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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Rebel Stakes Flashback: Lookin At Lucky

Lookin at Lucky 615 X 415
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


Lookin at Lucky was the Juvenile Champion of 2009. That year, he won six of seven starts, with only a narrow, tough luck defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The attractive son of Smart Strike followed that lone two-year-old loss with a score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in his juvenile finale. The ¾-length victory came at the expense of Noble’s Promise, a horse that he passed late while just missing the win in the Breeders’ Cup. It would not be the last time the two would battle.

The pair would meet again for the third consecutive time, but this one was three months later, and halfway across the country, in the Rebel Stakes in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Once again, Lookin at Lucky would get the better of his talented rival, but this time it would take every inch of the 8 ½ furlongs of the Oaklawn Park trip. 

In both horse’s three-year-old debut, Noble's Promise ran his usual bang-up stalking race. Sitting comfortably just off the early lead, he moved towards the lead on the far turn in tandem with the highly regarded Dublin. Meanwhile, Lookin at Lucky was not so lucky.


Recovering quickly from a scary check midway through the backstretch, he tried to stay in touch with the other two favorites from the outside. As the Rebel field came spinning out of the far turn in front of a large and appreciative crowd, it was apparent that it had become a three-horse race, but Lookin at Lucky was the one who had the most to do.

Noble Promise surged on the rail to get the better of Dublin, but Lookin at Lucky was now rolling on the outside under Garrett Gomez. As the familiar pair strode ever closer to the finish line, the champion dug down deep for something extra. It was never clear if he was going to catch his challenger until the very final jump, when Lookin at Lucky stuck his nose out in front. 

I’ve seen a lot of editions of the Rebel over the years, but this one, from four years ago, is one of my favorites. Looking at Lucky demonstrated a strong ability to overcome in his initial run as a three-year-old. It was the only way he was going to get the best of his classy foe, after the trouble he encountered.


Of course, that became the thing with the Bob Baffert charge - he proved anything but lucky. Still, he would go on to win 9-of-13 lifetime, including important wins in the Preakness and Haskell, as well as, the Indiana Derby, on his way to a second straight Eclipse Award. He remains the only horse to win both the 2yo Male Championship and 3yo Male Championship since the great Spectacular Bid turned the trick in 1978 and 1979. I just wish that the 2010 Rebel winner got the chance to show what he could have done as an older horse. Who knows how good he would have been.



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Older Comments about Rebel Stakes Flashback: Lookin At Lucky...

I fell in love with him as a two year old and was sure he would win the Derby. He had some really bad luck in that race or maybe things would have been different. Was definitely broken hearted when they retired him that year after saying he was going to run at 4. Could not believe that Gomez gave him several bad rides in a row (and that is what got him beat in my opinion). Was glad Baffert finally took him off but wish he had done it a race sooner for the Derby. Lookin forward to seeing his sons/daughters starting this year!
monster in good hands now cant wait to bet on his babies
Lucky started that Haskell winning streak for Baffert. He was one of my Baffert favorites.
Imagine if he didn't get the 1-hole in the Derby - I think he would have been a serious runner if he stayed in training

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

As Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of Directors of The Exceller Fund. Brian also consults for leading contest site Derby Wars, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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