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May 21, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            Another year goes by and the Triple Crown is safe again. The last Triple Crown winner came over 30 years ago back in 1978 when AFFIRMED completed the feat with a game win in the Belmont Stakes over his main rival ALYDAR. The Kentucky Derby winner in 2010, SUPER SAVER took his shot at history as the slight 9-5 favorite in the Preakness Stakes.

            There was a field of 12 that went postward with SUPER SAVER and LOOKIN AT LUCKY vying for favoritism with the former gaining a slight edge at post time. Expected to go right to the lead SUPER SAVER broke well but was looped as they entered the first turn by FIRST DUDE from post 11. Jockey Ramon Dominguez hustled FIRST DUDE to the lead, got to the rail and held that lead down the backside through solid fractions with SUPER SAVER tracking with a length and a half of the leader. JACKSON BEND was right up on the lead while racing in third with California invader CARACORTADO right there in fourth. Much was made about the last few rides LOOKIN AT LUCKY received and because of that there was a change of jockeys from Garret Gomez to Martin Garcia. Garcia, who has been riding a lot for trainer Bob Baffert was given this huge opportunity and he didn’t disappoint. He had LOOKIN AT LUCKY in a perfect spot racing in fifth, outside of trouble and ready to pounce when called upon. As they entered the far turn, SUPER SAVER showed that the rigors of the Derby and getting to the point were getting to him as he started to back up, while CARACORTADO and LOOKIN AT LUCKY moved in tandem to get right up to FIRST DUDE on the lead. CARACORTADO couldn’t sustain his run and began to tire while LOOKIN AT LUCKY continued on battling with FIRST DUDE while JACKSON BEND looked for room in behind the leaders before he swung outside and tried valiantly to catch the leaders. However, LOOKIN AT LUCKY rewarded Baffert with his jockey change as Garcia finished strongly to game out a ¾ length victory over the very game FIRST DUDE with JACKSON BEND coming up a head short for second. YAWANNA TWIST, from the Richard Dutrow Jr. barn made a move to gain contention but flattened out finishing fourth at 16-1.

            Ironically, Garret Gomez who lost the mount on LOOKIN AT LUCKY because of some troubled trips picked up the mount on D. Wayne Lukas trainee DUBLIN. Breaking from the far outside post 12, DUBLIN broke outward for a few strides before Gomez could straighten him out but it put him far behind the leaders and much further then where he wanted to be early on racing in last. He did make a run as they were entering the stretch and ran very well to finish a respectable fifth despite the start losing the whole race by less than six lengths. There was nothing really that Gomez could have done differently but it was just hard luck for a horse that may be getting better with each start. DUBLIN is expected to miss the Belmont Stakes along with the Derby and Preakness winner who are both expected to skip the Belmont and wait for the big three year old races later in the year.

            SUPER SAVER who tired to finish 8th in the race looked like he had lost weight in between the Derby and Preakness so it wasn’t unexpected to see him not put in a big effort in the Preakness. The hard campaign from the beginning of the year until this point is very hard on three year olds especially one that is not very big in stature. However, he does hail from the Todd Pletcher barn and there are plenty of huge races for three year olds this Summer and expect to see him take a shot at those purses.

            The Belmont Stakes the final leg of the Triple Crown will be run on June 5th and should be an interesting race as I’m sure there will be plenty of horses taking their shot at the Test of Champions in the 1 ½ miles event.

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