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May 21, 2010

No Luck Needed for Lookin At Lucky

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2010 Preakness was extremely reminiscent to the 1997 edition when three horses, including Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, finished a quarter-of-a-length apart. In fact, Touch Gold was only 1 1/2-lengths behind in fourth after stumbling at the start.

This Saturday's race saw four horses within one length of each other with less than a sixteenth of a mile to run. Lookin At Lucky, the 2-1 second choice, battled with three double-digit longshots - First Dude, Jackson Bend and Yawanna Twist.

Lookin At Lucky, who led for most of the stretch run, finally prevailed by three-quarters of a length over First Dude handing those that bet the 7-11 exacta a $188.60 reward for every $2 wagered.

Jackson Bend finished a head back in third and a full length in front of Yawanna Twist, who rounded out a $2 superfecta worth $34,252.

There were many exceptional performances in the race, but the one major disappointment came from the Kentucky Derby winner.

Super Saver finished a lackluster eighth (beaten almost a dozen lengths) just two weeks after his triumphant victory in the Derby. Before the Preakness, his trainer Todd Pletcher was extremely worried about the quick two-week turnaround and he was dead on as Super Saver looked like a badly conditioned three-year-old.

The son of Maria's Mon faltered badly after chasing front-runner First Dude for the first six furlongs. One can argue that jockey Calvin Borel placed him too close to the quick pace. but that claim holds zero water as the front running First Dude wound up running second, beaten less than a length.

Despite the failure of the Derby winner, the main storyline of the Preakness was Lookin At Lucky and his rider, Martin Garcia.

The 25-year-old jockey, who replaced future hall-of-famer Garrett Gomez, rode a flawless race keeping Lookin At Lucky on the outside, free from trouble, for the entire run down the backstretch. It was the antithesis of the colt's three previous races under Gomez.

Lookin At Lucky and Garcia then took the lead at the head of the stretch and held off all challengers to win by three-quarters of a length and give trainer Bob Baffert his fifth Preakness victory.


Unfortunately, those expecting Lookin At Lucky to move forward to the Belmont Stakes will be sadly disappointed. Baffert stated early Sunday morning that the Preakness winner will head back home to California and not attempt to win the final leg of the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby champion Super Saver will also not race in the Belmont leaving the race without the Derby and Preakness winners for the first time since 2006.

That means Derby runner-up Ice Box will be the early favorite in the Test of Champions. His trainer Nick Zito will also have the probable second choice in Fly Down, the recent winner of the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. Furthermore, there's a chance Zito could send Jackson Bend as well since the gritty colt ran huge at Pimlico.

The 12th-place Derby finisher rebounded with a bang-up third in the Preakness, failing to nail down the second spot by a diminishing head. It might be asking lot for him to go the 12 furlongs of the Belmont after a grueling spring campaign but there won't be much speed in the race and his presence could help Zito's two closers even more.

Speaking of the expected lack of pace in the Belmont, First Dude has a great chance of going gate-to-wire, especially if Jackson Bend stays in his barn on the first Saturday in June.

First Dude ran his heart out in the Preakness, battling back on the inside to finish second after setting a quick pace on the front end. Trainer Dale Romans had the son of Stephen Got Even in great shape all week long and was extremely confident in the colt's chances despite the high odds.

Yawanna Twist will not be moving forward to the Belmont Stakes, but the Rick Dutrow-trained three-year-old almost pulled off the upset with a bold rally through the stretch. In the end, he failed to pick up any ground inside the final 10 jumps, settling for fourth-place money.

The only other Preakness runner that might go in the Belmont Stakes is Dublin.

Ridden for the first time by Garrett Gomez, the son of 2005 Belmont winner Afleet Alex, got off to a miserable beginning breaking from post 12.

In last place for most of the race, Dublin closed well to finish fifth, beaten only six lengths. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has a history of racing his three- year-olds through tough campaigns so it wouldn't come as a shock to see Dublin in the Belmont Stakes.

Other possible starters include stout closers such as Setsuko, Stay Put, Stately Victor and Make Music for Me, as well as a pair of stalkers in Uptowncharlybrown, Game On Dude and Drosselmeyer.

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