Lookin At Lucky wins Oaklawn’s Rebel by a head

Bob Baffert took it easy on Lookin At Lucky while preparing for

Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. That strategy nearly cost

him a victory but he was content with how the top 3-year-old on the

road to the Kentucky Derby fared in the 1 1-16 mile race.

“He passed all the tests,” Baffert said after Lookin At Lucky

recovered from a hard bump in the backstretch and won by a head

over Noble’s Promise. “I wanted to prep him for the next one. I

didn’t want to run him off the screen today. Even if he had run

second it would have been OK.”

In his first race since December, Lookin At Lucky was four wide

in the turn for home and outran Noble’s Promise. Dublin finished

third, three lengths back. In the backstretch, Lookin At Lucky and

Noble’s Promise bumped, but both had cleared most of the field by

the top of the stretch.

“I didn’t know how a young horse would react to that, but mine

dug back like a real professional,” jockey Garrett Gomez said.

“Coming to the wire, I thought we’d get the other horse, even

though mine was tiring. This race will really help my colt.”

Watching a replay of the stretch run, Baffert laughed as his

horse dug in beneath Gomez.

“Right here he is saying `Dammit, Bob, I wish you would have

trained me harder for this,”’ Baffert said.

Lookin At Lucky paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.20. Noble’s Promise

paid $4.00 and $2.60 and Dublin paid $2.40.

Baffert said Lookin At Lucky would likely next race in the Wood

Memorial at Aqueduct or the Arkansas Derby on April 10.

“That last prep is the main thing … but you’re not safe until

you put that saddle on and hear `My Old Kentucky Home,”’ he

said.

At Santa Anita on Saturday, Caracortado lost for the first time

– falling to Sidney’s Candy and Interactif in the $150,000 San

Felipe Stakes. Also, Odysseus beat Schoolyard Dreams by a nose in

the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby. Super Saver, the race favorite, was

third.

Lookin At Lucky had been racing on synthetic surfaces in

California but at Oaklawn ran on dirt – which Baffert said gave him

a better sense of how well his horse is doing.

“This is as close as you can get to Churchill Downs. It’s nice

to run on dirt. Then you know what you have,” Baffert said.

And the race gave him a sense of Churchill, too, he said.

“He almost had a Kentucky Derby-type experience getting bounced

around,” Baffert said. “I wanted him to do what he did today.

Except for him almost falling down, he did well. It’s not me. It’s

the horse. It’s like a coach with a great player.”

The noted trainer, inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame last

year after training three Kentucky Derby winners and winning three

Eclipse Awards, joked after the race that, until this year, he

hadn’t had horses good enough to bring to Oaklawn Park and said

with a grin, “I got too big.”

He said he was last here with Miss Gibson County in 1994 and

flew in for Saturday’s race with the horse’s owners. In 1998, as

the 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm was healing from a

bruise, Baffert said he considered bringing the horse to Oaklawn

but instead sent him to Dubai. “It’s easier to get to Dubai.”

Baffert also trained Conveyance, which won Oaklawn’s Southwest

Stakes for 3-year-olds in February.

Dublin, the son of Afleet Alex and which finished third in both

the Southwest and Saturday’s Rebel, ran wide in the first turn,

struggled to within a length of the lead and then faded.

“My colt got tired, but we will fight again another day, like

the first Saturday in May,” jockey Corey Nakatani said.

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