Vintage Lukas

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Just give D. Wayne Lukas the mic at the annual Alibi Breakfast and let him rip.

That proved the case for the annual pre-Preakness gathering’s emcees Thursday at Pimlico Race Course, after a few initial technical difficulties getting the hand-held microphones to work, Keith Mills and Scott Garceau let the Hall of Famer do what he’s always done at the Alibi.

“I’m glad to be back,” said Lukas, who will send out his 44th Preakness starter Saturday in Market King. “I’ve got my lovely wife with me. I was talking to her the other day and said, ‘do you in your wildest, wildest, wildest dreams ever think you’d be married to a guy that’s won six Preaknesses?’ She looked at me and said, ‘you’re not in my wildest dreams.’ ”

The warm-up complete, the 83-year-old Lukas kept it rolling. Some was recycled from prior Alibi Breakfasts or other speaking engagements, but it nonetheless tickled the crowd.

As one observer in the group noted, “everyone’s trying to be funny but Lukas is the only one that’s actually funny.”

“I found out the secret to a successful marriage,” he said. “We go dancing twice a week. I go on Tuesday, she goes on Thursday.”

Lukas later explained his reasoning for returning to Baltimore for the Preakness with Market King, a son of Into Mischief beaten 37 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass in his most recent start April 6 at Keeneland.

“I like to come here and have an excuse,” Lukas said. “I looked down the shedrow and he’s probably the best excuse I’ve got. I didn’t have anything that I thought could really run so I thought ‘I’ll take him, he’s pretty, he looks good, he’s got good breeding.’

Lukas bought Market King for longtime clients Bob Baker and Bill Mack for $550,000 out of the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s won once in eight starts – a maiden race in early February at Oaklawn – and finished third behind Omaha Beach and Game Winner in the Grade 2 Rebel in Hot Springs.

“They only let me buy two a year,” Lukas said of his owners. “It’s not like Baffert where they lead every good one over. Now they’ve been buying them. We’ve had some Grade 1 winners. This is a nice horse. I think my biggest concern will be whether he can get a mile and three sixteenths. He’s got a little speed, he’ll probably get into it early. If you’re at Pimlico and you’re going to try and get a route of ground with a horse this might be the place to be. It seems like horses stay around a little longer.”

The little dig on Bob Baffert, who will try to win his eighth Preakness Saturday with morning-line favorite Improbable, wasn’t the only joking jab at one of Lukas’ colleagues. After being asked about his rivalry with Baffert through the years, Lukas spun it another way.

“Here’s a statistic,” he said. “Bob and I and Mark Casse have won 13 Preaknesses between us. Bob’s got seven, I’ve got six, Mark’s trying to get one.”

“Now, here’s another statistic. Between my rider, Jon Court, and myself we’ve got 141 years of experience on a horse. Jon’s 58, I think he’s the oldest rider to ride a Preakness.”