04/20/2010 11:00PM

Lookin At Lucky lookin' good

Barbara D. Livingston
Lookin At Lucky trains at Churchill Downs on Wednesday under exercise rider Dana Barnes, putting in Mike Welsch's Work of the Day.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The quest for that perfect Derby workout continued Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs, and while it might not have been perfect, Lookin At Lucky delivered a performance that came close enough to keep the bandwagon fully loaded and trainer Bob Baffert brimming with confidence.

Lookin At Lucky was one of three potential Derby starters to work under partly cloudy skies here Wednesday along with stablemate Conveyance and Homeboykris. The racetrack remains fast but perhaps a little on the softer side than in recent days with workout times, according to track clockers, averaging nearly a full second slower the past several mornings than over the weekend.


Wednesday morning also marked the first local appearance of likely Derby favorite Eskendereya and his stablemate Devil May Care, who remains under consideration for both the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.


Lookin At Lucky (six furlongs in 1:12.01): The first workout worthy of true Work of the Day honors since my arrival here Monday. With exercise rider Dana Barnes aboard, Lookin At Lucky broke off at the five-furlong pole about five or six lengths behind stablemate Broken Tango, who maintained most of that margin through an opening quarter in 23.92 seconds. But seemingly in the blink of an eye, Lookin At Lucky made up the entire gap, readily overtaking his workmate entering the stretch after posting an 11.63 split from the three-eighths to the quarter pole while breezing about four or five paths out from the rail. From that point on, Lookin at Lucky was long gone, completing five-eighths to the wire in 59.58 while under little urging before continuing on strongly around the turn to gallop out seven furlongs in 1:25.08 and double gallop out a mile in 1:39.70!

Trainer Bob Baffert has maintained all along that Lookin At Lucky was a much better horse over dirt than the artificial surfaces he's spent the majority of his career on, and from today's stiff drill it's hard to argue with that statement. I particularly liked the very quick turn of foot he displayed nearing the stretch that came from almost imperceptible prompting by his rider and the ability to subsequently sustain a strong pace in the long run down the home straight. It's a combination of speed and stamina that usually serves a horse well in a race like the Kentucky Derby.

Conveyance (five furlongs in 58.76): Fast horses tend to work fast, so this type of move should probably come as no surprise, although it might have been a little quicker than Baffert would have liked. With Calvin Borel aboard, Conveyance came away from the five-furlong pole running, posting internal fractions of 23.20 for the opening quarter, 34.42 for three-eighths, and 46.36 for the half before tiring just a bit under some mild encouragement to complete his final furlong in 12.40. He then galloped out six panels in 1:12.16 to the seven-eighths pole. Looks sharp but I would have preferred to have seen him relax just a bit more considering the daunting task that awaits: carrying this speed 10 furlongs on Derby Day.

Homeboykris (six furlongs in 1:14.48): Wasted little time getting right down to business after shipping to town from south Florida less than 24 hours earlier. With Julien Leparoux aboard, Homeboykris came away from the six-furlong pole at a relatively leisurely pace, getting his opening quarter in 25.21 and half in 50.20 before completing a final quarter in a respectable 24.28 without undue urging. He then galloped out seven-eighths in a modest 1:28.04. This colt never really progressed from his 2-year-old to 3-year-old campaign and he didn't show enough today to make one think that type of breakthrough performance will be forthcoming in the Derby.

Eskendereya galloped an easy 1 1/4 miles and appeared a bit distracted by his new surroundings while not displaying the type of aggressiveness I've seen and liked from his stablemate Super Saver during his post-break gallops thus far this week. This morning's effort comes on the heels of an efficient but very unspectacular work at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida last Saturday. Future gallops and a weekend workout will be eagerly anticipated.