Lookin At Lucky Wins Preakness [UPDATED]

Lookin At Lucky, the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, redeemed himself in the Preakness Stakes, as he took the lead at the top of the stretch and stubbornly held off pacesetter First Dude and a closing Jackson Bend under new rider Martin Garcia. Derby winner Super Saver finished eighth.

Lookin At Lucky finally got the trip his connections had been hoping for. The son of Smart Strike, the 2-year-old champion male from last season, had not gotten a clean trip in any of his three races this year, including a troubled sixth-place Derby effort. In an attempt to change his "luck," trainer Bob Baffert replaced regular rider Garrett Gomez with Garcia for the Preakness. It worked out to perfection.

Baffert earned his fifth Preakness victory with Lookin At Lucky, who is owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. The California-based Garcia was making his debut in a Triple Crown race.

Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, Lookin At Lucky won for the seventh time in 10 starts. A $475,000 Keeneland April 2007 2-year-old in training sale purchase, he is out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling.

WinStar Farm's Super Saver, aiming to continue his quest to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, was sent off as the favorite, but tired badly. Ridden by Calvin Borel for trainer Todd Pletcher, the son of Maria�s Mon was in contention until the final turn but could not sustain his bid.

Garcia gave Lookin At Lucky the perfect trip in Preakness 135, keeping him sixth through the backstretch, but not too far back of pacesetter First Dude, who broke from post 11 and set ambitious opening splits under Ramon Dominguez. The son of Stephen Got Even broke straight for the lead and clicked off fractions of: 22.91 and :46.47, while Super Saver pressed the pace under Borel. Jackson Bend was also up close, as was Caracortado and Yawanna Twist.

After saving ground through the backstretch, Lookin At Lucky was angled away from the rail around the far turn and began to advance on the leader in tandem with Caracortado. Schoolyard Dreams was also moving well when they approached the quarter-pole.

Despite setting quick fractions, First Dude was still going well when they came off the turn, and he was heads apart with Lookin At Lucky and Caracortado when they straightened away for home. Lookin At Lucky, who was in the four-path, put away Caracortado approaching the final furlong and seemed to have the race wrapped up after taking a short lead at the eighth-pole. But First Dude would not go away along the inside and fought back at the leader in mid-stretch. Schoolyard Dreams, Yawanna Twist, and Jackson Bend all desperately closed on Lookin At Lucky in deep stretch but came up short.

Lookin At Lucky hit the wire in a final time of 1:55.47 for the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track. First Dude was three parts of a length ahead of Jackson Bend for runner-up. Yawanna Twist was fourth in a field of a dozen 3-year-olds.

A winner of five out of six starts as a juvenile, Lookin At Lucky clinched his Eclipse Award with a narrow score in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park in December. His 3-year-old campaign began in style too, as he overcame a troubled trip to nail Noble�s Promise at the wire in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March.

But the bay colt�s fortunes began to change in the Santa Anita Derby in April, when he was steadied badly around the five-sixteenths-pole en route to a disappointing third-place finish as the odds-on favorite. A month later in the Kentucky Derby his chances were again badly compromised, this time by drawing unenviable post 1, which played a major role in getting him squeezed, then bumped just after the start of the classic.

But the Preakness was a different story, as Lookin At Lucky finally received a trouble-free trip under Garcia.

Baffert won his first Preakness since 2002 when he did it with War Emblem. This story originally appeared on bloodhorse.com.

About the Author

Jason Shandler

Jason Shandler is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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