Derby Power 10 Week 7: #1 With a Bullet
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, March 17, 2010--On last week’s NTRA conference call, trainer Bob Baffert said he was looking forward to finding out a lot of things about his juvenile champion 0f 2009.
How would he handle dirt? How will he accept the addition of blinkers, which do not always produce the desired effect? And, finally, what is his level of fitness, exactly; how will he handle the transition from 2 to 3?
Well, let’s put it this way: Lookin At Lucky went into the Rebel Stakes a “mere champion” and emerged an equine star. And don’t allow the winning margin of a nose to deceive: That was one powerhouse performance.
Everything about this should-have-been-unbeaten colt stamps him a professional. The way he finishes a race when Garrett Gomez finally asks him to, the way he stretches out at the finish post when there’s a photo to be won, the way he handles adversity.
It might not have been as dramatic as Zenyatta’s getting bent in half to find running room in the Santa Margarita homestretch, but the incident was potentially as ruinous.
Gomez was looking to surge up between horses approaching the five furlong pole. But when chief rivals Noble’s Promise and Dublin tightened it up from the outside, he was forced to check after clipping heels, or say hello to the ground.
So Gomez had applied the breaks but in a matter of several jumps, Lookin At Lucky was back on stride, keeping the leaders within his sights, eating some dirt for the first time while the rider bided his time.
Entering the Hot Springs straight, Robby Albarado had Noble’s Promise rolling on the inside, Dublin in the middle was struggling a bit to keep pace, either in reaction to his enervating Smarty Jones season’s debut, or the extra sixteenth of a mile, while ‘Lucky’ was put into a strong drive.
Noble’s Promise and Lookin At Lucky hit the finish line in full stride with the champion stretching out to put his nose on the wire first. There was nothing between them, even on the gallop-out. Both figure to advance, as does Dublin, who didn’t have the easiest of trips himself.
Meanwhile, in Northern Florida, observers were still trying to figure out just how Odysseus and Rajiv Maragh did it, requiring a picture to indicate that a half a nose was the difference between a Tampa Bay Derby victory and defeat. That unlucky distinction was the fate of the superbly pointed Schoolyard Dreams.
The Oldsmar, Florida crowd expected that Super Saver would make a winning season’s debut even though there was some concern he might have been too fresh racing over such a demanding surface.
Those fears were realized in the pre-race warm up as Ramon Dominguez tried to settle the colt as he threw his head from side to side. He really was no less settled in the running.
Resultantly, Super Saver does deserve props for withstanding several challenges and hanging in gamely when the real running began. He should benefit from the experience, as should the relatively inexperienced Odysseus.
In Southern California, Sidney’s Candy won the San Felipe in dominating frontrunning style. It’s not often horses lead throughout in a two-turn Pro Ride route but this brilliant runner handled the assignment with complete authority.
The competition in the 1-1/16 miles, which included well regarded American Lion and formerly undefeated Coracortado, were simply no match for the winner. Runnerup Interactif made a good transition from turf to Pro Ride with a strong-rally placing that never put the winner in danger.
As one might expect, there was quite a bit of shuffling among the HRI Derby Power 10, Week 7 edition, notwithstanding Lookin At Lucky, who has held on to his #1 ranking since this exercise began.
But this time, Lookin At Lucky earned that status between the fences, doing little to dissuade those who believed from the jump the was the one they all had to beat on May’s first Saturday.
1-LOOKIN AT LUCKY (36): The Rebel was so important. Not only were so many questions answered but it gives the champ’s connections several options, and plenty of time to decide.
2-ESKENDEREYA (27): Expect another peak effort on Saturday? We’re not sure. He should run hard, with six weeks to recover after that, but his recent works have been on the soft side.
3-RULE (19): He needs his enviable speed and toughness tested by better horses. Has a choice of three remaining Grade 1s, the Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby or Wood Memorial.
4-NOBLE’S PROMISE (18): Somewhat surprisingly razor sharp in his comeback. Continues to show classy tendencies in his tenacious efforts vs ‘Lucky’. Might even beat him one day. Ken McPeek’s horses tend to do better in second and third starts after layoffs.
5-SIDNEY’S CANDY (14): His talent is for real; his speed was never in question. Got away soft in the San Felipe but it takes immense ability to finish like he did over a synthetic surface. Horses have been running well this winter going AW to dirt. Lots of potential speed in this Derby.
6-CONVEYANCE (13): Like we said, lots of potential speed in this Derby and it’s tough to nock the undefeated. Taking Sunland Park path of least resistance next, so questions likely to remain.
7-ODYSSEUS (11): He had better grow up quickly as greenness is not tolerated in Louisville. Unquestionably has enough talent, but announced lack of another prep is bothersome.
8-DISCREETLY MINE (10): Did we mention there’s lots of speed in this Derby? But of all the speed types, he appears most amenable to rating. For his sake, hope that’s true. Louisiana Derby will answer many questions, one way or another.
9-AWESOME ACT (8): The HRI staff, impressed with his turn of foot, deserves a chance to crack the Power 10 as others have disappointed. Potential “Euro bounce” in Wood Memorial could help a month later. Really anxious to see him again in New York to get a better line.
10-INTERACTIF (7): Finished very boldly off soft San Felipe pace, dispelling the notion he’s definitely more effective on grass. The fact that he’s run on dirt augurs well, giving his connections a slew of options for his final prep.
Written by John Pricci - Comments (1)