10/03/2009 11:00PM

Lookin at Lucky takes next step

Charles Pravata/Eclipse Sportswire
Lookin at Lucky brings a perfect 3-for-3 record into Sunday's Grade 1 Norfolk.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Perfect after three starts, Lookin at Lucky will be the focus of Sunday's $300,000 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. He is the race favorite, California's leading 2-year-old, and a colt trying two turns for the first time at a pivotal point of the season.

Another victory by Lookin at Lucky, to go with sprint stakes victories in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar, will make him an even stronger contender for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

To trainer Bob Baffert, the colt's recent wins seem like a prologue of what Lookin at Lucky could accomplish Sunday and in coming months.

"He's starting to realize what this is about," Baffert said. "He's level-headed. He's got ability and a good attitude."

The Norfolk is the leading California prep for the BC Juvenile. Sunday's nine-race program at Santa Anita also features the $300,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, the leading prep on this circuit for the $2 million BC Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 6. Both are Breeders' Cup Win and You're In races.

Lookin at Lucky is part of a field of 12 in the Grade 1 Norfolk, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. Owned by the partnership of Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, Lookin at Lucky will be making his first start beyond seven furlongs.

His running style and breeding certainly suggest a longer race will be within range. By Smart Strike, Lookin at Lucky rallied from seventh of nine in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs to win by a length, taking the lead in the final furlong.

"I've never worried about that with him," Baffert said.

Lookin at Lucky will be ridden by regular rider Garrett Gomez.

"I think he and Garrett are a good match - a good horse and a good rider," Baffert said.

Gomez will have Lookin at Lucky off the pace for the first half of the race. He will likely be stalking Sterling Outlook, who finished fourth in the Del Mar Futurity; Gallant Gent, who won the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes over seven furlongs at Fairplex Park on Sept. 16; and Seattle Ruler, who won the Barretts Juvenile Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex Park on Sept. 20.

Among the others in the field are Jung Man Scott, second in the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Saratoga on Sept. 4, and John Scott, winner of the six-furlong I'm Smokin Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar on Sept. 7.

John Scott could have started in Saturday's California Cup Juvenile, but trainer Carla Gaines said the colt deserves a chance in the tougher Norfolk Stakes.

"We're hoping for more than that," she said of the California Cup. "He looked so impressive running against California-breds. He has a long, sustained run."

Three recent maiden race winners at Del Mar are making their first start in stakes - Alfarabi, who won a one-mile turf race on Aug. 28; the highly regarded Dave in Dixie, who won a sprint on Aug. 29; and Pulsion, the winner of a one-mile main-track race on Sept. 5.

Pulsion was sixth behind Lookin at Lucky in a maiden race at Hollywood Park in July, but has improved considerably since that start. He breaks from the outside post in the Norfolk.

"He's maturing," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "Now, we have to overcome the draw. He's not as seasoned as horses that have run at this level. We expect him to improve again."

Dave in Dixie closed from eighth in his maiden win, which was his debut, giving trainer John Sadler confidence in a longer race.

"The thing I like is that he's a natural distance horse," Sadler said. "It's not like he'll have a hard time with the distance. He's pretty smart."

Sadler also entered Hurricane Ike, who was fifth in the Del Mar Futurity. He said the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 10 is an option for Hurricane Ike.