The synthetic era in California has been good to Hall of Fame horseman Bob Baffert, who for the second consecutive year has trained the nation's leading juvenile male using an all-California campaign. Following in the hoofsteps of 2008 champion Midshipman (Unbridled's Song) was Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman's LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike), whose luck was all good save for an excusable setback by a head in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Never one to win by wide margins, Lookin at Lucky nonetheless appeared to have firm grip atop the divisional leader board for much of the season. Ridden by Garrett Gomez in all six starts, the bay was favored each time he set foot on the racetrack, kicking off his career with a maiden win at Hollywood Park in July going six Cushion Track furlongs. Heading south to Del Mar to run over Polytrack, Lookin at Lucky proved best in the Best Pal S. (G2) by three parts of a length going 6 1/2 furlongs, then returned to take the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (G1) by a length. He further cemented his claim for Breeders' Cup Juvenile favoritism by successfully stretching out in the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk S. (G1), scoring by a season-high margin of 1 3/4 lengths.
Vulnerability in the Juvenile set in, however, when post positions were drawn early Breeders' Cup week, with Lookin at Lucky landing the widest post (13) for the 1 1/16-mile heat at Santa Anita. Forced to check slightly entering the first turn, Lookin at Lucky found himself further off the pace than usual in an effort to save ground. Forced to rally five-wide turning for home, Lookin at Lucky wound up brushing with eventual winner Vale of York (Ire) (Invincible Spirit) late and narrowly missed catching the European import who was making his first and only appearance of the season in the United States. The combination of the wide post position and the troubled trip left many observers thinking Lookin at Lucky was best despite the defeat.
Vale of York's upset victory at 30-1 in the Juvenile clouded the race for divisional honors somewhat. Apparently unwilling to offer his colt's candidacy on a losing note, Baffert set Lookin at Lucky's sights on the December 19 CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park. Heavily favored at 1-5, Lookin at Lucky did not disappoint as he steadily inched away from his rivals through the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. He concluded his campaign with a mark of 6-5-1-0, $1,243,000.
Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, Lookin at Lucky was a $475,000 Keeneland April two-year-old-in training purchase. Produced from the winning Private Feeling (Belong to Me), he is a half-brother to the 2009 Jim Dandy S. (G2) and Dwyer S. (G2) winner Kensei (Mr. Greeley), as well as a yearling colt by Afleet Alex. Private Feeling is a half-sister to Grade 3 queen Grand Charmer (Lord Avie), the granddam of 2006 champion three-year-old filly Wait a While (Maria's Mon). Lookin at Lucky's third dam is Grade 1 queen Sharp Belle (Native Charger), and Sir Harry Lewis (Alleged), the 1987 Irish Derby (Ire-G1) winner, also hails from this family.
Baffert has stated that Lookin at Lucky will likely have just two races before the Kentucky Derby (G1), with the March 13 San Felipe S. (G2) at Santa Anita being a probable seasonal debut.
LOOKIN AT LUCKY
Vale of York (Ire)