05/13/2010 12:04PM

Is he finally lookin' at lucky?


    First off, the No. 1 post position in the Kentucky Derby is not a death sentence, no matter what you read. If you have the time, consult YouTube to watch the video of Derby runnings from 2003-2009, and you won't see meaningful early trouble for any of those rail-drawn horses. As a matter of fact, in each of those years, the horses breaking from the inside post outran their projected finishes based on final odds (average odds ranking 15th, average finish 9.5). There is much to be said for saving ground - ask Calvin Borel.

But having said that, Lookin at Lucky seems the kind of horse that would least benefit from the No. 1 post in the Derby. After his travails in the Rebel, Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, he looks to me like a horse who is easily intimidated. 

  Apparently Garrett Gomez feels the same way.  In his post-Derby blog, Gomez wrote, "I got bounced the first couple of jumps.....and he got up on his feet and traveled well for about six or seven jumps and all of a sudden he just stuck his feet in the ground and hesitated. When he stuck them in the ground, I sat down on him because I didn't know what was going on. By then, I started to figure out what he was doing. I knew I was in trouble, because you can't do that in this race, going into the first turn. You can't give up that ground."   

    That hesitation by Lookin at Lucky put him a position to get swarmed a second time in the opening quarter-mile and shuffled back to 18th.  Of course, the two horses behind him - Ice Box and Make Music For Me - didn't run too badly from way back there, so don't let your excuse-o-meter run wild.

Lookin at Lucky's No. 7 post position in the Preakness is better for Baffert's plan to have Martin Garcia get him outside and away from claustrophobia. This strategy might incur ground loss, but preferably not as much as his Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and, anyhow, a three-wide trip is better than having him stick his feet in the ground again.

    If Super Saver's Derby improvement was strictly due to trip, slop or a fondness for Churchill Downs, then with the right trip Lookin at Lucky is clearly at the top of the list of alternatives. Paddy O' Prado's Derby trouble is being overrated in my opinion, but he's obviously in with a chance, as well.  And for a longshot, consider Yawanna Twist at 30-1.  He's never run a bad race, has Rick Dutrow in his corner, his Illinois Derby was better than many think, and he has the tactical speed to secure a beneficial spot.