November 21, 2010

Lookin at Lucky Poised to Join Elite Company

1905 - Sysonby
1908 - Colin
1910 - Sweep
1920 - Man O’ War
1923 - Zev
1928 - Reigh Count
1934 - Cavalcade
1940 - Bimelech
1942 - Alsab
1943 - Count Fleet
1948 - Citation
1950 - Hill Prince
1953 - Native Dancer
1955 - Nashua
1956 - Needles
1966 - Buckpasser
1973 - Secretariat
1977 - Seattle Slew
1978 - Affirmed
1979 - Spectacular Bid

20 Impressive horses. Soon you can add the name of Lookin at Lucky to that esteemed list. His accomplishments of 2010 have all but made him a shoo-in for his second Eclipse Award, thus becoming the first horse in 31 years to parlay a juvenile championship with a repeat award at three-years-old. Hard to believe, but no horse since Spectacular Bid has been able to turn the trick … until Lookin at Lucky that is. Further investigation into this list of horses who were able to wrap up the double, displays a veritable who’s who of American racing. From Man O’ War to Secretariat, from Citation to Seattle Slew, this is an accomplished group. In fact, 19 of these 20 stars also found there way into racing’s Hall of Fame, with only Sweep being denied.  In becoming lucky number 21 to complete the deal, Lookin at Lucky has carved out a place for himself in the record books, but how will he be remembered?

I believe his legacy will be one that improves over time. He was unlucky often, and he ran into a couple of older buzz saws in Blame and Zenyatta in his finale, but he proved as consistent as they come. It is hard not to like a horse who fires every shot. Did the winner of eight grade 1 or grade 2 stakes races in only 13 lifetime starts retire before his time? Yes, but that is an article for another day. For now, I will send off the son of Smart Strike to retirement with this singular thought ... Is he Hall of Fame material? Lookin at History, I say Yes to Lookin at Lucky.


darlene said...

too soon to the shed Would love to have seen a 4 yr old season But he has his accomplishments and here's hoping he sires some Luckier babies

hawkwins said...

...I have a feeling he will be the best sire of hia crop, as well.

Best Horse Gifts said...

Really wanted another season from this horse - I don't think we saw the best of him. Looking forward to some fun names from his babes!

Sharon M said...

It is disappointing for most of us that he's retiring. I think he was our best shot for a "3peat" in quite a while! And possibly a HOTY on top of that. At least he's retired injury free (that we know of) and I have no doubt he'll be a success at stud. I'm not one of those who'll be condemning the owners for this decision. Yes, it's about the money, but I know very well how bad the economy still is no matter what some "economist" says about it. I see it every month just trying to make payroll in my own small business. This misconception that it's all about "greed" is very naive. It's about overhead costs and staying afloat.

Bob said...

I have a lot of respect for what he did in his career. Just wish he had the opportunity to prove himself against older horses before he retired.

ja.raymond said...

..Which pisses me off that he was retired! He should have been allowed to run for his 4yo yr! :(
I know he would have gotten a couple more big ones, at least.

Brian Zipse said...

Sounds like we are all in agreement ... we wanted him back for another year, and I will write about that soon enough, but let's not forget about his accomplishment. That is what today's column is about.

Ian Lozada said...

Brian, he's a 3yo champ by attrition, not by dominance. Never beat older horses, didn't win the Juvenile, the Kentucky Derby, or the BC Classic, didn't even win his circuit's major Derby prep. Yeah, he won the Preakness, but so what? He just doesn't have the type of resume that says he should be listed among the greatest who ever loaded into a gate.

Brian Zipse said...

Ian, I did not editorialize at all as far as including him with these other horses on this list. He has earned his place there simply by being a 2y.o. and 3y.o. champion. As the 31 year drought would attest, this is clearly not an easy feat. Will he enter the Hall of Fame, I think is the real question. 19 of the 20 before him have made the cut.

Ian Lozada said...

So you're going to give Hall of Fame credentials based on the weakest 3yo Championship campaign since Skip Away? Except Summer Bird, every 3yo champion since then has either won either 2 legs of the Triple Crown, or the Breeders Cup Classic, and even Summer Bird won a Belmont, the Travers and a Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he beat older horses.

If Lucky looks subpar in that company, why would you say he belongs in the elite of the elite? You put him in and you really water down the Hall of Fame. If you lined up the best 3yos of his own crop, you wouldn't automatically say that everyone else was just running for second place. He just doesn't pass the smell test.

Brian, I know you want to celebrate the game with every post, but sometimes, you're just way too uncritical. Stuff like this just comes off like rah rah sis boom bah.

Brian Zipse said...

Insult me if you please Ian, but I would rather look at things objectively.

Lookin at Lucky has had a two-year career that stacks up nicely against the 3yo champs of the past 10 seasons. Accomplishment wise, Curlin was the best, and after that, Point Given, Afleet Alex, and Lookin at Lucky all have similar type statistics. Comparing the career resume of Lookin at Lucky against Summer Bird is an easy win for Lucky. Summer Bird will not get into the Hall of Fame, I believe Lookin at Lucky will.

dunewood o'neil said...

definitely belongs in this company;but, of all the retirees, most disappointed he didn't return!

Mike in SB said...

Although he is one of my favoite horses this year, I don't think Lucky will be in the Hall of Fame.
He is the classic "What might have been" horse. With better racing luck and a chance to prove himself against older horses as a 4 yr. old, I think he would have been considered a great horse and a sure Hall of Fame horse, but not based on his record today.

Stephanie Lambert said...

I have loved Lucky since he first stepped onto a track, he deserves EVERY honor , he is all class, guts and courage....

SaratogaSpa said...

Always competes, always in the hunt, really thought he would be a great 4 year old, oh well

Anonymous said...

There are many horses not in the Hall Of Fame who are more deserving than Lookin At Lucky. One of them was trained by my good friend Mel Stute and resided in my hometown until his death: Snow Chief. Like Lookin At Lucky, Snow Chief was an awesome 2 year old. His 3 year old year was even better, having swept the El Camino Real Derby, The Florida Derby, AND the Santa Anita Derby he was the heavy favorite to win the Derby. Like Lucky, he ran an uninspiring race. Also like Lucky, he exacted revenge on the Derby winner Ferdinand, beating him soundly by 4 lengths. Like Lucky, Snow chief also skipped the Belmont. Just 9 days after the Preakness, The Chief easily won the Jersey Derby defeating champion 2 year old Tasso. As a 4 year old, he defeated his old rival Ferdinand again by a nose in the Strub. In April of that year, he won the Oaklawn Handicap in a time of 1:46 3/5, breaking both the stakes and track record. Since then, nobody has even come close to that record. Snow Chief faced Ferdinand 9 times and finished in front of him 6 times. Ferdinand, as you know Brian, beat Alysheba in the Breeder's Cup Classic and was voted Horse of the Year. Snow Chief bested this horse in 2/3s of their meetings. If Lookin At Lucky is going to get into the Hall Of Fame, he needs to wait in line behind a much more deserving candidate. Hail to The Chief!

Brian Zipse said...

Snow Chief is a solid call, and somewhat of a good comparison to Lucky. Some factors in Lucky's favor ... Snow Chief did lose 11 times (out of 24) including 6 of his last 8. And despite racing over 3 seasons, he won the same amount of graded stakes as Lucky (8), and of course had one less Eclipse Award. Having said that, I expect that Snow Chief will get in some day, and deservingly so. Both of them will.