PREAKNESS MEMORIES: LOOKIN AT LUCKY CATCHES A BREAK
Lookin At Lucky, the eventual victor of the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes, came into the world on May 27, 2007. A son of Smart Strike, Lookin At Lucky was out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling.
Bred by Gulf Coast Farms LLC, Lookin At Lucky first went to auction at the age of one at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The bay colt failed to meet his reserve when the bidding stopped at the modest price of $35,000. Several months later, however, he commanded the lofty price of $475,000 when he was offered at the Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The winning bid went to Mike Pegram who would own the colt in partnership with Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Lookin At Lucky was placed in the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditioned the colt to four consecutive wins to start his career. As part of the streak, Lookin At Lucky rattled off scores in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1), and Norfolk Stakes (G1). It was not until the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that fall when Lookin At Lucky suffered his first defeat, finishing second by just a head in the Grade 1 event. The colt rebounded with a victory in the CashCall Futurity (G1) one month later, in the final start of his two-year-old season.
Lookin At Lucky earned the Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old colt, and there were understandably high hopes when he returned to the track as a three-year-old. A solid score in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park was a promising start to the season, but problems with traffic and poor post positions would go on to stand in the colt’s way. After finishing a troubled third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) the colt went on to Louisville where he faced a slew of traffic in the Kentucky Derby and could only manage to finish sixth.
While Lookin At Lucky endured an inauspicious trip from the tricky spot of post one in the Derby, it was Super Saver at odds of 8-1 who stole the show and the roses in Kentucky. Though the nation’s attention focused on the Derby hero as the Preakness loomed, once the dust settled two weeks later, it would become clear that the most talented three-year-old of 2010 was not the one that wore the roses on that first Saturday in May.
After being defeated in the Kentucky Derby as the favorite, the Preakness Stakes served as an opportunity for redemption for Lookin At Lucky. Prior to the race, Baffert made the decision to switch riders for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, replacing Garrett Gomez with Martin Garcia in the hopes of improving the luck of his colt, who seemed prone to finding traffic trouble in his races. With a new rider, a better post draw with #7, and a less chaotic start, Lookin At Lucky loomed as a serious threat to Super Saver’s bid for the Triple Crown once the starting gates flew open in the Preakness Stakes.
A crowd of over 95,000 fans rumbled with excitement at Pimlico Racecourse as the field of 12 thoroughbreds charged from the starting gate in pursuit of the cape of Black-Eyed Susans. First Dude flaunted early speed almost immediately, setting fast early fractions. Super Saver, the 9-5 favorite, galloped after him in second, with Lookin At Lucky hanging back in fifth after a zippy opening half-mile in 46.47 seconds.
As the final turn waited ahead, Super Saver could not have been in a better position to take over the race. But when his jockey Calvin Borel gave the command to go, the horse simply came up empty. While Borel implored his spent horse for more, Lookin At Lucky was just starting to get going from behind.
“When I asked him, he kind of just folded up. It happens,” said Borel.
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Rounding the turn, Lookin At Lucky came bounding toward the leaders while on the far outside. Moving in tandem with 18-1 shot Caracortado, just to his inside, Lookin At Lucky and that rival reached even terms with 23-1 shot First Dude near the quarter-pole. Caracortado, like Super Saver, soon emptied out, but First Dude clung grimly to the lead.
While Lookin At Lucky and First Dude battled stride for stride down the stretch of Old Hilltop, Jackson Bend and Yawanna Twist came flying from the outside to ambush the leaders with a challenge, adding heart-pounding drama to what already was a thrilling stretch duel. Digging in gamely, Lookin At Lucky fended off the oncoming challengers to his outside and put First Dude away to his inside. Extending his hulking stride, Lookin At Lucky pounded over the wire to win by ¾ of a length, stopping the clock in a final time of 1:55.47 for the 1 3/16-mile challenge, with First Dude hanging onto second by a head over Jackson Bend.
“The point was to try and get out of trouble,” the rider said. “He broke really good. Baffert told me to try and save ground in the first turn and then after that do whatever you want.”
Lookin At Lucky’s triumph in the Preakness Stakes served as his trainer’s fifth Preakness win at the time, but his first since 2002 when War Emblem took to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
“I know it’s been a few years,” Baffert said in the wake of Lookin At Lucky’s score. “This is a different kind of win. This was more of a redemption win. This horse is such a warrior. I wanted it for the horse because he tries so hard every time. He had those rough trips, but he came back.”
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After the Preakness Stakes, Lookin At Lucky marched to victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and Grade 2 Indiana Derby, before finishing fourth in his final career start, the Breeders’ Cup Classic. That Classic is best remembered for Blame’s head victory over Zenyatta, spoiling the latter’s chance at a perfect 20-for-20 career.
Lookin At Lucky retired with a record of nine wins from thirteen starts, and career earnings of $3,307,278. During his career, Lookin At Lucky was honored as the Champion Two-Year-Old Colt of 2009 and the Champion Three-Year-Old Colt of 2010.
Today, Lookin At Lucky stands as a stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, KY. To date, the stallion has sired multiple graded stakes winners, including multi-millionaire Accelerate, who was crowned as the Champion Older Dirt Male in 2018, and was a finalist for Horse of the Year that same season.
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