08/09/2009 11:00PM

Baffert heads to the Hall on a high

Email
Benoit & Associates
Lookin at Lucky gives trainer Bob Baffert a seventh win in the Best Pal on Sunday at Del Mar. He will run next in the Del Mar Futurity.

DEL MAR, Calif. - With stakes wins by Zensational in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby on Saturday and Lookin at Lucky in the Grade 2 Best Pal on Sunday, last week ended and this week began on upbeat notes for trainer Bob Baffert. And it only figures to get better.

On Friday, Baffert will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He left Del Mar on Monday morning for an extended visit to Saratoga, including the yearling sales, the Hall of Fame ceremonies, and running some of the horses he has stabled at the old Spa with John and Tonja Terranova.

"I'm just glad I'm not staggering into the Hall of Fame," Baffert said after Lookin at Lucky gave him a record seventh win in the Best Pal, all since 1998. Lookin at Lucky won by three-quarters of a length in 1:16.06 for 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack.

Baffert said Lookin at Lucky will return Sept. 7 in the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, a race Baffert has won a record eight times, all since 1996. He won it last year with Midshipman, who went on to take the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and, with it, the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

Lookin at Lucky is unbeaten in two starts. He defeated maidens in his debut at Hollywood Park on July 11. He has the pedigree to go on. Lookin at Lucky is by Smart Strike, the sire of Curlin, and is out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, whose 3-year-old is Kensei, winner of the Jim Dandy and Dwyer stakes.

"I've always thought he had a lot of talent," Baffert said.

Zensational eyes pair of Grade 1's

Zensational may have two more starts before the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.

Sunday, Baffert said Zensational could run in one or two $300,000 Grade 1 races - the Pat O'Brien Stakes at seven furlongs here Sept. 6 or the Ancient Title Stakes at six furlongs at Santa Anita on Oct. 11.

"I'll wait two weeks and then I'll know more," Baffert said. "I want to go in fresh for the Breeders' Cup. It depends on his level of energy. He loves to train."

In the Bing Crosby, Zensational outclassed four rivals, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of the ex-claimer Talkin to Mom Roo. Global Hunter, who won the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on turf here July 25, finished third in the field of five.

Zensational led throughout under jockey Victor Espinoza, breaking from the rail. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.57, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

"He's so fast," Baffert said. Espinoza "hit him once and he rebroke."

Zensational's final time just missed Cost of Freedom's 2008 track record on a Polytrack surface of 1:08.29.

"If he would have been on the outside, he would have broken the track record," Baffert said. "He let us down."

Zensational, a 3-year-old owned by Ahmed Zayat, won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park last month before taking the Bing Crosby.

Talkin to Mom Roo will be pointed for the Pat O'Brien, trainer Ted H. West said. A 6-year-old gelding who was claimed for $40,000 in March 2008, Talk to Mom Roo rallied from fourth in the Crosby.

"I think he's a little bit better going farther, maybe seven-eighths or a mile," West said after the Bing Crosby. "He doesn't get untracked until the last furlong. I'm still thrilled. Anytime you can claim a horse that can run second in a Grade 1, that's all right."

Global Hunter will make his next start in the $1 million Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on the main track Sept. 6, trainer A.C. Avila said.

Sadler looking at Del Mar stakes

Black Mamba and Oil Man, unplaced in Grade 1 stakes at Arlington Park on Saturday, will start in the closing weeks of the Del Mar meeting, trainer John Sadler said Sunday.

Black Mamba, who finished last of eight in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes, is a candidate for the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf against males Aug. 30. Sadler said he does not want to wait for the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 with the 6-year-old mare.

"It's a long way to carry her to the Yellow Ribbon," he said.

Black Mamba finished fourth against males in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup last December. She won the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Oil Man finished fourth in the Secretariat Stakes and will be considered for the $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6. He won the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park in June.

"It was a crushing day to go that far and not run well," Sadler said.

Gryder, Solis escape serious injury

Jockeys Aaron Gryder and Alex Solis escaped serious injury in an accident in the final race Sunday, in which one horse was euthanized.

Gryder was "a little body sore, that's it," his agent, Tommy Ball, said Monday morning.

Solis sprained a thumb, but otherwise was fine, according to his agent, Brian Beach.

Solis's mount, Endless Moon, went down a furlong into the seven-furlong maiden claiming race while battling for the lead when, according to the track's stewards, he fractured both his left front and left rear legs. Gryder's mount, Captain Cash, could not avoid the fallen horse and crashed into Endless Moon.

Endless Moon became the eighth horse to be euthanized at the meet and the first since July 30.

Joyful Success points to Futurity

Trainer Peter Miller will have two runners in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7 after Joyful Success won the second start of his career in a maiden race Saturday.

Ridden by Tyler Baze, Joyful Success ($10.60) dueled for the lead with Get My Fix and won by a neck over that rival, finishing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.06.

Before Saturday's race, Miller said that Joyful Success was too heavy when he made his debut.

"He lost 100 pounds since the last race," Miller said. "He showed me some gameness."

On Aug. 1, Miller won a maiden race with Futurity hopeful Sterling Outlook. Both Joyful Success and Sterling Outlook are owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel.

* Tuscan Evening, preparing for Sunday's Grade 1, $350,000 John Mabee Stakes, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 on Monday morning for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

* Tyler Baze led Del Mar's jockeys with six wins last week, pulling him into a tie atop the standings with Joel Rosario, with 20 victories apiece. Victor Espinoza is third with 15 wins. John Sadler, seeking his second straight Del Mar title, leads all trainers with 10 wins, three more than Doug O'Neill and the red-hot Peter Miller, who has won with 7 of just 25 starters.

* Jockey Joy Scott has been suspended by Del Mar's stewards for three days, beginning Wednesday, for causing interference on the far turn aboard Ol'dogtown in the 10th race on Aug. 2.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen