Unbeaten Lookin At Lucky seeks his fourth consecutive win for trainer Bob Baffert and a spot in the starting gate for next month's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) when he faces 11 juvenile rivals in the $300,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meet Oct. 4.
Purchased in April by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman for $475,000, Lookin At Lucky will be a solid favorite in the 1 1/16-mile event, which guarantees the winner an opportunity to run in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge series. The son of Smart Strike, coming off victories in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and Best Pal (gr. II) this summer, is the only graded stakes winner in the field.
Lookin At Lucky, who was the even-money favorite in the seven-furlong Futurity, rallied from seventh early to score by one length in a determined effort. He will be stretching out to a route for the first time in the Norfolk, a race Baffert has won four times in the past 12 runnings.
Baffert's most recent Norfolk triumph came in 2004 with Roman Ruler. The Hall of Fame conditioner was second in the race last year with Midshipman , who went on to take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding male 2-year-old.
Baffert is cautiously optimistic about the chances of Lookin At Lucky going a distance for the first time.
“I think he’s going to be OK,” Baffert said. “He’s going two turns for the first time, so we’ll find out. You never know until they go two turns.”
Lookin At Lucky, out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, drew post 2 and will have Garrett Gomez in the irons once again.
Also coming out of the Del Mar Futurity are Jay Em Ess Stable's Sterling Outlook, who weakened a bit to fourth after dueling for the lead, and fifth-place Hurricane Ike, who rallied but could not overcome an extremely wide trip. The latter is trained by John Sadler and owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, who also entered Dave in Dixie, an impressive 3 1/4-length maiden sprint winner in his first trip to the post Aug. 29 at Del Mar.
Only three entrants in the Norfolk have raced around two turns previously. Jung Man Scott, a New York bred trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., ran second to Interactif in Saratoga’s With Anticipation Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 1 1/16 miles on turf in his last start on Sept. 4. Rafael Bejarano has taken the riding call on the Winter Park Partners colt who broke his maiden by 8 1/4 lengths while sprinting over the grass at Saratoga.
Pulsion, a son of Include who will be ridden by Mike Smith for trainer Patrick Biancone, broke his maiden at one mile at Del Mar on Sept. 5. Alfarabi did likewise in a turf event at Del Mar on Aug. 28 for trainer Eoin Harty. Alex Solis rides theYes It's True roan.
Lookin At Lucky will encounter another unbeaten juvenile in John Scott, trained by Carla Gaines for Scott Gross and Harris Farms. The California-bred son of Bertrando is 2-for-2 with a victory in the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes over state breds at six furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 7. Victor Espinoza has the return riding engagement.
Seattle Ruler comes right back after recording a three-length win in the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Sept. 20 for trainer Mike Harrington.
The British-bred Lucky Rave makes his American debut for trainer Peter Eurton after posting back-to-back wins over Polytrack surfaces in England this summer.
Gallant Gent, coming off a win in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex for Craig Lewis, and the maiden Came Aboard complete the field.
$300,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Sterling Outlook (KY), T Baze, P Miller
2. Lookin At Lucky (KY), G K Gomez, B Baffert
3. Alfarabi (KY), A O Solis, E G Harty
4. Lucky Rave (GB), C S Nakatani, P Eurton
5. Gallant Gent (KY), M A Pedroza, C A Lewis
6. Hurricane Ike (FL), J Talamo, J W Sadler
7. Came Aboard (KY), A T Gryder, J P Gonzalez
8. Seattle Ruler (KY), M Garcia, M Harrington
9. Jung Man Scott (NY), R Bejarano, R E Dutrow, Jr.
10. Dave in Dixie (KY), J Rosario, J W Sadler
11. John Scott (CA), V Espinoza, C Gaines
12. Pulsion (FL), M E Smith, P L Biancone
All carry 122 pounds.