'Lookin at' the Derby Winner? Baffert Cautiously Optimistic

We're still three and a half months away from the Kentucky Derby, and as everyone knows, a lot can happen between now and then. But acknowledging that, you would be hard-pressed to find many that would say Lookin at Lucky is not the solid favorite at this point.

Lookin at Lucky has won five of six with his only loss coming by a head in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after having to break from post 13. He is well bred, has the nations top rider, and his trainer knows as well as anyone how to win the Derby. And last week, the colt seemed to take another step forward with the addition of blinkers.

Again, it is still January, but it would be foolish not to find out all we could about the leading Derby contender. Baffert, always gracious and forthcoming in an interview, took the time to answer my questions about his 3-year-old star.


JS: Everyone seems to be talking about Looking at Lucky, so I thought I'd ask you a few questions.

BB: How come nobody is asking me about the Eclipse Awards? You know, I am nominated for the trainer award.

JS: I think you're a longshot in that one though. Are you even going to go?

BB: Yeah. I like it when I know I'm not going to win. I can relax and have a good time.

JS: I hope you pull off a shocker. As far as Lookin at Lucky, the big buzz now is that you worked him in blinkers the other day (Jan. 9) and he apparently responded to it well. What's the deal?

BB: We thought about blinkers for a while with him but he won all those races in a row and it was hard to make that change. We would've been taking a chance, especially with the 2-year-old championship being on the line at Hollywood (in the CashCall Futurity). In that race, the pace was so slow that he found himself of the lead, kind of like the Norfolk, and he shut it down when he got it. Garrett tried to encourage him and he just wouldn't go.

After that I decided to try (blinkers). Garrett usually never works the horse but I asked him to this time. He came back really excited. Usually he'll throw his ears up when he goes by the other horse, but when Garrett squeezed on him this time he stayed focused and found an extra gear.

JS: You said he was the best 2-year-old you had in quite some time. Now that he's 3, how would you rate him, and who can you compare him to?

BB: He's still so young so it's hard to compare him. He still has a growth spurt left in him. But I like horses like him that have tactical speed. He isn't one-dimensional. He can sit and pounce and has enough speed to stay out of trouble. Silver Charm and Real Quiet were like that. They could relax but if you asked them, they would go. Those kinds of horses have an advantage in the Derby.

JS: I guess with his pedigree (Smart Strike-Private Feeling, by Belong to Me) you don't have many concerns about whether he can get the distance?

BB: I can tell the first time a horse goes two turns whether they can handle it. This horse can. Even though he's a late foal, I think he'll be ready.

JS: When was he foaled?

BB: May 27th, which is pretty late. But I knew early on he was going to come around sooner than most. Mike Pegram was surprised when I called him last year and told him that he'd be ready before Del Mar. He came around very quickly.

JS: From the conversations I've seen and quotes I've read, you have thrown out two Derby preps for him. You mentioned the San Felipe and possibly shipping him out of California to try dirt. Can you tell me what your line of thinking is as of now?

BB: Well, I had Pioneerof the Nile last year and he stayed in California and raced well in the Derby. I think this horse will like dirt better but I don't know. It's still early. I don't like to write anything in stone in January.

JS: Fair enough. But if I pressed you now, which way would you say you're leaning?

BB: If I had to say now, I'd say I was leaning toward the San Felipe and then if I shipped him, my first choice would be Fair Grounds (for the Louisiana Derby). But that track can by gimmicky sometimes. It's hard to know if he'll like it.

JS: I guess you like the new timing of the Louisiana Derby?

BB: Not necessarily. I used to like the Wood when it was three weeks out. Every horse is different. Four or five weeks is fine.

JS: Just to finish up the synthetics versus dirt thing, would you say you are now more confident that a horse doesn't have to prep on dirt since Pioneerof the Nile ran so well last year?

BB: It depends on what synthetic we're talking about. Polytrack is totally different; you don't know what you're getting with it. Our synthetics (Santa Anita's Pro-Ride) plays more toward speed. They had it totally different on Breeders' Cup day. It was more geared for turf horses. Now it's back to speed. Hollywood is closest to dirt.

But I do like California because of the weather and you don't have to worry about the sloppy, sealed tracks, which can be dangerous. You have to be careful.

JS: It's still January, but you have to be pretty happy with where you're sitting-not only with Lookin at Lucky but some of your other horses.

BB: (The Derby) is a long ways off. It's January. The last prep is the one that matters most-that mile and an eighth. That's when you really want to see what you have.

Take Control and Tiz Chrome are really talented horses too. It's great to be in this position but I have to remind myself and others that anything can happen. Look at what happened to Clutch Player. You just never know. It's nice to dream, but as a trainer, I dream in black and white. The owners--they are allowed to dream in Technicolor.

JS: Thanks Bob. Best of luck at the Eclipse Awards.

BB: If I win, I'm buying everyone drinks.




Leave a Comment:

steve s

He said Tiz Chrome very talented-thats what you need

12 Jan 2010 3:44 PM
Billy's Empire

Nice interview Jason. I like how Bob is trying to play it cool and close to the vest. We all know he has one of the top 3yo in the country, and another in Take Control that could easily step up and win if he is anything like his HOY mom, Azeri. This should be a fun year leading up to the Derby, and I am looking forward to discussing the Triple Crown, the synthetic v dirt angles, and handicapping these races. Let's make it a great 2010, and may our pockets bulge with money!!

12 Jan 2010 3:53 PM
Greg J.

      Thanks for the Interview Jason and Mr. Baffert.  Like it was noted, Anything and Everything can happen from now until the Derby, But, At this moment in time, One cannot overlook Mr. Baffert and his chances with these three.  For some reason, I think, If all stay healthy, Take Control will be the Beast in his barn come Derby time, We shall see. I like the way he is handling Lookin at Lucky and love the addition of Blinkers.  Tiz Chrome is the Wildcard in this equation, Need to see him go some distance.  Good Luck Mr. Baffert, Should be an interesting next few months...

12 Jan 2010 4:30 PM
Billy's Empire

Over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride, multiple stakes victor MACIAS (Purge) reeled off four furlongs in :47 4/5 in advance of a probable tilt at Saturday's California Derby. The Bob Baffert colt is coming off a successful turf debut in the Eddie Logan S.

Also for Baffert, undefeated sophomore CONVEYANCE (Indian Charlie) blazed five panels in :58 4/5. Two-for-two sprinting so far, the gray is expected to make his stakes, and two-turn, bow in Saturday's San Rafael S. (G3).

Bob should have these two ready to roll over the weekend. Let's see if he can keep building up the stable with Derby horses.

12 Jan 2010 4:50 PM
Billy's Empire

Looks like Connemara is going to run also in the Cali Derby, so we will see what Todd's B stable looks like...

12 Jan 2010 4:54 PM

I think Baffert holds a stronger hand than Pletcher.  The advantage would have been clear had Clutch Player remained healthy. Truly sad about Clutch Player.  He was one of those "Baffert atheletes", quick and powerful, but with long legs that suggested a classic distance was within his abilities.

Obviously, I have to rank Lookin At Lucky #1 among the Baffert horses.  Dirt is the main question, but his tactical speed and breeding(by Smart Strike) suggest that he should be able to handle it.  I have Tiz Chrome #2, given he turned in a very fast performance a few weeks ago in the listed Stuka Stakes at Hollywood(w/ a 97 Beyer, a very high number for synthetics), has won over the Churchill dirt, and is bred to get a distance(By Tiznow out of a Woodman mare).  Take Control probably comes next following his maiden victory around two turns, but Concord Point also appears talented and earned a much higher Beyer than Take Control when breaking his maiden on Santa Anita's opening day, although at a sprint distance.  Marcello, The Program, and Macias have run credibly at two turns, while Tiny Woods and Indian Firewater look more like sprinters.

12 Jan 2010 4:57 PM

hi  wow  what a great year this will be  with all the good horses coming out  and ready  to run, I do have  to agree with lenny  that my  derby horse is  also take  charge, he may be  green  but come derby day he will be in the red  from all them ROSES!!

12 Jan 2010 5:01 PM

3 other Baffert horses I forgot to mention in my first post:

Conveyance- he's running Saturday in the gr.2 one mile San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita.

Quiet Invader- just ran a so-so race around 2 turns. By Sondgandaprayer, i've always thought of him more as a one-turn horse.

Bulldogger- I haven't seen him run in person, but Steve Haksin has him in his top 20.

12 Jan 2010 5:08 PM

To correct myself, Steve Haskin has Bulldogger ranked #12, but only among horses that have yet to run in a stakes.

Note that Haskin has Tiz Chrome ranked 2nd on that list, Take Control 3rd, Concord Point 16th, and Conveyance 19th.

12 Jan 2010 5:16 PM

Great interview Jason.  Thanks for doing these.  I have no problems with his top 4 right now, but it is very early days.  As Greg  said, I love the addition of blinkers on Looking at Lucky.  I also have a soft spot for Indian Charlie's, but they are suspect at 10 furlongs.

12 Jan 2010 5:51 PM

lookin at lucky is a good horse my second choice for the derby after buddy's saint and baffert does a great training job. I don't see him running out side of california thought unless some new shooter comes out west coast, he didn't sound that convience about the louisiana derby. he looks to like my favorite derby prep the wood memorial.

12 Jan 2010 5:55 PM
Lil Darlin

Baffert thinks he's got one of the best he's had in quite some time with Lookin' at Lucky, and this is coming from a man who's had some good triple crown runners in his barn (Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Point Given, War Emblem). He's got 2.5 Derby victories under his belt so I take note of his statements (OK, that's probably not fair, but I maintain that he stole the Derby with War Emblem...that was like a Jedi mind trick he played on the rest of that field - "You will pay no attention to the black streak at the front of the pack.")

12 Jan 2010 7:30 PM

It's nice to see Baffert not bow down to the pressure and say something outrageous about Lookin's chance at the Derby. Like a real handicapper, he points out that he has no idea what he has because the horse hasn't run 9 panels and won(against mature seasoned competition). Way to often the term two turns is thrown around as if simply having a second turn answers distance questions.(1 mile at two turns is a meaningless race and a 1 1/16th is to far away from 10f to tell you anything) None of us will know anything until that final prep when all three factors converge: distance, professional pace, and stiff competition. Baffert is one of the best at this game and its interesting to compare what he has said about bringing a horse to the Derby and the path that Friesan Fire took last year. Its the difference between a guy a who knows how to win this race and a guy who was a solid trainer but really had no clue. At the very least, you can guarantee that Baffert will give his horses the best chance they have to win the big one. Maybe he can take advantage of the Florida Derby move and send a horse there and then to another prep 3 weeks later and then three weeks to the Derby.

12 Jan 2010 7:35 PM

What did happen to Clutch Player? I forgot, have a lot on my mind these days.

12 Jan 2010 7:35 PM

Historical Perspective In Regard to the Fiction that War Emblem was an Undeserving Winner of the Derby.

(1)His time of 2:01 and change was above par

(2)He went on to win the Preakness

(3)Lost the Belmont when he almost went down at the start, winged it from there, got the lead at the stretch(may have been the leader at 10f?)

(4)Came back to win another million dollar race in the Haskell

So that =Grade 1 Illinois derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Haskell

Not exactly the resume of a horse who's career should be relegated to: "stoled" a single race with trickery. No horse in that field was capable of running the Derby in a faster time.

12 Jan 2010 7:46 PM

make mine a tall morgan/coke bob.

12 Jan 2010 7:46 PM

And considering that he has issues breeding, he has been quite the success in the shed as well.(Someone please correct this if it is off) I believe he has a Japanese Classic winner and 4 or 5 stakes winners from like 30 to 40 foals.(and he is the test case for same-sex marriage in Japan!)

12 Jan 2010 7:57 PM

I've loved this horse since his 7 furlong Del Mar score.  I think I even asked Jason what he thought and he said "He looked good."  Unlike POTN-Mott, this is all Baffert from start to finish.  Like POTN he's made a lot of money and will not get much respect based on his times.  Can't wait to see what his blinks do!  It's only January so it is a little difficult to tell what's been behind him (another I Want Revenge?).  I found it interesting that as much as Bob moans about synthetics he admits to not subjecting the horse to "gimmicky" and dangerous dirt tracks.  I hope he ships and that his synthetic experience blows everyone away in the Wood.

12 Jan 2010 8:10 PM

I haven't seen Tiz Chrome run yet, but can't wait till I do. After watching Take Control's maiden, I think he has serious potential. I like Lookin' at Lucky and can't wait to see his next start. Hopefully the blinkers have got him where he needs to be.

