It is never to early to begin looking for potential Derby horses, and I for one have been looking since the juvenile season started, in search that something may capture my attention. So far this year I have seen talent come from the gritty Backtalk, the improving Discreetly Mine, and the intriguing FL talent, Jackson Bend. None, however, demonstrated the combination, of talent, mind, and determination quite like this horse though.For the third straight year I find myself falling in love with another West Coaster, this time it's the captivating Lookin At Lucky, so much for that east coast bias.
Lookin at Lucky has gone four for five this season, with his worst placing being a second. Up until his last start he had gone undefeated in his first four races, two were grade ones. He was the west coast sensation, and his easy wins soon earned him favoritism in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, the proving ground for all the top juveniles.
Unfortunately, Lookin at Lucky would not be so lucky come race day. Breaking from the outermost post, he was parked five wide wide through out the race, while he rated in mid pack off of a snail-like pace. As they began to move into the stretch Lookin at Lucky began a steady determined rally, and as the wire approached it looked like after all his trouble Lookin at Lucky would finally be rewarded. Fate was not so kind, however, as Vale of Your split the wall in front of him to nip Lookin at Lucky by the barest of margins, a scant nose.
As I look at Lookin at Lucky's resume it screams Kentucky Derby. By the end of this season he could have a total of six starts, should he run in the Cash Cal Futurity. This gives him a huge experience edge over his rivals. If Bob Baffert plays his cards right with this colt, he may only need to run him a couple of times before the Derby, giving him a fresh and experienced colt come Derby day. Not many trainers will have that luxury, seeing as how many either have colts that were lightly raced two year olds or are three year olds just getting started. Those horses will have to play catch up and will likely be hitting a wall by the time they reach the Derby.
Secondly Lookin at Lucky is just a flat out smart horse when he races. If you watch his four wins before the Juvenile you will notice he never runs a huge race, he does just enough to win. He does know when it's time to work, as he showed in the Juvenile as he was fully extended to win. He has the rare combination of the will to win, but to also conserve his energy at the same time. This will again help him be as fresh as possible by the time the first Saturday in May comes.
Another factor that could come into play is the distance, though, I don't feel that will affect him much either. His best races, in my opinion have come when running 8.5 furlongs, and I have a feeling he will enjoy even more distance. His sire is Smart Strike, who has sired the likes of Curlin, who was at his best going 10 panels, and star turf horse English Channel, who won up to 12 furlongs. You also see Derby winning Norther Dancer, Preakness and Belmont winner Native Dancer, giving further incentive he will have no trouble getting the distance. Not only that, but on his dams side is Icecapade, half brother to the immortal Ruffian, who also won up to 12 furlongs. Looking at this, and his past performances, I have little doubt that he will enjoy the distance.
The only real question that this talented young colt seems to have is will he handle dirt. Again I say yes he will. I just went through some of this colt's breeding, and it like the distance screams dirt. Again if you look at some Smart Strike's more notable foals you have Fabulous Strike and Curlin, both colts that relish the dirt. All the others Native Dancer and Norther Dancer were also at there best when on dirt.
Back to my original question, will Lookin at Lucky get Lucky in the Derby. When adding up all the positives like his experience, his smart push button way of racing, and determination, I say yes. Another thing he has going for him is that he will not harbor the cursed Juvenile Jinx, that has haunted ever Juvenile victor to gates of Churchill Downs, except for one. The chance for success here far outweighs the risk of a loss, so yes I think Lookin at Lucky will be very lucky in his run for the roses.