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Aug 06, 2010

Three-year-old picture comes into focus

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Following a Triple Crown season in which three different colts crossed the finish lines first, the 2010 class of three- year-olds is now better understood than before Saturday.

This past weekend, two important stakes races for three-year-olds took place and questions were answered.

Saturday's $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga was won by A Little Warm, putting him into the Travers on Saturday, August 28.

"He didn't have to win to get to the Travers," trainer Tony Dutrow said, "but he had to run fantastic, which he did. We were not surprised with what we saw."

A Little Warm, ridden by John Velazquez, made a big step forward with the Jim Dandy victory.

"You can place him wherever you want and let the speed go," said Velazquez. "When you ask him, he's there for you. That's what I like about him. I don't think he'll have a problem with the [1 1/4-miles] if he races like he did today (Saturday)."

Dutrow also trains Winslow Homer who won the Curlin Stakes for three-year-olds at Saratoga on Sunday. Owned by Fox Hill Farm, Winslow Homer is also a possible Travers starter.

Race favorite, Fly Down, took a step back with a fifth-place finish in the Jim Dandy. The Belmont Stakes runner-up was beaten by stablemate Miner's Reserve, who was second.

"Fly Down just didn't fire," said Nick Zito who trains both Fly Down and Miner's Reserve. "Hopefully he comes back well and we'll try to regroup for the next race. I'm happy for Miner's Reserve and sad for Fly Down. We'll just regroup and hopefully come back in the Travers."

The big winner of the weekend came in Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational when Preakness champ Lookin At Lucky ran away down the stretch to come home first by four-lengths. The colt is trying to become that rare horse who follows a championship two-year-old year with a similar three-year-old campaign.

"I've been working this horse for a long time now," jockey Martin Garcia said. "[Trainer] Bob [Baffert] told me, 'You know you're on the best horse. Just give him a breather and then send him.'

Garcia was on Lookin At Lucky for just the second race. The jockey replaced Garrett Gomez for the Preakness after the colt finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby as the 6-1 favorite.

It was a most impressive victory for Lookin At Lucky against a highly competitive field. Among the other six starters were Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver along with Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Preakness runner-up First Dude was there as well as local winner Trappe Shot.

"He ran well - very well," noted trainer Kiaran McLaughlin about Trappe Shot, who finished second. "We were second to a top horse. We're disappointed because we think an awful lot of this horse. But this race is the best of the best, and right now we're in second-place."

I don't know if Trappe Shot is the second-best three-year-old in training, but Lookin At Lucky is clearly the top candidate for the end of year Eclipse Award. Sunday's win put the colt into third-place in the latest NTRA National Poll behind Zenyatta and Quality Road.

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