12 Jan 2010 9:03 PM

Thanks, Jason!  Great interview with Mr. Baffert.  He appears to have a talented bunch of three year olds and I wish him the best, but I've still not settled on just one horse.

12 Jan 2010 9:06 PM
Greg J.


     Sadly, Clutch Player contracted a form of pneumonia on Dec. 31, And, Three days later he passed away.  He was considered a potential Derby prospect, Who broke his maiden first time out in convincing fashion at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19, The same day Lookin at Lucky won the CashCall Futurity. Clutch Player was owned by Kaleem Shah, Who also owns Take Control(Vallenzeri)...

12 Jan 2010 9:09 PM
Lil Darlin

Sorry that I apparently offended you, Edward.  No disrespect, especially to Baffert - he played that race perfectly and the horse executed. My comment was made in good fun.

But doesn't anyone else remember sitting (or standing) in front of their TV in 2002, watching the field turn for home, and the horse on the lead just kept going....and going...and, wait, that horse just wired the field!

12 Jan 2010 9:10 PM
John T

To me the biggest concern about Lookin At Lucky is what Baffert is saying,that the horse is a late foal [May 27]Which means he won,t be offically three until two-thirds

of the American Triple Crown will

be run.But I like what he adds that

he is the type of horse that comes around sooner than most so I am looking forward to his first race as a 3 year old.

12 Jan 2010 9:45 PM

Lookin at Lucky and his 1:37 mile did not impress me.  I am glad you pressed him a little Jason, it's always nice to hear what a good trainer is thinking but I will pass on Lookin at Lucky and all other horses that don't run on dirt in 2010 to get ready for the derby.

12 Jan 2010 11:07 PM

John T- Spend a Buck was a late May foal too, I believe.

12 Jan 2010 11:07 PM


Lookin at Lucky fits the profile of possible derby winner better than most based on historic data. OK, you guys are correct I am off again on my historic profile tangent. That said his pedigree top and bottom has been the most successful in Triple Crown history. His sire is a son of Mr. Prospector whose sons have sired the winners of 12 TC races including 3 Derbies. His dam sire Belong To Me is a grandson of Northern Dancer whose grandsons have been broodmare sires of the winners of 5 TC races. Unfortunately none were derbies. In fact, the Northern Dancer broodmare sire line has accounted for the winners of 18 TC races between 1991 and 2009. These wins included 5 derbies.

It is no surprise Lookin At Lucky fetched $450K. He probably would have fetched more if he were not a May foal. I am not in agreement with the argument that May foals are late. Horses in their natural habitats in our hemisphere foal in the spring and summer months. Consequently LAL is fine as a May foal. Manipulated January foals like Dunkirk, Old fashioned and Imperial Council had nothing over the first three finishers in the 2009 Derby who were all May foals. In fact they all eventually broke down.

I have reviewed a couple of Lookin At Lucky races and I think in spite of his ideal Derby pedigree he will not be effective at the derby distance. He had home court advantage in the BCJ and was out run to the line by a foreign invader racing on a synthetic surface for the first time. It was argued that his 13 post cost him the race. I do not agree as the fractions of the race were every moderate and he could have easily recovered from his so called unfavorable post. He had to be ridden for all he was worth to get to the leaders. With those moderate fractions he should been getting to the leader on his bit. If vale Of York was not blocked by Piscitelli he would have won easily. In The Norfolk Stake he was the winner but I think Pulsion looked to be the better horse.

Although LAL does appear to have stamina limitation, he has a lot of class and the derby pedigree to go with it. If guys from Dubai decide not sent Vale Of York to the Derby he should be amongst the contenders but I doubt he is the one.

13 Jan 2010 2:08 AM

and Footlick, don't ever forget Pioneerof The Nile was a May foal, too...;P

sheesh, to hear Baffert say that a thousand times last year, you'd think PotN was the first May foal EVER!

didn't someone compile the data a few years back and determine that very early foals (Jan. & Feb.) actually had the worst record in the Derby and that later foals (March, April, even May) did better? makes sense on some level, I guess, earlier foals may have more time to grow, but they also can't run around outside as much and from as early on because of the weather; also, IMHO, the closer we can replicate nature as far as when they're born, the better, and wild foals are born in the later spring and into the summer (unless their dams' birth control shot messes up and they breed in December!)

