Baffert Confident in 'Lucky's New Rider
Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman’s Lookin At Lucky , a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), galloped at Churchill Downs May 11, the eve of the colt’s departure for Baltimore to run in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Bob Baffert said all was well with the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike , who will bid to provide the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer with his fifth victory in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Baffert confirmed 25-year-old Martin Garcia will ride Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness. It will be the first Preakness ride for Garcia, who will replace Garrett Gomez in the saddle after Lookin At Lucky endured troubled journeys in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), where he finished third, and the “Run for the Roses.”
The trainer consulted with several more experienced riders who were available to ride in the Preakness, but decided to go with Garcia.
“The thing with Martin is that he’s been on him—he’s worked him a lot,” Baffert said. “And he wins for me.”
Baffert has said that his decision to replace Gomez is not a reflection on the rider’s talent, but an effort to reverse the recent run of bad luck for the horse. And it also speaks volumes about Garcia’s ability.
“He’s still young,” Baffert said. “He’s not a completely polished rider like a Gomez or (John) Velazquez, but he’s getting there. He’s got a ways to go. He’s a raw talent and he’s riding with a lot of confidence right now. I’ve been clicking with him really well lately. Everywhere I send him, he wins. He’s not intimidated. He rode in the Derby and he was a little bit nervous, but he did as good as he could under the circumstances.
“He just has that raw talent and he rides in California and he fits in there. I think the jockey colony is very strong in California, and he seems to be fitting in well. I think he’s got a huge future in this business. I’ve been using him. He works a lot of my horses. He’s worked Lookin At Lucky a lot. He knows the horse really well.
“If he was a basketball player, he would have gone to the NBA right out of high school. He’s got that kind of raw talent.”
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