Lookin at Lucky, last year’s Juvenile champion and this year’s leading candidate for male 3 year old honors has been nothing short of spectacular. Was he the most dominant colt earlier this year? The answer is no, not to the naked eye at least. He won his 2010 debut by a head, but only after clipping heels on the backstretch and going 4 wide off the turn. In the Santa Anita Derby he was shoved into the rail, just as the field was turning for home, before regaining his composure and running on for third.
After his two preps came the horrendous Derby. On paper he was the beaten co-favorite, finishing sixth. Being run into the rail a total of three times, essentially losing all chance before the first turn, can explain that finish. It was in the Preakness Lucky’s Luck finally turned. The short margin, however, still left questions to his dominance. Was he really just barely the best of a mediocre field, or did three straight horrible trips just take the starch out of him?
Lucky came back and answered that question empathetically in the Haskell Invitational. It was a short field, but nonetheless a strong one, containing, First Dude the Preakness runner-up, Ice Box the Derby runner-up, Super Saver the Derby winner, and Trappe Shot the young impressive upstart. Lucky ran away with the field by over 4 lengths, in spectacular fashion. With that win Lookin at Lucky was all set to clean up the three year old division and launch a new assault on Horse of the Year.
Unfortunately, the travel took its toll on the impressive colt. He came out of the race with a fever that delayed his return to his California base and knocked him out of training for weeks. The illness cost him valuable time and could have a negative effect on his form. That kind of setback this close to the Breeders’ Cup Classic is never easily made up.
Bob Baffert, the colt’s trainer has now been put in a bind. There is no way he can have Lookin at Lucky ready for another ship across the county for the September 25 Pennsylvania Derby. Baffert has already stated that shipping so much this season took its toll on the colt, so shipping out of town for a later date, closer to the Breeders’ Cup, may not be a wise idea. What race could possibly be a good prep that gives Lucky enough time to become race ready and doesn’t require a ship out of state?
The Goodwood, during Oak Tree’s meet, at Hollywood Park would be the best options. It may not be conventional dirt, but it is the track in California that most resembles the surface. It is nine furlongs, which may leave more left in the tank for Lookin at Lucky than a race at 10 furlongs might. It also gives him a chance to face his elders, and another up and coming colt in Twirling Candy.
So, is the Goodwood the right way to go? Do you think Baffert should take a shot and ship out to Belmont for the Gold Cup? Would trying to make the PA Derby still be a good idea? The Goodwood certainly presents the most pluses and looks like the most logical choice at this stage for Lookin at Lucky.