Lukas: Though 'Slow To Develop,' Ram Deserves His Shot In Preakness Stakes - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Lukas: Though ‘Slow To Develop,’ Ram Deserves His Shot In Preakness Stakes

D. Wayne Lukas and pony accompany the trainer’s Preakness contender, Ram, at Pimlico on Tuesday

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was back in very familiar territory Tuesday morning, sitting outside the Preakness Stakes Barn. After discussing his Preakness candidate Ram, who went to the track around 6:30 a.m., Lukas, 85, reminisced a bit about his 40-plus years of competing in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.

Christina Baker and William Mack's Ram will be Lukas' record 45th starter in the Preakness, marking the 30th time his trainer has had at least one runner. Lukas won with his very first Preakness starter, Codex in 1980, and has been to the winner's circle five other times, most recently with Oxbow in 2013.

Lukas said that Codex was assigned that last stall on the side of the barn facing away from the track and that his horses have been in that spot every year since.

Exercise rider Jade Cunningham was up on Ram for the trip to the track Tuesday morning.

“He just galloped a mile, but I let him catch his stride through the stretch, almost at a two-minute lick” Lukas said. “Just wanted to let him feel the track a little bit and see how he handled it.”

Lukas said he thought the son of American Pharoah got over the Pimlico surface just fine but without his usual enthusiasm.

“I didn't think he had a lot of energy. He's usually pretty tough to handle, but he was quiet and pretty mannered today,” Lukas said. “I didn't do a lot with him, but I'm glad I took him out there and let him stretch his legs.”

Ram was purchased for $375,000 as a yearling in 2019. He secured his first victory on April 16 in his eighth career start, a $50,000 maiden claimer at Oaklawn Park. He followed that success with an allowance race win in the first race of the Kentucky Derby (G1) program.

Lukas said he was not surprised that it took Ram some time to emerge as a capable race horse.

“He was slow to develop, physically and mentally,” said Lukas, noting that the transformation took place over the winter in Arkansas.

The allowance win prompted Lukas to consider the Preakness.

“He's gotten good lately,” Lukas said. “For that reason, I thought he deserved the chance; that plus I like to come here. I like this place. This is a fun race. Even if you don't win, it's enjoyable.”

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