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard.

“I have no words for it,” Torres said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity from MyRacehorse and (trainer) Wayne Lukas.”

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Seize the Grey pushed the pace in the Pat Day Mile, split horses in mid-stretch and edged away late from favored Nash for a 1 ¼-length victory over Nash before the Derby Day crowd.

“He rode a very good race on that horse,” Lukas said. “I see no reason to change. I give young riders an opportunity if they have ability. Those who look like they have a future, I don’t mind pitching in and helping. (But) you can’t lead with your heart. You have to make a business decision. I feel real comfortable with him on that gray horse. He’s real level-headed. I don’t think he’ll get caught up in the hype at all.”

Torres has said that horse racing got on his radar when his mom was flipping through the television channels and races from Puerto Rico’s Hipódromo Camarero were on. He said he went to the track the next day.

But it was watching the Derby the next year that sealed his future.

“That’s when MyRacehorse won the Derby with Authentic,” he said. “When I rode Seize the Grey for the first time and saw their silks in my locker, I was like, ‘Wow! I’m going to ride for MyRacehorse and D. Wayne Lukas.’”

Torres admits he didn’t know anything about racing horses when he showed up at Puerto Rico’s famed jockey school at the track, starting in the year-long program for exercise riders. He said he stayed for six months before flying to Florida to start working for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., but his goal all along was to ride races.

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“I knew it was going to be pretty hard for me riding in Puerto Rico, because the weight is less, like 109 (pounds),” Torres said. “So, I just flew to the U.S.A. and tried to start here. To be in the (jockey) school, you have to be 105 for two years. That was kind of tough for me; I mean, I’m tall.”

His first victory came on Sept. 17, 2022 at Gulfstream Park on Takestwotowiggle, who paid $28.20 to win in the $6,250 claiming race. Torres subsequently was the leading apprentice in New York in 2023 with 37 victories. 

Among those wins was a Saratoga maiden race on Seize the Grey at 13-1 odds. Later that fall, Torres had a good fourth in Churchill Downs’ Iroquois (G3) and a third in a Keeneland allowance race before being reunited with Seize the Grey for the Pat Day Mile, which they won at 9-1.

Torres rode at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds over the winter before joining the Kentucky circuit. Through Friday, he had 145 career victories and almost $7.3 million in purse earnings after riding only 20 months.

Asked about going from knowing nothing about racing to riding in a Triple Crown race just a few years later, Torres said, “It’s crazy. If someone told me that before I started, I would be like, ‘naw.’ I’m very happy, very blessed.”

Torres has never ridden at Pimlico but expects to have a couple of mounts before the Preakness. He said he has no concerns about Seize the Grey going from the Pat Day’s one-turn mile to the Preakness’ 1 3/16 miles.

“I think he’ll be fine. I mean, he’s by Arrogate,” he said, referencing the late stallion who won the 1 ¼-mile Travers (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) as a 3-year-old in 2016 and started his 4-year-old season with victories in the Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the Dubai World Cup (G1).

Lukas has named new Hall of Fame inductee Joel Rosario to ride Just Steel for the first time in the Preakness. After finishing second in the Arkansas Derby, Just Steel was part of a resolute pace in the Derby, tiring to 17th.

Rosario has won the Derby (Orb in 2013) and the Belmont (Tonalist in 2014, Sir Winston in 2019) but never the Preakness, in which he’s had four seconds.

“He’s overdue,” Lukas quipped. “I think that’s a good fit. We don’t want to change the horse’s style. I don’t blame (jockey) Keith (Asmussen) for the last time, because he got in trouble (after being bumped hard early in the race) when the horse grabbed the bit and pulled him up there. So, there he was on the lead or near it. We’ll try to correct that next time.”

Lukas said Flavien Prat will ride Oaklawn Park’s Honeybee (G3) winner Lemon Muffin, eighth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Eve.

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