Bob Baffert is excited about running his Preakness (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky in the $1 million IZOD Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 1, and when Baffert is excited, you can bet he’s coming heavily armed.
Baffert never has any concerns about Lookin At Lucky’s talent and desire, but judging from the number of disastrous trips the son of Smart Strike has had in major stakes, luck is always first and foremost on Baffert’s mind.
“He’s such a gritty little horse and tries so hard,” Baffert said. “He’s always shown me signs of greatness, but he’s had such bad luck in so many major races his name has really come back to plague him. But he looks fantastic now and is really in the zone. He had missed one week with a slight fever and has been on a tight schedule, but he looks like he’s caught up and is doing real good right now. He’s happy, he worked really well yesterday and came out of it great.”
Baffert, who has won the Haskell three times, realizes he’s up against a deep, talented field that the includes the one-two finishers of both the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness, but he is looking forward to seeing Lookin At Lucky assert himself in the 3-year-old division.
“It’s a great group of horses,” Baffert said. “Anytime you get the
“I’ve always done well there; Monmouth is one of my favorite tracks. The fans really get into it. All I know is he looks great and I’m really looking forward to it. He’ll ship in Thursday.”
As for the Travers on Aug. 28, Baffert said he’s not making any plans beyond the Haskell.
“I just want to take it one race at a time, so I’m not sure about the Travers,” Baffert said. “Right now we’re planning on it, but the goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), and I want to see how he runs here and how he comes out of it.
“The plan was to freshen him up after the Preakness. It was tempting to run in the
Lookin At Lucky’s main foe will be Derby winner Super Saver, who ran poorly in the Preakness and hasn’t been seen since. Trainer Todd Pletcher has freshened him up and feels he has him ready for a big return effort.
WinStar racing manager Elliott Walden said the son of Maria's Mon is training as good as ever.
“Todd has given him time off and his works have been great, and his fitness level is excellent, so we're looking for a big effort,” Walden said. “His weight is good, his energy level is good, and his works have been better than they were this spring. Todd said his work two back was the best he’s ever seen him work.
“We’ve won this race twice (with Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday), and we want to race against the best. This stacks up as a high quality field so we're going for the brass ring. It’s the kind of race Monmouth envisioned when they put on the Haskell and this is a great renewal. When Baffert has a 3-year-old he likes a lot, you know he’s showing up at the Haskell. He loves this race. It should be a great race to watch and I hope fans across the country are clued in.
Walden realizes this is the beginning of the second season when championships are decided.
“This time of year is almost like a new season for the 3-year-olds,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in what happens on Sunday and we’re here to see how good he can be against this 3-year-old crop. We’re in position to be 3-year-old champion and that’s one of the reasons why we want to settle it on the racetrack.”
In addition to Lookin At Lucky and Super Saver, the Haskell is expected to draw