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AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Black-Eyed Susan cocktails were flowing, D. Wayne Lukas was telling jokes and things finally felt fully back to normal at Old Hilltop.
While the Kentucky Derby winner isn’t at the Preakness, the tradition of the Alibi Breakfast returned Thursday to Pimlico Race Course after a two-year absence because of the pandemic. The event has evolved from its origins in the 1930s but still brings owners, trainers and other horsemen together for chicken and waffles in the kind of relaxed, lighthearted atmosphere the second jewel of the Triple Crown is known for after the intensity of the Derby.
“Everybody lightens up a little bit,” said Lukas, the 86-year-old Hall of Fame trainer who is aiming for a record-tying seventh Preakness victory with filly Secret Oath. “When you get through the Derby, everybody exhales and thinks, ‘Well OK, now that’s over’ and they start coming here. And the camaraderie of everybody sharing the locker room, it changes the whole dynamic of the whole thing.”
Years ago, the Alibi Breakfast gave owners and trainers the opportunity to boast about their horses and provide cheeky reasons why they might not win. In 2019, Lukas zinged trainer Mark Casse by saying they combined with Bob Baffert for 29 Triple Crown victories: 14 for Lukas and 15 for Baffert.
Casse joined the club two days later, making it 30 by winning the Preakness with War of Will. “We kissed him right in,” Lukas said.
Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhynoHorses