Smart and Lucky Make a Great Combination

Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky, who was 2009's champion 2-year-old male, should teach shoppers at Thoroughbred auctions an important lesson, according to Jerry Bailey.

"It says to me that when people are buying horses, they should look for reasons to buy a horse rather than for reasons not to buy a horse," said the Florida horseman.

Bailey and Utah horseman Lance Robinson are the managing partners of Gulf Coast Farms, which bred the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike.

In 2008, Lookin At Lucky was a $35,000 buy-back at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Buyers weren't interested in the bay colt for a number of reasons, Bailey said.

Lookin At Lucky had undergone stifle surgery and signs of old OCD lesions and a divot could be seen on radiographs. He had mild sesamoidits, and there were mid-saggital ridge lucencies in his front ankles. His pasterns were a little long and soft. His feet were narrow, and one front foot was smaller than the other. Some people described the smaller foot as a "club foot." He also wasn't very pretty, Robinson remembered.

In other words, Lookin At Lucky wasn't perfect.

The following year, "he was still the same horse; he still had the same deficiences. But he performed great on the racetrack," Bailey said.

Lookin At Lucky worked an eighth of a mile in :10 prior to the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training, and on the same day, his half-brother, Kensei, who would go on to become a grade II winner, won an allowance/optional claiming event at Oaklawn Park.

Mike Pegram purchased the colt for $475,000 from Bailey's sales agency, with trainer Bob Baffert giving the OK in spite of the colt's physical abnormalities.

"Baffert is pretty good at overlooking some of these things if he likes the horse," Bailey said.

Will the saga of Lookin At Lucky make buyers less picky? It probably won't make a significant difference. But maybe one or two will think a little harder before they turn down a young horse tick every single box on X-rays and conformation.

Some people might say Pegram and Baffert were lucky. But Bailey would say they were smart.

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