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Anne M. Eberhardt

First Dude to Haskell; 'Lucky Catching Up

First Dude is pointing for the Haskell, but it will be tight for Lookin At Lucky.

First Dude , second in the Preakness (gr. I) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) is on schedule for the $1 million Izod Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 1, according to trainer Dale Romans, but Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky , while still pointing for the race, is not a definite, said trainer Bob Baffert.

Lookin At Lucky missed about a week’s worth of training after coming down with a fever, and although the son of Smart Strike worked a half in :49 2/5 July 5, Baffert said it’s going to be tight making the Haskell.


"I'll know more after I work him (Saturday)," Baffert said. "But he's doing well."


Baffert also has Concord Point, 8 1/2-length winner of the Iowa Derby (gr. III) June 26. He worked a half in :48 1/5 July 8. Baffert said the plans for Game On Dude, fourth in the Belmont Stakes in his last start, are undecided.


As for First Dude, Romans said, “He’s doing real good and we’re looking pretty strongly at the Haskell. We’re competitive with all these horses and one of these days we’ll get our break.”


First Dude breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Churchill Downs July 3.


Romans’ other top 3-year-old, Paddy O'Prado, winner of the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is heading back to Colonial Downs for the $600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) July 17.


“He’s really come into himself, and if all goes well we’ll possibly look ahead to the Secretariat (gr. IT) and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT),” Romans said.


Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver  is a definite for the Haskell and has been training well for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of  Maria’s Mon breezed a sharp five furlongs in 1:00 flat July 4.


Super Saver is owned by WinStar Farm, whose other top 3-year-old, Drosselmeyer, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is heading for the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga July 31.


Also definite for the Haskell is Uptowncharlybrown , who finished fifth in the Belmont despite his saddle slipping, but was disqualified for returning with the improper weight after losing an eight-pound weighted saddle pad. That case currently is being appealed.


Nick Zito will send at least one horse to the Haskell, having several to choose from, including Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box , Belmont Stakes runner-up Fly Down, recent Monmouth allowance winner Our Dark Knight, and Latigo Shore, who was entered in the July 10 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth and the Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park.


Afleet Express, winner of the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth, will run next in the Jim Dandy.


Other 3-year-olds of note who are eligible to run in the Haskell or Jim Dandy are A Little Warm and Miner's Reserve (also trained by Zito), who finished one-two in a recent Delaware Park allowance race, and Afleet Again and Soaring Empire , who finished two-three behind Afleet Express in the Pegasus.


The Swaps Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park July 17 could attract Golden Itiz, Skipshot , Alphie's Bet, and Summer Movie, the first four finishers of the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III), as well as Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Sidney's Candy. Also nominated is Sidney’s Candy’s stablemate, the undefeated Twirling Candy . Both colts are by Candy Ride , trained by John Sadler, and owned by The Craig Family Trust.