My Winning Racehorse – A Racehorse Owner’s Thrilling Story


Torres, Kiss the Grey

Torres Thanks Seize the Grey

30 May 2024 – by Pamela Burton 

Sue Willis was one of the estimated 46,999 people screaming “Go, Go, Go,” as her horse, Seize the Grey (STG), took off from the starting gate under jockey Jaime (Hymie) Torres for the 18 May, 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes run. Torres quickly guided the Grey to the rail, taking the lead on the soggy Pimlico track.

The crowd’s cheering drowned out Sue as the son of Arrogate went wire to wire in the 149th Preakness, denying the 150th Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan by a convincing 2 1/4-length margin. 

Sue and Joe Willis and Joe’s sister Linda DeLeon®

Sue could not stop yelling “He won, he won!” while receiving congratulations from her husband Joe and friends as the horses slowed and turned back to the winner’s circle. Not only did her race horse win, but she was in Baltimore to see it.

18 May was also an amazing day for jockey Jaime Torres, winning his first Preakness in his first ever Triple Crown ride, and it was also the first Gr 1 race won by the 3-yr old, Seize the Grey. The 25-year old Torres, who had only been on the racing circuit for a little over 18 months, thanked trainer D, Wayne Lukas for his confidence to give him the ride.

Torres Put Him in Front

“In the (Preakness) race, I put him (STG) in the position in front and did not let anyone pass him,” Torres said. “I feel the connection when I get on him. When they give you everything, you feel the connection with him and he just wants to make you happy.”

The only thing Torres knew about racing he learned from watching racing on TV. He had decided after seeing a few races that he would be a jockey. He learned the trade as an exercise rider in Puerto Rico, and in 2022 he made the move to Gulfstream Park, Florida.

A year later, Torres was taken under wing by Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. and began winning races at Belmont and Saratoga. In Saratoga, his path connected him with D. Wayne Lukas, ‘The Coach’.  It was Torres that guided Seize the Grey to his maiden win on the horse’s second time out on 29 July 2023 on the sloppy Saratoga track.

D. Wayne Lukas holds up his 8th Preakness Trophy

D. Wayne Lukas holds up his 8th Preakness Trophy accompanied by MRH owner Michael Behrens

Lukas, before the 2024 race, already with seven Preakness wins to his credit, had confidence in Torres: “I want him to be better than he thinks he can be,” Lukas said of his “coaching” of Torres. Torres responded, delivering an excellent front runner performance on the day at the Preakness that went off at 9-1 odds while putting Lukas in the record book as logging his 8th Preakness win and as the oldest trainer at 88 to win a Triple Crown race.

Sue recounted: “My earliest remembrance was going to Santa Anita Race track with my Dad. This was before school age. I remember there was standing room only and my Dad was holding me. My Dad’s mother’s family all worked on ranches and we went to visit them on holidays where I wore my cowglrl outfit and my boots, and I would not take them off even with blisters on my heels,” she offers with a laugh.

“I started racing with Arabian horses,” Sue continued. “We purchased a show-bred Arabian, all there was for racing at the time in the US. We had a lot of fun and were part of the dynamic Arabian Racing scene in California at the time when the Middle East owners first got involved. Later we were invited to races in Abu Dhabi with the HH Sheikh , Mansoor Festival, which also supported Arabian racing in the US. We still have one racing Arabian who has done well but we will retire him this year.” 


Sue has continued the excitement of following her own race horses by joining (MRH), the fractional ownership app founded by Michael Behrens in 2018 that has successfully partnered many winners including being co-owner of 2020 Kentucky Derby winner, Authentic. 

Clearly Sue has followed pedigrees and winners and looks for opportunities. Share prices in MRH differ by pedigree, experience, and a myriad other criteria, but there are announcements for participants on what horses are available. Sue owns shares in 10 horses now and commented: “When I saw the son of Champion runner Arrogate, trained by D. Wayne Lukas coming soon, I made sure I got him. He comes from the third and final crop of Arrogate combined with a Smart Strike mare, Smart Shopping.”

Sue was one of 2,570 others that purchased shares of Seize the Grey at $127.00 a share. An added perk she admits is the fun to be with others of similar interests, to be able to mix and mingle with the some of the top trainer and players, and of course, some races give you ‘bragging rights’.

Seize the Grey is now pointed to the 8 June Belmont Stakes in Saratoga. Lukas was happy about how he looks going forward. “He actually rebounded from the Preakness better than we could have hoped. His energy level is really well up there, and he’s been very, very sound and working towards that next race in three weeks. I think it’s going to be no problem for him.” 

Still on cloud nine from her visit to the Preakness and watching the horse win of which she owns a share, Sue is keeping track of her other runners on the MRH app.”I always wondered what it would be like to own a horse in the Kentucky Derby or Triple Crown. It’s unbelievable!”

Preakness Race Video:

Kentucky Derby 4 May  Kentucky

Preakness 18 May, Baltimore

Belmont  8 June, Saratoga

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