"There are days when I wish I wasn't a horse trainer. I would say I'm in the thoroughbred business," Lukas said after arriving with Optimizer on Tuesday. "Public perception is a lot stronger than reality. Anytime you have [jockey] Robby Albarado beating up his girlfriend, or Doug O'Neill getting questionable tests in California, or you have Dutrow with Big Brown, none of that helps us. It is always magnified."

Lukas said that Dutrow doesn't have to cut corners — or even cheat.

"I think he's a good trainer and he doesn't need to," Lukas said. "I think he can stand on his own merit without ever pushing the envelope, if he is. I don't think he has to do anything but get up in the morning and just train 'em and he'll be fine."

Dutrow said that he doesn't feel any sense of urgency — and doesn't appear to have a morsel of regret — coming into Pimlico. It doesn't seem to matter to Dutrow that the only reason he is allowed to have horse in this year's Preakness is the fact that the 10-year ban is tied up in the courts.




A year ago, the owner of Dutrow's Preakness starter, Flashpoint, switched to another trainer days before the race. Dutrow is still getting plenty of good horses, evidenced by the fact that he currently leads all Belmont-based trainers in wins and is ninth nationally in earnings with more than $2.5 million.

"This has nothing to do with my situation or what's going on, nothing at all," Dutrow said about this year's Preakness. "We're hoping that he runs big in this race, maybe win it and take the next step from there."

don.markus@baltsun.com

Along with Zetterholm, four other horses are considered "shooters" at the Preakness after not running in the Kentucky Derby:

Tiger Walk: Sagamore Farm owner and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank's first Triple Crown race entry. Tiger Walk won its last two races as a 2-year-old, but has done no better than third as a 3-year-old.

Teeth of the Dog: Went wire-to-wire in winning for the first time by a head at Gulfstream back in February. Trained by Barbaro trainer Michael Matz.

Pretension: After a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Illinois Derby in April, Chris Grove's horse won the Canonero at Pimlico by a neck the same day as the Derby.

Cozetti: Has been all over the place since winning for the first time as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs back in November, with a third at the Tampa Derby in March his best finish since.

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