BALTIMORE — A deal by Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm to purchase graded stakes-placed Mr. Z from Zayat Stables was finalized Wednesday, according to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a move that will lead to the colt running in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
Mr. Z has been the subject of much debate following his 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Owner Ahmed Zayat, who also owns Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, had said he did not want to run Mr. Z in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Lukas, however, vanned the son of Malibu Moon from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course Tuesday afternoon, saying that the colt "would run in the Preakness or he wouldn't run (at Pimlico) at all."
Mr. Z was indeed among the eight horses entered in the Preakness Stakes field Wednesday with Calumet Farm listed as owner and Corey Nakatani with the mount. Shortly after post positions were drawn for the $1.5 million classic, Lukas said the deal was "signed up, bill of sale and everything."
"It's kind of amazing. It's very difficult to get two people of that magnitude to agree on something that quickly and close it out," said Lukas, who said dialogue between the two sides began Tuesday.
Zayat is in Italy on a business trip. Lukas said that while Zayat would have never run Mr. Z against American Pharoah on Saturday, he did get the go-ahead to put the chestnut colt on the van to Pimlico Race Course "in case something happens."
Mr. Z has lost 12 straight races since breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs last June with his best showings being a runner-up finish in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October and a third-place effort in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity in December. Despite the colt's skid, Lukas has maintained that Mr. Z is training as well now as ever.
"People say I'm not realistic, but I've made a living running where I don't belong," said Lukas, who has won the Preakness six times. "And Mr. Kelley is realistic. I told him we could run last, could be in the middle, we could win it.
"I don't think he bought this horse thinking they had to win the Preakness. I think they bought this horse thinking he's going to have a really nice horse through the fall. And I'm anxious to try this horse on the grass at some point."
The tandem of Lukas and Calumet have had recent success in the 13⁄16-mile Preakness Stakes, winning the 2013 edition with current Calumet stallion Oxbow.