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Thursday, April 22, 2010


Mike Welsch was pretty impressed over the workout by Lookin At Lucky on Wednesday. "A very good work; maybe not the blowaway Street Sense or Barbaro, but just what you'd like to see," he explained on his video report. The Daily Racing Form's clocker guy was particularly taken with a 11.63 split from the three-eighths to the quarter pole while breezing about four or five paths out from the rail. [DRF]

Strictly on class, Baffert's colt is the clear favorite here. He's won five graded stakes (three Grade 1's and two Grade 2's), and was clearly best when narrowly beaten in the Juvenile (some six lengths in front of Eskendereya). He also has the perfect running style for the Derby - won't be battling for the lead, but enough tactical speed to keep well in range and, perhaps, out of traffic. And, as we know, his trainer holds a distinct class edge himself over the least when it comes to this particular race.

So what's the deal here? Oh yeah, Pletcher's colt has those Beyer numbers on the page, y'know the ones from the perfect trips he had against middling competition at Gulfstream and Aqueduct.

OK, I acknowledge that he's dominated with the kind of ease which has some thinking greatness here. And he did easily overcome the only (slight) adversity he faced in those two races, quickly compensating for a slightly slow start from an unfavorable post in Florida. The thought does admittedly occur to me that, with a clean trip, he gallops off from the field the way he has before at a distance at which he figures to flourish on paper. Nonetheless, there's certainly no guarantee of an uneventful journey - in fact, the odds are against it - and I'm unwavering in my belief that this is a routine bet against a favorite who is likely to face hurdles and challenges that he hasn't yet before.

Looking At Lucky is a son of the great stallion Smart Strike; and I made some good money on his half-brother Kensei in the Dwyer and Jim Dandy last year. His dam, by Belong to Me, is a half-sister to the stakes winning Grand Charmer, who is a granddam of Pletcher's champion multiple graded stakes winner Wait A While. (The second dam of Lookin At Lucky is the third dam of Wait A While.)

- Noble's Promise worked on Tuesday, and despite the fact that it's hard to envision a son of Cuvee out of a Clever Trick mare winning the Kentucky Derby, I remain intrigued by this one after his excuse-filled fifth in the Arkansas Derby. I mentioned the distance influences in his pedigree in this post; and that final prep was a complete and total throwout in my opinion. He was basically done after a bad start which took him way out of his game, dead last passing the stands for the first time; and then steadied sharply trying to move up along the rail around the first turn. He also suffered those minor injuries, as well as a lung infection which trainer Ken McPeek attributed to allergies (and I know how he feels). So it was actually pretty impressive in my view that Noble's Promise actually got himself into purse contention by the time they entered the stretch.

McPeek now says the horse is 60/40 for the race after his bullet five furlongs in 59.84 seconds.

"That was a fantastic work he put in. That's a Grade I filly [Beautician] he was working against, and he whipped her," McPeek said. "He's just so talented, but we're still not fully committed to the race.

"We've still got another hoop or two to jump through. He needs to eat well tonight. He's been pounding the feed tub up till now. The hope is that he doesn't regress off the work he put in, but the way he worked we think he's moving forward." []
Welsch noted that the horse got tired late, finishing up in nearly 13 seconds; but that was after fractions of 11.72, 23:44, and 34.76 seconds for the opening three-eighths. And he noted that jockey Willie Martinez was sitting "pretty chilly" as he pulled away from his stablemate. So I still have an eye on this guy as a candidate to enhance the exotics.

- A note and a reference to the title of this post: I personally don't have much of a case of Derby Fever here as you've probably noticed from the infrequent posting on the subject. I suppose I could go off on the way the game has changed, with the horses starting less often and therefore not developing the kind of depth of form, character and rivalries of years past. Amazing how, just in the five + years I've been doing this blog, those "rules" we used to depend on have become virtually obsolete. There's no hand-wringing over the four or five weeks that will have passed since the last prep for many of the horses, including the favorite, before they get to the Derby gate; nor the mere two preps that Lookin At Lucky has had this year. It's the new way, and I don't particularly care for it.

