Jaime Torres, atop Seize The Grey, looks on during post...

Jaime Torres, atop Seize The Grey, looks on during post time prior to participating and winning the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Baltimore. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

BALTIMORE — Jaime Torres was watching horse racing on television in his native Puerto Rico in 2019 when he decided he wanted to be a jockey.

Less than five years later and just two since he began riding, Torres won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday aboard Seize the Grey. To add even more to the biggest accomplishment of his young career, his parents flew to Baltimore to surprise him and were able to celebrate his upset victory.

Torres said he made the decision to quit college and go to jockey school and thought to himself that if he does it, he needs to make it.

“I haven’t rested since then,” the 25-year-old Torres said. “I’ve been working very hard, very hard, not thinking what’s going to happen but working for it. You can’t think like, ‘Oh, that’s going to happen.’ You’ve just got to work and work, and it will come.”

Torres, who also guided Seize the Grey to victory in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 4 at Churchill Downs, had never ridden a Triple Crown race before. He's now 1 for 1.

Sitting next to Torres at the winners' post-race news conference, 88-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas told him he used to live and is still close friends with the best Puerto Rican jockey Angel Cordero, who won the Derby three times, the Preakness twice and the Belmont Stakes once.

“If you can just follow in his footsteps with his desire and so forth, you’re going to be just fine,” Lukas said.

Jaime Torres, left, kisses the Woodlawn Vase, as Seize The...

Jaime Torres, left, kisses the Woodlawn Vase, as Seize The Grey part owner, Michael Behrens, center, founder and CEO of MyRacehorse, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas, right, look on after winning the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Baltimore. Credit: AP/Julia Nikhinson

DAMPENED CROWD

Preakness officials did not yet have an attendance figure, but the stands and infield were noticeably less crowded than in recent years — certainly a product of the on-and-off rain that fell throughout the day.

There were just under 47,000 fans at the race last year and 42,000 in 2022, which were significant declines from 100,000-plus each time from 2011-19.

FADED IMAGINATION

Jaime Torres kisses Seize The Grey after they won the...

Jaime Torres kisses Seize The Grey after they won the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Baltimore. Credit: AP/Julia Nikhinson

Two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert was one of the first people to congratulate Lukas on his victory, which also came with his horse, Imagination, finishing seventh in the field of eight. Baffert was supposed to have the favorite in the race, but Muth was scratched Wednesday because of a fever.

Imagination's jockey, accomplished Italian rider Frankie Dettori, said he could not get the colt to relax during the Preakness.

“I think he wanted to run,” Baffert said. “We didn't really have a plan. We thought it would be Wayne or us. Frankie probably thought he was in a good spot. At the end of the day, it was a great tactic.”

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