Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

No Such Thing As Luck

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 4, 2010

Well the preps have been run and the results are in. One favorite continues his towering journey of greatness to the Kentucky Derby while another continues to plow courageously through increasingly horrible trips and still prove he is the real deal.


Eskendereya does not kid around. When he runs against good horses, he runs them into the ground and then takes off to do his real running from there. Anyone watching the live coverage of the Wood Memorial could see that Eskendereya was a breathtaking specimen of strength, presence and calm in the paddock and during the post parade. He looked the part of a winner and in this case, looks meant everything. After breaking sharply along with Most Happy Fella and Jackson Bend, he settled nicely for jockey John Velazquez behind those two into the backstretch. Gotham Stakes winner Awesome Act ran at the rear of the 6 horse field and began to move up as they came out of the backstretch. Into the final turn Eskendereya moved up eagerly with no encouragement from Valezquez and gradually took the lead with Jackson Bend right at his neck. From the rear Awesome Act flew up to be just behind the front three. Swinging into the turn, Eskenereya proceeded with the utmost ease to make a mockery of one of the finest fields assembled this year in a Derby prep. He opened up by 3 lengths, then 5, Valezques still sitting as cool as a cucumber, throwing the occasional glance back to see if there was anyone coming. There wasn’t. At the wire he finished more than 9 lengths ahead of second place finisher Jackson Bend while appearing completely at ease. There is no doubt that this horse still has a full tank, leaving plenty for the Kentucky Derby. The scary thing is that he seems to still be improving if that is possible.

Mention must be made of Jackson Bend here who earned a berth in the Kentucky Derby with his gritty second place finish. I was initially rooting for him to win the Wood, but it was impossible to be disappointed with the results. Eskendereya was stunning in victory and Jackson Bend deserves a lot of respect off his 3rd consecutive 2nd place finish. He certainly proved to me that he can get the distance. There have only been 2 horses that ever beat this colt; Eskendereya and Winslow Homer.

Is it just me, or has Lookin At Lucky been handed a lousy deck of cards this year. First off he comes out on top in the Rebel after what has to be one of the worst trips for a Kentucky Derby contender so far this year. Then he heads back

Sidney's Candy

home to California to contest the Santa Anita Derby in what should have been an easy tune up prior to his run in the Kentucky Derby. Not only was it the worst trip I have seen this entire year, it is one of the worst trips I have ever seen a young colt go through, regardless of the year. At the break Lookin At Lucky broke well and shot right out of the gate. Before he had gone halfway to the first turn, jockey Garrett Gomez took a sharp hold of Lucky and forced him to squeeze back behind Caracortado. Around the first turn Gomez finally stopped fighting him and proceeded to guide him into the worst possible spot he could find. Down on the inside in third behind Who’s Up and eventual winner and pacesetter Sidney’s Candy. Into the far turn the entire field began to close quickly and Lookin At Lucky became completely boxed in with nowhere to go. Then to make matters worse, Victor Espinoza on Who’s Up drove his mount right into Lookin At Lucky, forcing him hard into the rail. Lookin At Lucky immediately lost all momentum he had begun to gain and dropped back to 7th as the field entered the home stretch. In front Sidney’s Candy was opening up on the field and

Lookin At Lucky

charging hard for the wire. Lookin At Lucky amazingly gathered himself together again, reaccelerated and drove through an opening on the inside rail with determination. He was closing relentlessly when Sidney’s Candy hit the wire, but it wasn’t enough. He took third behind a fast-closing Setsuko. Lookin At Lucky’s “bump” from Who’s Up was so bad that jockey Paul Atkinson on Caracortado, traveling just behind Lookin At Lucky, said he thought Lucky was going to fall. The incident also ruined any chance Caracortado had of winning the race as he had to be pulled up sharply when Lookin At Lucky got bumped. Bob Baffert, trainer of Lookin At Lucky was very upset at the ride Gomez gave his colt and isn’t sure whether or not he will replace him for the Derby. Sidney’s Candy was terrific in winning after overcoming a slight stumble at the start. The second favorite led from gate-to-wire while finishing 4 ½ lengths clear of the field. My final word on the Santa Anita Derby is this: the best horse lost.

Don’t give up on Lookin At Lucky just yet. There was no possible way anyone could have expected him to win this race with the trip he received. Trainer Bob Baffert will be doing his utmost to have him in better condition than any other horse on the planet come Derby day, you can bet on that. I still believe he is the best 3 year old in the nation.


3 Responses to “No Such Thing As Luck”

  1. Carla Ruth said

    I agree that Lookin at Lucky had a bad trip, but at best I think he would only have gotten second. Sydney’s Candy is not getting the respect that he deserves. That said, I believe that Lookin at Lucky is a major Kentucky Derby contender. I also think that Baffert would be making a big mistake if he replaces Gomez!

    • Hi Carla,
      Maybe, but he’s proven time and again that with a good clean trip he never, ever losses. He was gaining a lot of ground after that incident, which was miraculous in itself, so you have to believe he would have kept gaining momentum. Sidney’s Candy is a nice horse, but I don’t think he would have been able to hold off Lookin At Lucky had he been given a good run.
      I’m not so sure it would be a good idea to take Gomez off Lookin At Lucky either. He’s done a great job on him so far, I think he was just trying to be over-protective in the Santa Anita Derby because he was riding “the Bull’s-Eye”.
      I’m looking forward to when you start blogging again!

      • Carla Ruth said

        Hey Brian,

        I agree that Lookin at Lucky was gaining ground and he is an awesome horse. In fact my order of the top 3 Kentucky Derby contenders was Lookin at Lucky, Eskendereya, Sidney’s Candy. (I usually don’t like front runners in the Derby, in fact I never had Old Fashioned or Conveyance in my top 10.) But now I think that Sidney’s Candy needs to be at the top for a couple of reasons. He looks looks like he can run all day, and as my husband pointed out SA is not even a speed favoring track and he’s been whooping up on his competition there. We’ll see the first Saturday in May! Also don’t forget that I’m partial to Candy Ride offspring!

        Thanks for the blogging support, I’ve been working on some projects lately, but something tells me I might be motivated to blog after the Apple Blossom!

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