But it's really just me. I've never really gotten back into the swing of things after what was a rough time for me personally around the holidays and into the new year. And racing was never a 12 month a year endeavor for me until I started this site, and I'm long overdue for a significant break. So, when I do have the chance to post (and I'm on the road for a couple of days with my daughter as she decides among the ten colleges she got accepted to....way to go, K!), I'll muddle through the Derby and the Triple Crown the best I can, but will be focused mostly on the off-track nonsense for the foreseeable future, with my usual forays off-topic especially with the NY gubernatorial and legislative elections coming up this fall. For your intensive wall-to-wall, minute-by-minute racing news and coverage, please check out the excellent Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance site at, where you can find the enthusiastic bloggers of the TBA. Even Handride is back (a little) for the occasion, misguided as he is thinking that Eskendereya is going to win.

- This is a way cool new video by The xx.


El Angelo said...

One of the best ways to inject some value into Derby triples and supers (if they're your cup of tea) is to find horses that were once well-regarded or hyped, ran poorly in their last start with something of an excuse, and are now back at a price. A few examples: Invisible Ink ('01, 2nd at 55-1); Atswhatimtalkinabout ('03, 4th at ~25-1); Bluegrass Cat ('06, 2nd at ~30-1); Denis of Cork ('08, 3rd at ~25-1). Noble's Promise fits this to a tee.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Atswhatimtalkinbout was pounded down to single digit odds. If you want to bet on a horse with 2yo sprint breeding coming off a lung infection, be my guest. Noble's Promise is the easist toss in the entire race. Alan, thanks for the explanation on your lack of derby fever. Wish I was so levelheaded about this stupid race. -JP from SD.

PS: Esky over Sidney, Mission, and Dublin. Take it to the bank!

El Angelo said...

My mistake--he was pounded down to 9-1. Nice call.

Keith - TripleDeadHeat said...

Nice...i've been od'ing on The XX for awhile now. They opened here in toronto the other night for hot chip.

I'm looking to take a stand against Eskendereya as well...currently looking at candy instead of lucky - but you have my thinking!

Unknown said...

I agree on Lucky as the standout. Esky is hard to leave out of any super slot. You'd hate to have leaving him out cost you a nice prize.

Beyond those two I am looking at stamina types who are going to clunk up into the minor placing slots because this Derby is setting up as having a white hot pace.

No one is rooting for Eightyfiveinafifty to win the Trial than me. If that happens they may go faster than Spanish Chestnut pace.

Alan Mann said...

Keith - They're opening for Hot Chip here tonight at a sold out show; and they sold out their own show here a couple of weeks ago. I saw them at a free show last summer when the buzz was just a murmur. And I'm also interested in Sidney's Candy, more on him later.

Bill - I second that emotion on the Derby Trial....can't believe they're pigheaded enough to be attempting this with this poor horse.

DiscreetPicks said...

Whayt difference does "2yo sprint breeding" make when the horse has already proven himself around two turns (several times over)?

I agree that you probably don't wan't a horse with known pyshical issues coming back on 3 weeks rest into a 1 1/4-mile race, but based solely on his on-track credentials i think he deserves a look. It's encouraging that he trained well the other day, and as Alan mentioned the Arkansas Derby is an easy toss.

Alan Mann said...

hey jk - wha' happened??

Anonymous said...

DP, you obviously are enamored with Noble and good luck to you and El Angelo with him, but the fact that he has "proven himself" around two turns has absolutely zero bearing on his getting 10f next Saturday.

Good Luck, but he is a complete toss with that pedigree even if he did not have the physical issues. Just the fact that he is still not comitting should tell you your money will be better spent somewhere else.

Wish Setsuko could somehow get in, but appears unlikely. Talk about a closer that could come flying down the lane, here is the horse, but he sits on the sidelines so owners can feed their egos.

Patrick J Patten said...

Yeah, but i think i'll go about hiding my head after the derby. I'm so locked in on Esky now, but i agree Baffert's done nothing wrong w/ his horse. just afraid of the poly thing, colonel john still hurts my soul.

Anonymous said...

CJ actually didn't run that badly in Louisville. He just wasn't good enough. Plus he had to go very wide and close into a moderate (by Derby standards) pace. -JP

Ray Paulick said...

Awesome news about your daughter.