Following the defection of Eskendereya from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has installed Lookin At Lucky as the new morning-line favorite for the May 1 race.
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman Lookin At Lucky is trained by three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert. Last year's 2-year-old champion male, Lookin At Lucky had a troubled trip to finish third in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) to Sidney's Candy , who is now the second choice according to Battaglia.
Battaglia had said Eskendereya would have been a heavy favorite--perhaps as low as 9-5 in an anticipated 20-horse field for the Derby. Although Lookin At Lucky will now be favored, Battaglia said his probable odds will not be that low.
"I’m thinking he’ll be right around 3-1 – not as solid as Eskendereya would have been, but still pretty solid," Battaglia said in a statement from Churchill Downs. "Then I’ll probably have Sidney's Candy at right around 6-1 or 8-1, and then Awesome Act at right around the same odds."
Owned by Mrs. Susan Roy and Vinery, British-based Awesome Act won the Gotham (gr. III) in his debut on dirt at Aqueduct prior to a troubled third-place fun behind Eskendereya in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) for trainer Jeremy Noseda.
Battaglia, who has established the morning line odds for every Kentucky Derby since 1975, believes the combination of accomplishments of Lookin At Lucky, Baffert’s success as a Derby-winning trainer, and the presence of Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez will make the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike the clear favorite.
Battaglia said the Derby odds picture is wide open when he looks at horses below the top three – although he believes there could be strong public support Devil May Care should the filly run in the Derby rather than the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Churchill’s oddsmaker will issue his official morning line following this year’s Kentucky Derby post draw, which has reverted to its traditional "blind draw" format and will be conducted at noon (EDT) on Wednesday, April 28, at Churchill Downs.