Lookin At Lucky , winner of the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II), will have to overcome the rail draw when he puts his unbeaten record on the line against eight juvenile rivals in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 7.
The seven-furlong Polytrack event headlines the Labor Day program at the oceanside track. The Futurity was moved this year from its traditional closing day spot on the Del Mar calendar.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden in both of his prior starts by Garrett Gomez, Lookin at Lucky has not proven to be ultra-quick out of the gate. That could present a problem for the son of Smart Strike against a field that appears to have sufficient speed. Assuming, though, that Gomez can avoid being pinned down at the rail behind a wall of horses, what Lookin At Lucky does possess is a great middle move.
He used that tactical advantage in the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal, enabling him to quickly close the gap on the flashy front-runner Smiling Tiger rounding the bend. Lookin at Lucky got the lead in the stretch and held sway for a three-quarters of a length win over Make Music for Me, who rallied to gain the runner-up spot over Smiling Tiger.
Both Make Music for Me and Smiling Tiger, as well as Hurricane Ike, the fourth-place finisher in the Best Pal, return in the Futurity.
Lookin at Lucky, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, broke his maiden at first asking going six furlongs on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track July 11. The bay colt was purchased at the Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training in April for $475,000. He has worked well on the Polytrack since the Best Pal, including a bullet 1:11 1/5 move for six furlongs Sept. 5 at Del Mar.
Baffert also entered the maiden winner Marcello, who tallied locally by a nose for Peachtree Stable as the 1-2 favorite in a 6 1/2-furlong heat Aug. 15.
Smiling Tiger figures to be tighter for the Futurity than he was for the Best Pal, when he was coming off a two-month break and was a little too fresh for Russell Baze. The Hold That Tiger colt dominated his Northern California rivals in two prior starts for trainer Jeff Bonde, winning the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in June by eight lengths. Martin Garcia takes over for Baze.
The maiden Make Music for Me, a son of Bernstein to be ridden again by Tyler Baze for trainer Alexis Barba, made huge improvement as a 15-1 outsider in the Best Pal. Fifth on the turn, he rallied three wide to finish a clear second.
Hurricane Ike, trained by meet-leading John Sadler, broke his maiden at first asking at Hollywood July 5, but lacked a closing kick in the Best Pal.
Also in the Futurity field is a filly coming off a maiden win, Champagne d'Oro from the barn of Eric Guillot. She was supplemented at a cost of $10,000 for owner Southern Equine Stable. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro , who broke her maiden Aug. 5 at Del Mar, has been entered in the Sept. 5 Darley Debutante (gr. I) as well.
Zip Quik, a son of City Zip, returns to California for Patrick Biancone after making a quick trip to upstate New York, where he ran a distant second to D' Funnybone in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) Aug. 20. The New York-bred colt previously ran second in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III).
The speedy Sterling Outlook, a 4 1/2-length front-running maiden winner for Peter Miller in his most recent outing at Del Mar, and Who's Up, second in his debut to the impressive Sidney's Candy in a maiden race Aug. 22 for Kathy Walsh, round out a promising Futurity field.
$300,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Lookin At Lucky (KY), G K Gomez, 122, B Baffert
2. Zip Quik (NY), D R Flores, 118, P L Biancone
3. Champagne d'Oro (KY), M C Baze, 115, E J Guillot
4. Smiling Tiger (KY), M Garcia, 120, J Bonde
5. Make Music for Me (KY), T Baze, 116, A Barba
6. Who's Up (FL), V Espinoza, 122, K Walsh
7. Sterling Outlook (KY), R Bejarano, 118, P Miller
8. Marcello (KY), J Rosario, 118, B Baffert
9. Hurricane Ike (FL), J Talamo, 118, J W Sadler