03/09/2010 12:00AM

Lookin At Lucky gets hood for Rebel

Benoit & Associates
Jockey Garrett Gomez (left) suggested that trainer Bob Baffert (right) add blinkers to 2009 champion 2-year-old Lookin At Lucky's equipment.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Lookin At Lucky's future is so bright, he's got to wear shades.

The champion 2-year-old of 2009, Lookin At Lucky will be adding blinkers Saturday when he makes his first start of the year in the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Lookin At Lucky, who is based in Southern California, was one of two Grade 1 winners who flew into Hot Springs on Tuesday for the Rebel. Noble's Promise, winner of last fall's Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, arrived Tuesday morning from south Florida. They will be part of a projected seven- to eight-horse field for the Rebel, a 1 1/16-mile race that serves as the final local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Lookin At Lucky is coming off a 5-for-6 season in which he won a trio of Grade 1 races - the Del Mar Futurity, the Norfolk, and the CashCall Futurity, in his last start Dec. 19. His lone loss came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, when he missed by a head after breaking from post 13. Regular rider Garrett Gomez has the mount for the Rebel, said Bob Baffert, who trains Lookin At Lucky.

The decision to add blinkers was made earlier this year, after Lookin At Lucky worked in the equipment.

"Garrett Gomez thought when he makes the lead, he shuts down," Baffert said. "The blinkers will keep him a little bit more focused in the stretch."

Baffert said Lookin At Lucky will wear French-cup blinkers, which is a style of blinkers that have a modest amount of closure.

The Rebel will be the horse's first start outside of California, much like the two horses Baffert has sent to Oaklawn already this meet. Conveyance came here in February and won the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest, while Freedom Star shipped to town last weekend and took the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri.

"I'm going to have to buy a house there," Baffert said Monday.

Noble's Promise, who in his last start was second by three-quarters of a length in the CashCall, will be ridden Saturday by Robby Albarado, trainer Ken McPeek said.

Others expected for the race include Grade 1 winner Dublin, to be ridden by Corey Nakatani; Cardiff Giant, the third-place finisher in the Southwest under regular rider Christian Santiago Reyes; Uh Oh Bango, the runner-up in the Grade 3, $750,000 Delta Jackpot who will team with Glenn Corbett; and Pleasant Storm, the runner-up in the $100,000 Smarty Jones who is to be ridden by Jon Court. Trainer Joe Petalino said Pleasant Storm was to ship from Louisiana Downs to Oaklawn on Wednesday.