Undefeated Lookin At Lucky handled his first try at two turns successfully in the $300,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) Oct. 4, allowing trainer Bob Baffert to look forward to the Nov. 7 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert won the Norfolk for the fifth time and looks well-suited once again for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Lookin at Lucky, who has won four races in a row.
Jockey Garrett Gomez had plenty to do to keep the gawking son of Smart Strike interested after they reached mid-stretch with a comfortable lead, but they got to the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of Pulsion and Gallant Gent, who led a blanket finish for second behind the odds-on favorite. The winning time for the 1 1/16-mile test for 2-year-olds was 1:43.11 on the Pro-Ride surface.
“He’s the best 2-year-old I’ve had in the last five years, I know that. I can’t remember more than five years," Baffert said jokingly. "He’s sort of a different horse than I’ve ever had, a lot different."
Lookin at Lucky showed plenty in his first route effort, avoiding traffic while rating in fourth, winding up four-wide on the final turn. From the quarter pole to the top of the stretch, Lookin at Lucky made up several lengths to get the lead impressively while giving away ground.
Gallant Gent, ridden by Martin Pedroza, stalked the pacesetter Sterling Outlook through sharp fractions of :23, :47.54, and 1:11.56, and clung tenaciously along the inside as they reached mid-stretch. That's when Gomez went to work on Lookin at Lucky, who was drifting inward in deep stretch and appeared to be weakening. The winner responded to Gomez's left-handed urging, however, and won as much the best, leading one to believe he has much more to offer.
"He made the lead turning for home and when he did, he threw his ears up and kind of waited on that horse inside of him (Gallant Gent)," Gomez said. "When I got after him though, he went on with it and finished up real game. How good is he? Well, he’s four-for-four and I guess he’ll tell us how good he is.”
The rallying Pulsion, with Mike Smith aboard, edged Gallant Gent by a half-length for second, with Jung Man Scott and John Scott finishing a nose behind the show horse in a dead-heat for fourth. Then came second choice Dave in Dixie, Alfarabi, Came Aboard, Seattle Ruler, Lucky Rave, and Sterling Outlook.
Smith was excited about Pulsion, who rallied from sixth in the stretch and had to overcome post 12. "This colt has a lot to learn, but he’s learning. He gets to where he starts and stops a few times too many, but he’s learning. I think he’ll be more honest next time.
"We’ll hone down on him a little more, tighten the screws a little more, and I think he’ll be right there. I think the best 2-year-old in the country won the race, and we weren’t far off of him. So if he can improve, who knows?”
Lookin at Lucky was coming off a one-length win in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 7 and took Del Mar's Best Pal (gr. II) prior to that. His debut maiden victory came at Hollywood Park July 11. He has been heavily favored in all of his starts.
Today the three-eighths pole, I couldn’t tell if he was running or not. (Gomez) was just sitting there on him and all of a sudden he pushed the button and he took off," Baffert noted. "He’s a pretty exciting horse. I’m becoming a big fan of his now, watching him run. He’s got power steering. He’s not one dimensional, which is so great because you don’t have to worry about track condition or speed.
"He has got something different than my other ones have ever had, so it’s pretty exciting.”
The victory, worth $180,000 to owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, boosted Lookin at Lucky's bankroll to $483,000. The bay colt out of Private Feeling, by Belong to Me, sold for $475,000 at Keeneland in April. Gulf Coast Farms bred Lookin at Lucky in Kentucky.
Lookin at Lucky paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.40.
Pulsion, from the Patrick Biancone stable, is certainly headed in the right direction after posting his maiden victory in third start Sept. 5 at Del Mar. The Include colt returned $6.80 and $4 and completed a $44.80 exacta. Gallant Gent, a stakes winner at Fairplex in his last start for trainer Craig Lewis, paid $8.40 to show.
Hurricane Ike scratched.