02/09/2010 12:00AM

Leparoux takes second shot at big day


ARCADIA, Calif. - Perhaps this weekend will go better for star jockey Julien Leparoux than last weekend.

Leparoux, who is based at Gulfstream Park this winter, arrived in Southern California last Saturday to discover the Santa Anita program, and his four scheduled mounts in stakes, were rained out due to a synthetic track that failed to drain sufficiently. Leparoux stayed for Sunday's Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap but finished fifth aboard Furthest Land, losing by three-quarters of a length.

This weekend could go better for Leparoux, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding jockey of 2009. Among his expected mounts are American Lion in the rescheduled $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes and Eagle Poise in the $200,000 Strub Stakes.

American Lion is Leparoux's best chance for a Kentucky Derby ride, at least so far. Leparoux was aboard for American Lion's maiden win at Keeneland last October and his win in his stakes debut, the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes over seven furlongs last November. The Lewis will be American Lion's first start at 1 1/16 miles.

"He ran big last year, and hopefully will get better," Leparoux said. "First time going two turns, I think he will be better."

Leparoux, 26, knows that his season will be scrutinized as it unfolds.

After winning his first Eclipse Award as the nation's leading jockey, everyone from owners and trainers to racing fans will be expecting more from him.

"To get on top is okay, but to stay on top is difficult," he said. "You've got work harder."

A successful day at Santa Anita on Saturday would provide such a boost.

Lookin At Lucky works toward return

Tuesday was a busy morning at Santa Anita, with 268 recorded workouts, including those of several major stakes winners and one 2009 champion. Rain was expected in Southern California later Tuesday and early Wednesday, giving trainers an incentive to get the works completed.

Lookin At Lucky, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2009, officially worked three furlongs in 36.60 seconds, though trainer Bob Baffert timed him in 50 seconds for a half-mile. The difference in the times was caused when Lookin At Lucky began his workout with a slow opening furlong under jockey Garrett Gomez, Baffert said.

"He went easy," Baffert said. "He walked away from that pole. I was going to work him tomorrow but with the rain, I thought I'd better get him out."

Lookin At Lucky has not started since winning the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December. Baffert has targeted a March return, possibly in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 13.

The Baffert-trained Conveyance, who is bound for Monday's Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60. Baffert said that Conveyance will be his only runner in the Southwest and that Macias and Tiz Chrome will start in the resceheduled Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday.

BC sprint winners drill for Dubai trip

California Flag and Dancing in Silks, the winners of Breeders' Cup sprint stakes in November, worked in advance of trips to Dubai next month.

California Flag, who won the BC Turf Sprint, was timed in 1:00.60 for five furlongs. He will start in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on March 27. Trainer Brian Koriner said California Flag is unlikely to have a prep race before then. The 6-year-old gelding was fifth in the Hong Kong Sprint in Asia in December.

"I don't think there will be a prep for him," Koriner said. "I think he's fine. We've got quite a few works before we go" to Dubai.

Dancing in Silks, winner of the BC Sprint, worked five furlongs in 59.40. Trained by Carla Gaines, Dancing in Silks is bound for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai. He was third in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap here Jan. 23.

Blind Luck, the two-time Grade 1 winner who will be favored in Saturday's Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds.

TOC to host panel discussions

The Thoroughbred Owners of California is hosting a morning of panel discussions on in-state simulcasting, California's racing calendar, and track surfaces at Santa Anita on Saturday.

The discussions were requested last year by TOC members to address important issues facing the sport. The program begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m., featuring commentary from racing executives and horsemen.

Space is limited. For further information, including reservations, please contact the TOC at (626) 574-6620.