12/05/2008 12:00AM

One Lucky Buck likely on the lead


One Lucky Buck will have a new look Sunday when he seeks his second straight stakes win at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., in the $200,000 Distance Championship Handicap. He will add blinkers for the 1 1/8-mile race following a clear win in the $55,000 Veterans in his last start, Nov.o8.

"He wants to drift out on the turns a little bit, and in the stretch in his last race he drifted, so after that race we decided to train him in blinkers," said Bart Hone, who trains One Lucky Buck for Adam and Paul Lewis. "It's kept him from drifting. He's training very good."

The Distance Championship card also includes the $120,000 Eddy County Stakes. They are the final stakes of the Zia meet, which concludes Tuesday.

One Lucky Buck has won three of his last four starts and could start as a slight favorite in a field of nine in the Distance Championship. The race has drawn a mix of shippers and locals. Tap Dancing Mauk, the two-time defending champ, is in from Churchill Downs, while Won Awesome Dude last raced at Suffolk, finishing a distant second to Commentator in the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap.

Star of Navarone, the winner of last year's $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park, adds further depth to the field, while Oklahoma Derby winner Golden Yank is also entered but expected to run instead in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby on Saturday.

One Lucky Buck is perfect at Zia, with his other win at the meet coming in an optional claiming race at 1o1/16 miles on Oct. 20. He wired the field, just as he did in the $60,000 Ruidoso Thoroughbred Championship in September. In his last start, the Veterans, he stalked the pace before drawing clear by 3o3/4 lengths for a Beyer Figure of 91.

"Last time he surprised me just a little bit," said Hone. "He broke good and a couple of them wanted the lead and he just let them have it."

Hone, who has given the mount to Mark Villa, is closing out an outstanding Zia meet. He is atop the standings with 21 wins from 49 starts, a 43 percent win rate.

The chief threat to One Lucky Buck could be Won Awesome Dude, who won the $142,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at 1 1/8 miles at Canterbury on Aug. 2. He next faced Commentator in the Mass Cap, earning a Beyer Figure of 87 for his runner-up finish. Mike Mareina trains Won Awesome Dude, who is co-highweighted with One Lucky Buck at 119 pounds. Casey Lambert has the mount.

Tap Dancing Mauk was fourth in a $40,000 claiming race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 8, his first start since March. A.J. Juarez has the mount for trainer Dale Romans.

* The undefeated Lefty Who will attempt to win his fourth straight race in the Eddy County, a one-mile race for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico. Lefty Who will be making his two-turn debut following a win in the New Mexico Cup Colts and Geldings at six furlongs at Zia on Nov. 9. Carlos Madeira has the mount for trainer Joel Marr.