August 1, 2010

Major Moves Within the Three-Year-Old Division

Is there any doubt as to who the top three-year-old in the nation is now? I don’t think so. It was an absolute cakewalk for Lookin at Lucky today in the Grade 1 Haskell. It seems to be as simple as get a good ride, and Lucky does the rest. After all, he has never lost a race in which he received a good trip.

On paper it looked like Lucky was the horse to beat going in to the Haskell, but few thought it would be this easy. Considered to be one of the deepest fields of the year, the Haskell Invitational was supposed to be a race where someone would step up and announce themselves as the leader of the division. Mission accomplished. Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky received a perfect stalking trip on the outside by rider Martin Garcia, and effortlessly ranged up on leaders Super Saver and First Dude on the far turn. The race was all but over as Garcia used motionless hands to guide Lucky to the lead. From there only the margin of victory was in doubt as Lookin at Lucky rolled powerfully home about four lengths clear of second place finisher, Trappe Shot.

The juvenile champion of 2009 has firmly grasped hold of divisional leadership looking for another year-end honor, and it will take an awful lot for any horse to knock him off that lofty spot. If Lookin at Lucky wants to clinch the Eclipse in his next start, one of the horses he will have to deal with in the Travers is the impressive Jim Dandy winner.

A Little Warm appeared ready through for a breakthrough performance, and that is precisely what he delivered yesterday in the half million dollar Jim Dandy Stakes. Just as he had done in a recent allowance at Delaware Park, A Little Warm chased Miner’s Reserve through a strong early pace. Collaring his rival, as the two colts straightened out for home, the son of Stormin Fever proved too much down the lane and registered a 1 3/4-length victory. Final time for the race was a snappy 1:47 and 4/5, which is only 3/5 off the stakes record set 14 years ago by classic winner Louis Quatorze. A Little Warm earned his first graded stakes win in the nine furlong, grade 2 Travers prep for trainer Tony Dutrow and owner-breeder Edward P. Evans.

He now sports an impressive record for 2010, with three wins and two seconds from only five starts, after winning his final start in 2009 by more than ten lengths. A Little Warm will put his ability to the ultimate test in four weeks time in the Mid-Summer Derby, where he will try to become the ninth Jim Dandy winner to go on to win the Travers. The double was most recently completed by champion Street Sense in 2007. The ten furlong distance will be an eighth of a mile longer than he has yet attempted, but with this kind of win over the track going in, A Little Warm should be one of the ones to beat in the prestigious Travers.  But then again, there is a horse named Lucky.

Photo by Cecilia G. Felix


LDP said...

Ooooo, the match ups at the Spa just got better. LAL looked fantastic, as did Winslow Homer today and ALW yesterday. The Travers should be one heck of a race.

Brian Zipse said...

Dutrow had a nice weekend at the Spa, but his two will be hard pressed to handle Lucky.

Brian Appleton said...

Your wording was so great in this post Brian, if I hadn't seen the race I would have been able to feel through your words how effortless and impressive Lookin At Lucky was.

I loved the Haskell, Lucky finally got to show how good he truly was and romped! I really hope he goes to the Travers and doesn't head back west.

What do you think of his chances in the Classic if he makes it there this year? I'm liking his chances a lot right now.

Brian Zipse said...

Thanks Brian ... Looks like the Travers is not in the cards, after a slight fever post Haskell. He will be back soon though. This was a big step forward, but as far as the Classic, I do not have him rated quite as high as Rachel, Zen, Quality, and Blame.