December 18, 2009

A Little Luck and a Whole Lot of Talent

You ever get the feeling that all the luck in the world is by your side and you can not possibly lose? No…well then, maybe you should make a beeline for the left coast. This weekend at Hollywood Park, all racing fans are in store for a double dose of excellent luck.

All eyes will be on Lookin at Lucky this Saturday, as he attempts to solidify his standing as the top two-year-old in the nation. Lucky will deservingly be the heavy favorite in the field of eight lining up for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity. The Futurity is traditionally the last major race for the juvenile set, and over the years has produced an impressive roll call of victors, including Roving Boy, Snow Chief, Best Pal, A.P. Indy, Point Given and Declan‘s Moon. Lookin at Lucky is primed to become another big name on the list and clinch a 2009 Eclipse Award. The familiar pair of owner, Mike Pegram, and trainer, Bob Baffert bring the beautiful bay son of Smart Strike to Hollywood with a record of four wins and one unlucky (no pun intended) 2nd in five starts. If not for a very wide trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Lookin at Lucky would sport an unblemished record and be trying to complete one of the best juvenile seasons in many years. A season that already includes wins in the Best Pal, Del Mar Futurity, and Norfolk, should become even more padded with a win on Saturday.

Photo Courtesy and Property of Marti Guzman

Standing in opposition to Lookin at Lucky, will be seven other colts, led by Noble’s Promise. The Ken McPeek runner will be the clear second choice in the betting and is coming off an excellent 3rd in the BC Juvenile, where he finished right behind Lookin at Lucky. The two-time stakes winner has run consistently well in five starts and his connections still have hopes for a championship if the son of Cuvee can get the job done on Saturday. I still have doubts about his ability to be a true distance horse, but he has proven tough at the Futurity distance of 1 1/16 miles. Of the rest, longshot Wildlee Special ships in from New Jersey and may be more talented than he looks on paper. With all due respect to Noble’s Promise and the rest of the field, I see this race to be fully at Lookin at Lucky’s mercy, and would be surprised to see anyone but him and rider Garrett Gomez sauntering into the Hollywood Park winner’s circle. There will be many hurdles to clear in Lookin at Lucky’s future, but Saturday will prove no stumbling block culminating his championship season.

Sunday’s Hollywood Starlet boasts a loaded field of seven juvenile fillies. Blind Luck, just a few short months ago, was an unheralded daughter of the sight-challenged, freshman sire Pollard’s Vision, and running in a maiden claiming race at Calder. She won that race by more than 13 lengths and has been climbing the ranks of the two-year-old fillies ever since. Blind Luck was an impressive winner of her first try at two turns in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf and she followed that up with a fine performance in the Breeders’ Cup, where she steadied on the first turn and tried hard down the lane to finish 3rd, beaten less than one length. Blind Luck will have the service of top rider Rafael Bejarano for the first time, and is my pick to snare the Starlet. Her off the pace style should be well suited for the fast early fractions set by a few of her main rivals on Sunday.

Blind Luck will have to be at her very best to win though, as each of the other six fillies has the potential to be a grade 1 winner. Chief among them is Beautician, a physically impressive, gray daughter of Dehere. Beautician ran a bang-up race in the BC Juvenile Fillies, as she split horses and finished second best, while one bettering my pick Blind Luck. A non-winner since her maiden win, Beautician seems too good to have her losing streak continue for much longer. Bickersons, meanwhile was not one of the many competitive runners in the Juvenile Fillies, but she returned from that disappointing 10th place finish, with an eye-catching, front-running score in the 7 furlong Moccasin Stakes over this same strip four weeks ago. Her speed will get a better test Sunday, as the grass loving Rose Catherine figures to contest the early lead. Rose Catherine has been most impressive since switching from dirt to turf, and if she can carry that class over to Hollywood’s synthetic surface, will prove a major threat.

Good luck to all and enjoy Hollywood Park’s excellent pair of juvenile grade 1 stakes. I will be calling Hollywood to find out if I can wager on a most lucky daily double.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck ZATT!!

LDP said...

I agree with both picks. LAL is as close as a cinch can get in racing, IMO.