09/29/2010 12:57PM

Lookin At Lucky a heavy favorite in Indiana Derby

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Mark Wyville/Equi-Photo
Lookin At Lucky will be a big favorite in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

ANDERSON, Ind. – Easily the biggest draw in the history of Thoroughbred racing in Indiana will be at Hoosier Park on Saturday when Lookin At Lucky prepares for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by taking on eight other 3-year-olds as a heavy favorite in the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby.

Lookin At Lucky, winner of the Preakness and Haskell and the clear-cut leader in the North American 3-year-old division, was assigned post 6 when entries were drawn Wednesday for the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby. Martin Garcia has the mount for trainer Bob Baffert.

Lookin At Lucky was scheduled to arrive mid-afternoon Wednesday at Indianapolis International Airport, following an early-morning departure on a FedEx flight from Southern California. The colt was accompanied on the flight by assistant Jim Barnes and groom Roberto Luna. Baffert said he expected to arrive here Friday night, and that he and all three of the colt’s owners – Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman – will be here for the race.

“The horse left out of here in great shape,” Baffert said Wednesday morning from Hollywood Park.

After his four-length triumph in the Aug. 1 Haskell, Lookin At Lucky missed nearly a month of serious training because of a minor illness. The colt has had four workouts since Sept. 8, with the latest coming Sunday at Hollywood.

Baffert said the colt is booked to return Monday to California, where he will train for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

The Saturday opposition for Lookin At Lucky doesn’t look nearly as formidable as what the colt has faced in most of his 11 career races. Only one challenger, Thiskyhasnolimit, has won a graded stakes, and that was the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill nearly a year ago. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt also has won two nongraded stakes, including the $300,000 Smarty Jones on Sept. 6 in Philadelphia.

Otherwise, there are a few horses in the field with credentials that are decent, if not spectacular, including Churchill shipper Worldly, narrowly beaten in the Ohio Derby last out; and Nacho Friend, the Smarty Jones runner-up. The others entered are Dabossman, Indy Bull, Litigation Risk, St. Maximus Gato, and Uareoutlaw.

Hoosier has listed Lookin At Lucky as the 5-2 program favorite, although surely the colt will be bet down far lower.

Hoosier Park has a seven-furlong dirt surface, so the race starts three-sixteenths of a mile up the stretch, affording plenty of run into the clubhouse turn.

The 16th Indiana Derby will anchor a 14-race Saturday card, the first in track history for a Thoroughbred program with more than $1 million in purses. First post will be 12:35 p.m. Eastern, with the Indiana Derby, the 12th race, set for 6:02.

HRTV will be providing extensive onsite coverage of the Indiana Derby and preceding events, with Peter Lurie and Zoe Cadman as hosts.

Also on tap Saturday are the Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks (race 11) and the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile (race 10). Four $84,000 stakes for Indiana-bred races go as races 6 through 9. A 50-cent pick-four wager will end with the Indiana Derby.