Race of the Week 2017

Lookin At Lucky Inhales Haskell Rivals

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 Invitational (G1).

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 him.’

“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 second place.”

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.”




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Older Comments about Lookin At Lucky Inhales Haskell Rivals...

The "experts" drag out this evaluation each and every year since I have followed the game and that goes back a lot of seasons. Like evaluating a book of 18 chapters after reading 6 of them. Old story with a beard on it a mile and a half long. Enjoy what is for what it is.
Thank goodness for Lookin At Lucky. The one bright star in what I consider the worst year for 3yr.old colts that I can remember for eons. Lookin At Lucky clearly stamped himself as much the best among 3yr.old colts in yesterday's Haskell Invitational. Easily dispatching both the Kentucky and Florida Derby winners. I really believe had the track at Churchill Downs not looked like a lake on Derby day. Lookin At Lucky would've been this year's Kentucky Derby winner as well. He's the only 3yr.old that's remotely talented enough to go forward to this year's Breeders Cup Classic. And even Lucky's chances of winning the Classic are very, very slim. With the likes of Quality Road, Blame, and Zenyatta headed for Churchill Downs in November as well. JMO.

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