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Baffert high on Lookin at Lucky
DEL MAR, Calif. - There were nine Grade 1 races run at Del Mar this summer, and trainer Bob Baffert won five of them. He won going short (Zensational), he won going long (Richard's Kid), he won on the turf (Internallyflawless), and, naturally, he won with 2-year-olds, with Lookin at Lucky giving Baffert a record ninth win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Monday.
Those nine Futurity wins have come in just 14 runnings, and many of the winners have gone on to bigger and better things. Silver Charm, Baffert's first Del Mar Futurity winner in 1996, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness the next year. Midshipman, last year's winner, captured the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was named the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male. Baffert said he believes Lookin at Lucky has a bright future, too.
"He's a serious horse," Baffert said.
Baffert on Tuesday morning said Lookin at Lucky had come out of the race well and would head to Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting for his next two races, the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes on Oct. 4 and then the BC Juvenile on Nov. 7. Perhaps by then Baffert will have his voice back. It was hoarse on Monday after cheering home Richard's Kid and Zensational on Sunday, and was barely above a wispy rasp on Tuesday.
"I couldn't even root," Baffert said.
Lookin at Lucky had to fight his way between horses at the top of the stretch after racing along the rail and behind horses for the first five furlongs of the seven-furlong race. Make Music for Me was second and Smiling Tiger third, the same one-two-three finish as in last month's Best Pal Stakes here.
"The horse learned a whole lot," Baffert said.
Lookin at Lucky has now won all three of his starts, beginning against maidens at Hollywood Park, and then the Best Pal. Garrett Gomez has been aboard all three times.
Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman own Lookin at Lucky, a 2-year-old son of Smart Strike who was purchased earlier this year for $475,000 at Keeneland's 2-year-olds in training sale. Those three men also owned Midnight Lute, who won the BC Sprint the two previous years.
"I told them this horse is like Midnight Lute, a franchise horse," Baffert said.
Pegram, Watson, Weitman, and Baffert also won a maiden race on Monday with another 2-year-old colt, Indian Firewater, a son of Indian Charlie who was making his second start. He won by 4 1/4 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs.
Norfolk among options for John Scott
Among the challengers Lookin at Lucky could face in the Norfolk is John Scott, who remained unbeaten on Monday with a late-running victory in the Graduation Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds.
John Harris, who bred John Scott and owns him in partnership, said John Scott could race next in either the Norfolk or the California Cup Juvenile on Oct. 3. Regardless, Harris said, the BC Juvenile is on the radar screen.
John Scott won his only previous start against maidens. He is trained by Carla Gaines.
Pulsion earns shot at Norfolk
Pulsion, who won a one-mile race for maidens on Saturday, will challenge Lookin at Lucky in the Norfolk, according to trainer Patrick Biancone.
"He did the Zenyatta move, four-wide," Biancone said. "He was crying for longer distance."
Pulsion had lost a pair of sprints before stretching out around two turns on Saturday.
Biancone ran another horse, Zip Quik, against Lookin at Lucky in the Futurity, and came away impressed with the winner.
"All the trouble and he still won," Biancone said. "Good horse, good horse."
Late date affects Labor Day crowd
Labor Day fell the latest it could on the calendar this year, and with school having started for most children in California already, there has been a noticeable dropoff in crowds at restaurants and the like near Del Mar the past week. Summer is definitely coming to an end.
It affected attendance at the track, too. Del Mar drew only 11,343 fans on Monday's Labor Day card. The overall handle was a strong $15,912,625, no doubt boosted by a pick six carryover of $427,333 from Sunday's Pacific Classic card.
Another $1,780,391 in fresh money was bet into Monday's pick six. It was a fairly formful sequence, but two longshots made it worthwhile for 27 ticket holders who each cashed for $53,143.40.
Inadvertent scratch frustrates LaCroix
Trainer David LaCroix was frustrated Monday when the inadvertent scratch of one of his horses by a track veterinarian kept a perfectly sound horse from running.
LaCroix had two horses entered on Monday, Summers at Delmar in the seventh race and Amore Di Aleyna in the 10th. During a routine morning veterinary examination required of all horses competing that day, Amore Di Aleyna was found by Dr. Barrie Grant to be unsound for racing. But when Grant called in the scratch to the stewards, he erroneously said it was Summers at Delmar.
Summers at Delmar was scratched and taken out of the betting pools for nearly an hour, according to Tom Ward, one of Del Mar's stewards. A little later, Amore Di Aleyna was also scratched, correctly.
LaCroix was upset that he was prevented from running Summers at Delmar for purse money only, which is what he thought was a reasonable solution. But the stewards would not allow it.
"There's nothing to prevent us from letting a horse run for purse money only, but, as policy, it's never really been done," Ward said. "I think it can be confusing to the public. And what if the horse running for purse money only causes interference?"
BC Classic next for Rail Trip
Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip, who finished third in the Pacific Classic on Sunday, will bypass the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 10 and not race again until the BC Classic on Nov. 7, according to trainer Ron Ellis.
"It's not perfect either way," Ellis said. "Two months is not ideal, but I don't want to run him in this race, then the Goodwood, then the Breeders' Cup. He had seven weeks from the Gold Cup to the Pacific Classic. This will be another week or so."
Ellis said Rail Trip would train at Hollywood Park. "He does well there," Ellis said.
Colonel John likely for Goodwood
In contrast to Rail Trip, Colonel John likely will run in the Goodwood, trainer Eoin Harty said. Colonel John was making only his second start of the year in the Pacific Classic, and finished fifth after encountering severe traffic trouble on the far turn under Gomez.
"He was sitting with a double handful of horse, and when he went for his run, Mast Track backed up," Harty said. "It was one of those days. I knew I was in trouble in the morning. I left the racing office and went to my car, and stepped in a pile of dog [excrement]. It was like a land mine."
* Grazen, who won the El Cajon Stakes on Saturday, will make his next start in the Cal Cup Classic, trainer Mike Mitchell said.
* Internallyflawless, the Del Mar Oaks winner, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Polytrack on Tuesday morning at Del Mar.