11/06/2009 12:00AM

Lookin at Lucky stuck in unlucky 13


ARCADIA, Calif. - The $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile was never going to be easy for unbeaten Lookin at Lucky, but no one expected it to be this hard.

Lookin at Lucky enters the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile with a perfect record, three graded stakes, and Grade 1 form going two turns on Pro-Ride. So why isn't he the biggest cinch on the Saturday card? Because Lookin at Lucky starts from the parking lot - post 13 in a 13-horse field.

"I don't like it," trainer Bob Baffert stated. "It is going to be tough."

The past two years since Santa Anita went synthetic, posts 12-13 are a combined 0 for 28 at 1 1/16 miles.

While the challenge facing Lookin at Lucky is obvious, the race is not easy for his rivals, either. New York sprinter D' Funnybone is stretching to two turns and going dirt to synthetic; Pulsion has trained slowly since finishing second in the Norfolk; Group 1 winners Alfred Nobel and Beethoven are at the end of a long European season.

Along with Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity winner Noble's Promise, stakes-caliber Aikenite and Eskenderya, and highly regarded Euro shippers Radiohead and Vale of York, the 2009 Juvenile is one of the most internationally flavored in the history of the event.

Despite the post, Lookin at Lucky is the one to beat. "If they're marginal, it's tougher" to win from an outside post," Baffert said. "If they are good, they can overcome it."

Lookin at Lucky is very good. He started with a debut win in July and continued with stakes, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. He extended his win streak to four with a professional victory Oct. 4 in the Grade 1 Norfolk, the Smart Strike colt's first start around two turns.

Baffert said he believes Lookin at Lucky is something special, perhaps one of the best young horses he has trained in years. He will have to be to win the Juvenile from post 13 under Garrett Gomez.

"Garrett is going to have to put up one of his patented rides," Baffert said.

While Lookin at Lucky has won races by an average of only slightly more than a length, his main rival has been winning in blowout fashion. D' Funnybone won successive Grade 2's in New York by a combined margin of more than 15 lengths, and trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. is confident the horse will fire while stretching out and switching surfaces.

"When we first got him, his workouts were very slow, we used to have to put in company," Dutrow said. "Now, we can't stop him. It's like he's possessed."

D' Funnybone will be forwardly placed, and could set the pace under Edgar Prado. In early October, most front-runners got swallowed by Pro-Ride. But the past two weeks the track has tightened and speed has carried. Six of the last 13 races at the distance (through Sunday) were won wire to wire.

The best longshot bomber in the Juvenile field has lost 3 of 4. That is Pulsion, an improving son of Include who finished second behind Lookin at Lucky in the Norfolk.

Patrick Biancone trains Pulsion, whose slow recent workouts will help inflate his price.

"He's very lazy," Biancone said. "He's a real mile-and-a-quarter horse; he goes 12-12-12. He will be a better horse in December, and he will be a better horse in the spring."

Mike Smith rides Pulsion, whose improving race performances and high odds make him an attractive possibility from the back of the field.

Noble's Promise is in from Kentucky, where he won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 10 at Keeneland. "He's a small-bodied horse and an overachiever," trainer Ken McPeek said.

He considered starting Noble's Promise out in a maiden-claiming race. Instead, he finished second in a maiden special-weight at Keeneland, then reeled off wins at Ellis Park, Presque Isle Downs, and Keeneland.

"He's not an obvious horse as far as pedigree; his pedigree says one-turn sprinter," McPeek said. "But he keeps jumping though the hoops."

Noble's Promise has recovered from a leg infection that caused him to miss a workout two weeks ago.

Aiden O'Brien trains the top Europeans Beethoven and Alfred Nobel. The addition of blinkers allowed Beethoven to score a 33-1 upset Oct. 17 in the Group 1 Dewhurst.

"When we put visors on him, it was a revelation," O'Brien said.

It was Beethoven's 10th start. O'Brien said he "was only doing half speed until we put the visor on him."

Alfred Nobel has won 3 of 7.