Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. Affirmed and Alydar. Lookin At Lucky and Noble’s Promise? It’s starting to look that way. Lookin At Lucky and Nobel’s Promise have met on the racetrack three times, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G-1), Cash Call Futurity (G-1) and Rebel Stakes (G-2). All three times Lookin At Lucky has triumphed over Noble's Promise by margins of ½ length, ¾ length and a head.
Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling, by Belong to Me) the two year old Eclipse Award Champion for 2009, has galloped his way back to the head of many lists of 2010 Kentucky Derby contenders. His gallant effort in the 1 1/16 mile Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park over the weekend amazed many fans. After checking hard off of heels at the half mile pole, Lookin At Lucky swung to the outside and gave it his all, tearing past a fading Dublin and catching Nobel’s Promise by a desperate head right at the wire, stopping the clock in 1:43.06. His trainer Bob Baffert indicated that Lookin At Lucky will point to the Wood Memorial where his may face the Gotham Stakes winner Awesome Act, recent Tampa Bay Derby winner Odysseus, and Fountain of Youth runner-up Jackson Bend.
In the last three years, two juvenile champions have won the Kentucky Derby. Last year, Canada's two year old champion Mine That Bird was crowed the Derby winner and in 2007 Street Sense was the first winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and two year old champion to win the roses. Can Lookin At Lucky become the third?
Last Spring, Lookin At Lucky worked one furlong in 10:00 flat, and sold for $450,000 at the Keeneland April two year olds in training sale. He was snapped up by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman and sent to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who knows a few things about getting a horse to the winner’s circle in Kentucky. Lookin At Lucky became the overwhelming voting favorite for the 2009 Eclipse Award Two Year Old Male by winning the Del Mar Futurity (G-1) Norfolk Stakes (G-1), Cash Call Futurity (G-1) and Best Pal Stakes (G-2). His only defeat was by an un-lucky head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G-1). Besides recording his name in the record books as Champion Two Year Old Male, he is also the first juvenile colt to win three Grade 1 Stakes races in North America in twenty-two years.
We’ve seen spectacular juveniles in the past that couldn’t live up the Derby dreams because their pedigrees were more precocious than classic. Let’s take a closer look at the 2009 Champion Colt and what his pedigree portends for his Kentucky Derby chances.
Lookin At Lucky's sire Smart Strike, a son of the great Mr. Prospector out of the blue hen Classy and Smart (by Smarten), has been leading sire for two consecutive years (2007 - 2008). He has produced ten champions and thirty-eight graded stakes winners from only eleven racing crops. Smart Strike is known for getting winners over all surfaces. He is a superior mud sire, with a 20% win rate, and while he gets about 15% winners over synthetic tracks, the majority are at their best over dirt and turf. He has produced three Grade 1 runners, Curlin, Fleetstreet Dancer and Shadow Cast who have won at ten furlongs or beyond over dirt.
Lookin At Lucky's damsire Belong to Me, a six furlong sprint specialist, is the broodmare sire of eight stakes winners in 2009, but his daughters have yet to produce a winner at the classic distance of ten furlongs. Lookin At Lucky has similar breeding to Grade 2 Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem who is by Smart Strike out of a mare by Belong to Me. 2007 Kentucky Derby hopeful Circular Quay and Radiohead, a possible contender for this year’s Derby also count Belong to Me as their damsire. Belong to Me, a son of the international sire Danzig out of the Exclusive Native mare Belonging, is the broodmare sire of six stakes winners and one champion. The Smart Strike – Belong to Me bloodline cross or “nick” receives an A++ rating from Truenicks. This promising cross has produced five starters from six foals (83%), with four winners (67%) and three stakes horses (50%).
Papa Clem takes the Arkansas Derby
Lookin At Lucky's dam Private Feeling, who is out of the Clever Trick mare Regal Feeling, won twice in five attempts sprinting over the dirt, and was unplaced in two starts over the lawn for a race record of 7-2-0-1 and earnings of $18, 245. Her half sister Grand Charmer (by Lord Avie), winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up is the grand-dam of champion three year old filly, Wait A While. Private Feeling is also a half sister to Get Smarter (by Smart Strike), runner-up in the Hallandale Beach Stakes. Second dam Regal Feeling (By Clever Trick) was stakes placed and third dam Sharp Belle won the Grade 1 Monmouth Oaks. Lookin At Lucky ‘s only sibling to race is his half brother Kensei (by Mr. Greeley) who won the Jim Dandy (G-2) and Dwyer (G-2).
Lookin At Lucky receives classic stamina from his sire, but his distaff sire and second broodmare sire were both sprinters and light on the stamina side. Neither produced a mare whose offspring could win beyond nine furlongs, although a few did place at ten furlongs. What Lookin At Lucky lacks in a distance-oriented pedigree, he more than makes up with his dexterous athletic body, mental maturity and natural talent. His win in the Rebel Stakes showed that he can overcome trouble and still have the determination to win. We’ve seen other winners of the Kentucky Derby that have been light in pedigree but possessed these other necessary qualifications, so don’t count Lookin At Lucky out just yet. His abilities, plus a little bit of luck could have him lookin at a Derby win.