10/02/2010 6:58PM

Lookin At Lucky makes up ton of ground to take Indiana Derby

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Hoosier Park
Lookin At Lucky gets up to win the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

ANDERSON, Ind. – Lookin At Lucky might have given his connections and backers a little scare, but the colt proved his class Saturday when he rallied from well back to capture the 16th running of the Grade 2, $510,900 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

After jockey Martin Garcia kept him far off the pace set by longshot Indy Bull, then Thiskyhasnolimit, the field finally started coming back to Lookin At Lucky. Down the stretch, the colt reeled in the last one, Thiskyhasnolimit, to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths and notch his ninth victory in 12 career starts.

“Did I think he’d be that far back? No,” said Mike Pegram, who co-owns Lookin At Lucky with Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. “But I really wasn’t ever worried. He’s an athlete.”

Lookin At Lucky was making his first start since he won the Aug. 1 Haskell Invitational to become the clear-cut leader of the North American 3-year-old division. A son of Smart Strike, Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness prior to the Haskell. He was the first winner of a Triple Crown event ever to race in the state of Indiana.

Lookin At Lucky returned $2.80 as the huge favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds. He finished the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.40.

Lookin At Lucky will head to Churchill Downs as one of the top contenders for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6. He is scheduled to return Monday to Hollywood Park in Southern California to train until the week of the Breeders’ Cup, said trainer Bob Baffert.

On a gray afternoon, and over a sloppy racetrack, 91-1 shot Indy Bull sped off to the early lead, then was challenged by Worldly as they turned into the backstretch. With about a half-mile to go, Thiskyisnolimit took over, and after turning for home, he still had an open lead while Lookin At Lucky, who had been eighth entering the first turn, still had five horses to pass.

Garcia swung Lookin At Lucky widest of all leaving the turn, and the colt came charging home to prove clearly best, much to the delight of a sizable ontrack crowd.

“What a horse,” said Baffert, who won the Indiana Derby last year with Misremembered and therefore became the first trainer to win the Hoosier showcase in back-to-back years. “He just wants to win. It was a great race. This is the type of horse he really is.”

After Thiskyhasnolimit, who was the 6-1 second choice and the only other graded stakes winner in the field, St. Maximus Gato ran third, followed by Worldly, Litigation Risk, Uareoutlaw, Indy Bull, Nacho Friend, and Dabossman.

Lookin At Lucky, bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, earned $294,278, taking his career bankroll to $3,007,278. He was the Eclipse champion in his division last year and remains an obvious choice for divisional honors in 2010.

A $2 daily double that led off with Always a Princess ($6.80), winner of the Indiana Oaks for Garcia and Baffert, and ended with Lookin At Lucky returned a mere $7.