Lookin at Lucky moved to the
head of the 3-year-old class at Monmouth
Park Sunday as he
dominated his rivals in the 43rd running of the $1 million IZOD Haskell
Sent off the 6-5 favorite in a field of seven that included the Kentucky Derby
winner and two other Triple Crown-placed runners, Lookin at Lucky drew off
through the stretch to win by four lengths under jockey Martin Garcia, giving
trainer Bob Baffert a record fourth victory in the Haskell. He raced the mile
and an eighth over a fast main track in 1:49 4/5.
The Haskell Day crowd of 40,904 at Monmouth bet $3,270,939, and helped set an
all-time record for Haskell handle, as $4,463,736 was bet on the race. The
total handle for the 14-race card was $17,442,170, second highest ever for a
non-Breeders’ Cup program, and just a shade under the 2008 mark of $17,642,955,
when $4,257,409 was bet on the Haskell.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Dennis R. Robinson, president
and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. “Racing, wagering
and attendance, it was an across-the-board winner. The fans really came out for
a great day and an exceptional race.
“To see the numbers we posted today is further testament to the racing
experiment at Monmouth Park this year, and what we hope is the new and
bright future of racing in the Garden
State,” Robinson said.
Lookin at Lucky, owned by the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul
Weitman, took a huge step toward the 3-year-old title with his Haskell victory,
which followed his score in the Preakness Stakes. The bay colt by Smart Strike
was the 2-year-old champion of 2009.
Baffert, who had been tied with Jimmy Croll and Sonny Hine with three Haskell
winners each, moved into the top spot as Lookin at Lucky followed Point Given
(2001), War Emblem (2002) and Roman Ruler (2005) into the Monmouth winner’s
circle for the California-based trainer.
Trappe Shot, sent off the 5-2 second choice in the Haskell, closed to be
second, three-quarters of a length in front of First Dude, who made all the
running and held gamely to take third by a nose over Derby winner Super Saver. Afleet Again was
fifth, a length and a half farther back, and a length in front of Ice Box, who
had two lengths on Our Dark Knight.
Lookin at Lucky paid $4.40, $3 and $2.40 across the board and topped the $17.20
exacta. Trappe Shot returned $3.40 and $2.60, and First Dude was $3 to show.
Lookin at Lucky earned the
$600,000 winner’s share of the Haskell, bringing his career total to $2,713,000
on a record of 8-1-1 in 11 starts.
First Dude took the track from the gate with Our Dark Knight and Super Saver
close behind. Garcia, who broke from the rail but took his colt to the outside
around the first turn, was content to sit fourth with Lookin at Lucky for the
first six furlongs.
With three furlongs to go, he sent Lookin at Lucky after the front runners. The
winner raced on even terms with Super Saver around the far turn, but Lookin at
Lucky gained command turning for home, shook off the challenge from Super
Saver, and then widened his margin through the stretch in a show of strength.
“He broke fine,” Baffert said, “and Martin eased him to the outside. I knew
we’d lose a little bit of ground, but that was the winning move. This was
really a break-out race.
“At the three-eighths pole, that’s when you know you’ve got a good horse
because they’ll be pulling you. Martin was still sitting, but when he pushed
the button, the horse really took off. You can’t make that move on synthetic,
but on dirt it was the winning move. That’s really what I like to see * running
fast horses on fast tracks.
“I’ve been coming here since 1997 when we ran Anet,” Baffert said. “Win, lose
or draw, I know we’ll have a great time at Monmouth.”
Winning jockey Martin Garcia, who picked up the mount on Lookin at Lucky in
time to win the Preakness, knows his colt very well.
“I’ve been working this horse for a long time now,” Garcia said. “Bob told me,
‘You know you’re on the best horse. Just give him a breather and then send
“I moved him to the outside because I knew I was on a super horse and I wanted
to keep him out of trouble. I knew I was on the best horse.”
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Trappe Shot, said, “He ran well, very well. 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
Dale Romans, who saddled First Dude, said, “He got challenged a little earlier
on the lead than I would have liked, but I guess every trainer with a horse on
the lead says that. I was happy with the way he dug in.”