LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike), last year's juvenile colt champion, couldn't have gotten much more out of his neck victory in Saturday's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park. In one fell swoop the Bob Baffert trainee proved he could handle dirt, overcame adversity both at the start and on the backside, and suggested the addition of blinkers on the advice of jockey Garrett Gomez was a beneficial move.
Bothered slightly at the start, Lookin at Lucky was taken back into fifth entering the clubhouse turn as Royal Express made the lead while tracked by Uh Oh Bango (Top Hit) and, later, Noble's Promise (Cuvee). Royal Express (Royal Academy) led through splits of :23 3/5, :47 3/5 and 1:12 2/5, but most of the excitement prior to the stretch run occurred behind the leaders down the backside as 7-5 second choice Dublin (Afleet) made a bold four-wide move into contention, this after racing five wide into the first turn, and appeared to box in Lookin at Lucky in the process and forcing that rival to jump briefly. However, the video showed that Lookin at Lucky had come in close contact with the heels of Noble's Promise, the reason why the champion had to take up slightly.
After a quick recovery, Lookin at Lucky took up the chase behind Noble's Promise and Dublin, who raced in tandem on the turn for home and dispensed with the early leaders. Noble's Promise proved to have the most gas left of the two and built up a lead over Dublin, who began to tire after his wide journey. Lookin at Lucky was full of run, however, and steadily wore down Noble's Promise to garner the win in a time of 1:43 for 1 1/16 miles over the fast track.
Lookin at Lucky returned $4.20, $2.80 and $2.20. Noble's Promise, the 5-1 third choice, returned $4 and $2.60 after finishing three lengths clear of Dublin, who paid $2.40. The exacta returned $14.60, the trifecta $27.40, and the 2-6-7-4 superfecta with the 9-1 Uh Oh Bango was worth $69.60. Next under the wire were Cardiff Giant (Yankee Gentleman), Pleasant Storm (Pleasant Tap) and Royal Express.
Now 7-6-1-0 overall with $1,423,000 in earnings, Lookin at Lucky scored at first asking, taking amaiden at Hollywood by three-quarters of a length while going six furlongs, and made a smooth transition to stakes competition when garnering the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal S. (G2) at Del Mar by the same margin in his next start. He followed it with an authoritative one-length score in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity, and prepped for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) with an easy 1 3/4-length victory in the October 4 Norfolk S. (G1) at Santa Anita, his first start around two turns.
Post position 13 proved to be a major detriment in the Juvenile, as Lookin at Lucky was carried extremely wide on both turns, and the 2-1 favorite was bumped repeatedly before launching a gallant rally in the stretch that came up a head short. He concluded his Eclipse Award-winning campaign with a win in the CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park, the second of his now three defeats of Noble's Promise, who had also finished behind Lookin at Lucky in the Breeders' Cup.
Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, Lookin at Lucky was a $475,000 Keeneland April two-year-old-in training purchase and is owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. Produced from the winning Private Feeling (Belong to Me), the juvenile is a half-brother to the 2009 Jim Dandy S. (G2) and Dwyer S. (G2) winner Kensei (Mr. Greeley), as well as a juvenile colt by Afleet Alex and a 2010 colt by Mr. Greeley. 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.