Bob Baffert said late Sunday morning he is "90 percent sure" that multiple Grade 1 victor LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) will run in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) rather the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 10. The champion colt worked six furlongs on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride in 1:12 under Martin Garcia.
"I was waiting to see how he came out of the work, but right now, I'd say he's 90 percent sure to run here," the Hall of Fame trainer said before departing for Sunland Park, where he saddled another of his Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls, undefeated Conveyance (Indian Charlie), in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3).
"He looked good. I liked what I saw," Baffert said shortly after Lookin at Lucky's drill at 8:10 a.m. (PDT) on a warm, sunny morning at Santa Anita, where seven horses worked for the West Coast's major steppingstone to the Run for the Roses on May 1. The Santa Anita Derby has produced 15 Kentucky Derby winners.
Lookin at Lucky worked in company with the filly Kimmyv (El Corredor), who was ridden by former jockey Joey Steiner and was clocked in 1:13 2/5.
"We went to the 6 1/2 (furlong marker), and I was six, seven, eight (lengths) in front, kind of setting a decent pace," Steiner recounted. "We just let Lookin at Lucky sit back and gallop along. He just picked her up on his own, and (Garcia) asked him to go just a little bit and he went by. It looked like he did it real easy. Martin's worked him the last three times, and he said he's doing super."
Lookin at Lucky's only loss from seven career starts came as a troubled head second in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). He made his three-year-old, and dirt, debut a game head score in the Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 13. Should the bay win the Santa Anita Derby, he would be the first two-year-old champion to win the track's marquee race for three-year-olds since Affirmed in 1978.
If Lookin at Lucky is entered in the Santa Anita Derby, he will be installed as the 4-5 favorite on Jon White's morning line.
"I think Lookin at Lucky most likely will be lower than even-money," White said. "Just take a look at how much respect he got in the betting in the Rebel at Oaklawn. He was even-money on the board for that race despite coming off a layoff and running against the likes of Noble's Promise (Cuvee) and Dublin (Afleet Alex).
"Going into the Rebel, Lookin at Lucky had to ship, he was running on dirt for the first time and he was racing with blinkers for the first time. Yet he was still even-money. And what happened? Lookin at Lucky won the Rebel even though he clipped heels and stumbled on the backstretch. Off that, I would think Lookin at Lucky is going to be an even shorter price in the Santa Anita Derby than he was in the Rebel."
Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) hero CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams) worked six furlongs under regular rider Paul Atkinson at Santa Anita in company. The chestnut colt, who suffered his first career loss when third in the San Felipe S. (G2) on March 13, posted three-quarters in 1:13 2/5 on the Pro-Ride.
"He went five eighths in :59 4/5 and galloped out in 1:13," trainer Mike Machowsky said. "Everything's perfect. He broke off behind a maiden filly of mine that hasn't run yet. I just wanted to give him a target."
John Sadler moved up by one day the scheduled five-furlong work of San Vicente S. (G2) and San Felipe S. (G2) winner SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]), who instead went seven furlongs Sunday in 1:26 1/5 under Rafael Bejarano.
"He went well," Sadler said. "I moved it up one day. I wanted six days into the Derby. Everything's perfect so far."
SKIPSHOT (Skip Away), winner of his last three at Golden Gate Fields for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer, worked five furlongs in a bullet :58 2/5 under exercise rider Marco Ramirez.
"I got him in :58 4/5 and he galloped out real nice," Hollendorfer said. "At least we think he likes the race track after being here for about a week."
The M Racing duo of WHO'S UP (Graeme Hall) and CARDIFF GIANT (Yankee Gentleman) posted moves for trainer Mike Puhich. Alfredo Miranda was aboard Who's Up, who worked five furlongs in :58 4/5, the second fastest move behind Skipshot. The chestnut colt is readying for his first start since taking the November 28 Generous S. (G3) at Hollywood Park. Cardiff Giant -- who was second in the San Rafael S. (G3), third in the Southwest S. (G3) and fifth in the Rebel in his last three -- logged three-quarters in 1:15 under Andy Hernandez.
"We'll see how they are in the morning and go from there," Puhich said.
POSSE POWER (Posse) worked a mile with John Ferzacka in the irons in 1:40 1/5 for trainer Frank Lucarelli.
"He went really good and galloped out strong," Lucarelli said of the bay colt who was third in the El Camino Real Derby (G3).
With Lookin at Lucky in the Santa Anita Derby field, White said he plans to make Sidney's Candy the second favorite at 3-1, followed by Caracortado at 5-1 and ALPHIE'S BET (Tribal Rule) at 8-1, with everyone else in double digits.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Craig Dollase plans to run BOULDER CREEK (Tapit), who was a troubled fifth in the Sham S. (G3) on March 13, in the Santa Anita Derby. Tyler Baze will have the mount.
"The horse is coming into the race the right way," Dollase said. "I'm real happy with his seven-eighths work the other day (1:26 2/5 on Friday). He's sitting on a good race, and you can't win if you're not in."
SETSUKO (Pleasantly Perfect) galloped 1 1/2 miles under Anthony Rose for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who said the Sham runner-up "would work in the next few days, but not tomorrow."
Sham winner Alphie's Bet also galloped 1 1/2 miles, this time at Hollywood Park with Andy Durnin in the saddle for trainer Alexis Barba.
"I'm debating whether to give him a short work or a long gallop before the race," she said. "It will be either one."
Conditioner Doug O'Neill said both stakes-placed THOMAS BAINES (Johannesburg) and maiden STEPHEN'S GOT HOPE (Stephen Got Even) walked Sunday at Hollywood.
"I could send Stephen's Got Hope to the Illinois Derby ([G3] next Saturday at Hawthorne)," he added.
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Alphie's Bet, Alex Solis; Boulder Creek, Tyler Baze; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson; Cardiff Giant, Christian Santiago Reyes; Lookin at Lucky, Garrett Gomez; Posse Power, Leslie Mawing; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Sidney's Candy, Joe Talamo; Stephen's Got Hope, Alonso Quinonez; Skipshot, no rider; Thomas Baines, Joel Rosario; and Who's Up, Victor Espinoza.
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita on Saturday will receive a free, high-quality casual shirt with paid admission, while supplies last. There will also be a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4. First post time is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.