08/02/2010 3:18PM

Lookin At Lucky headed home

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Alyssa Spakowski/Equi-Photo
Lookin At Lucky wins the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The powerful victory by Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell Invitational on Sunday at Monmouth Park has catapulted him to the top of the 3-year-old male division, but anyone itching for a rematch, like the connections of Trappe Shot, First Dude, and Super Saver, the next three finishers in the race, might have to wait a bit.

Lookin At Lucky was scheduled to return from Monmouth Park to Del Mar on Tuesday, rather than head to Saratoga, where hopes here were high that Lookin At Lucky would compete later this month in the $1 million Travers Stakes. By returning to Del Mar, speculation may increase for Lookin At Lucky to run against a weakened older horse division on the West Coast in the $1 million Pacific Classic, which, like the Travers, is on Aug. 28.

 

Baffert on Monday night did not rule out the Travers, saying, "I might go back if he works like he did before the Haskell."

But instead of those two races, Lookin At Lucky might very well await the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 25 at Philadelphia Park, a race co-owner Mike Pegram asked about soon after the Haskell. The Pennsylvania Derby, like the Travers and the Pacific Classic, is $1 million. It is on natural dirt, a surface Baffert prefers. And it offers an ideal bridge between the Haskell and the Breeders’ Cup Classic should Baffert desire just one race in that time span. The Pennsylvania Derby was previously run on Labor Day, but was moved, perhaps fortuitously, this year.

Lookin At Lucky had 11 weeks between the Preakness and the Haskell, and he ran the best race of his life, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105. The Travers and Pacific Classic are four weeks away, then there are 10 weeks to the Classic at Churchill Downs, whereas the Pennsylvania Derby falls eight weeks after the Haskell and six weeks before the BC Classic.

Lookin At Lucky became the second horse in consecutive years to win the Preakness and the Haskell, following the filly Rachel Alexandra, who went on to be Horse of the Year last year. Rival horsemen were impressed with his race, acknowledging he is the pro-tem leader of the division.

“Right now, we’re in second place,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Trappe Shot.

“Lookin At Lucky definitely took the upper hand,” said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Super Saver.

“Right now, you know Baffert’s horse is at the top of the class,” said Nick Zito, who had a disappointing day with Ice Box and Our Dark Knight in the Haskell.

Should Lookin At Lucky retain that spot, he would become the first male 2-year-old champion to repeat at age 3 since Spectacular Bid, an inglorious drought of 30 years.

The Travers will include A Little Warm, who got a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 when capturing the Jim Dandy Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga. That began a weekend of extremes with 3-year-olds for trainer Tony Dutrow, who also won the Curlin Stakes on Sunday with Winslow Homer, who emerged from the race with a fracture to his left front cannon bone.

Dutrow has always had a high opinion of A Little Warm, but had been reluctant to stretch him out earlier this year. On Monday morning at his Saratoga barn, Dutrow credited owner Ed Evans with pushing him to run A Little Warm around two turns.

“It was a mistake on my part not to do it earlier,” Dutrow said, candidly. “I didn’t give him the chance soon enough.”

Super Saver also will be pointed to the Travers. He arrived back at Pletcher’s Saratoga barn shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday following a van ride from Monmouth.

“I thought he ran very well,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully he’ll follow suit from this spring, when his third off the layoff was his best race. He’ll run in the Travers and then hopefully fire his best shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” which, like the Kentucky Derby, is 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs.

Bill Casner, the co-owner WinStar Farms, which owns Super Saver, said Super Saver “got a little hot in the paddock.”

“That was the difference between second and fourth,” Casner said. “Lookin At Lucky ran a really nice race.”

Zito said his two runners from the Haskell, along with Jim Dandy runners Miners Reserve, who finished second, and Fly Down, who finished fifth, all pulled up well. But Zito said he was not making any definitive plans regarding the Travers.

“We’ll see what happens,” Zito said. “It’s kind of frustrating. We’ll just take it one day at a time. We’ve just got to regroup with everything. We’ll keep our options open.”