13 Jan 2010 2:42 AM


    LAL won that race on cruise control after being held off a very slow first three quarters. As BB said he shuts down as soon as he makes the lead, which would make his final times a little slower. Also as BB said with blinkers he just keeps going, which will probably improve his final time, unless Gomez feel content to let him go at his own pace to the wire.

13 Jan 2010 6:01 AM
John Boudreau

The Race Take Control ran the other day was UNREAL>> I KNOW IT WAS SLOW>but>>THE WAY HE DID IT WAS>>NICE!!!>>Look OUT!!!!

13 Jan 2010 7:16 AM

I thought I read last year that the Kentucky Derby was being limited to horses that have reached their actual third birthday.  Did I imagine it?

13 Jan 2010 9:06 AM

I enjoyed his Santa Anita comment: "They (Santa Anita) had it totally different on Breeders' Cup day. It was more geared for turf horses. Now it's back to speed."

...well, it worked, Turf horses ruled...2 years in a row, even. ;-)

Love Tiz Chrome

13 Jan 2010 9:31 AM
Billy's Empire

Lil Darlin, I remember, I had 200 to win on War Emblem that day, which by the way, was my first Derby ever( have not missed since) and I loved the fact that he was 20-1. That was a good day, and it got me hooked on horseracing and handicapping. How can you overlook a 112 beyer in the Ill Derby, the fastest in the field, at 20-1. Long live the dirt track...

13 Jan 2010 10:00 AM

I like Lookin ay Lucky, but after one race I was really, really impressed by Take Control.  Where does he figure into the Triple Crown trail?  An aside to Bob Baffert...I still miss Vindication..he was the first horse I saw that I thought would take the Triple Crown.

13 Jan 2010 10:32 AM
D. Rose

I don't like Take Control, based off his lone start. He was green, but didn't really punch it in like a good horse. To his credit though, he possibly is better than he showed, because he doesn't look like he cared for the synthetic track when he won.

I think it's Lookin' at Lucky all the way!!!! He is the REAL DEAL, and we haven't come close to seeing the best of him yet. If you go back and watch all off his races, you can literally see that he shuts down as soon as he makes the lead. And what a race in the BC Juvenile, with that wide post and trip. He was 5 lengths the best, geared down that day, with a better trip. THIS IS THE REAL DEAL HORSE!!!!!!

13 Jan 2010 10:36 AM

checking out NOLA.com today...came an NBC announcement in following the Triple Crown trail:

"The announcement Monday by NBC Sports and Churchill Downs Inc. includes three one-hour broadcasts — two on NBC and one on USA Network. The broadcasts will include the Louisiana Derby, Lane's End Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Bluegrass Stakes and Arkansas Derby."

Reaching out to a bigger audience...hooray for horse racing fans who usually don't get to see the preps unless they have premium cable channels.

13 Jan 2010 11:14 AM

I agree with Coldfacts in at last one area. Vale of York was sharply checked in the BCJ stretch. Without the traffic, I think he would have won off by himself. On that day, he was much the best.

13 Jan 2010 11:28 AM

Dray sounds just like old Andy Beyer with the dissing the synthetic horses. That Pioneer of the Nile, he sure didn't show much on that dirt track in last year's Derby.

13 Jan 2010 12:17 PM

How does Santa Anita play to turf horses two days of the meet? Sounds like excuses to me. Still sour over Vale of York?

I too am most interested in Tiz Chrome and Take Control, but as of now Lookin At Lucky heads Baffert's Brigade.

13 Jan 2010 12:47 PM
Jason Shandler

Tiznowbaby: I disagree with you and Coldfacts. Vale of York was far from "much the best" in the BC Juvenile. You might have to go back and watch the race. Lookin at Lucky broke from post 13 and was wide the whole way, and still lost by a neck. Vale of York had a much better trip. The Dubai-based horses are a non-factor for the Derby.

Justine: I don't think Bob was being sour at all about the Breeders' Cup. He was telling it like it is. It's not far-fetched for racetracks to change the way they want a surface to play, especially for a major event.

13 Jan 2010 12:56 PM
Azeri Fan


Since when did a mile begin to fall into the sprint category.

13 Jan 2010 1:29 PM

I love Baffert.  He's such a cool guy and an awesome trainer.  I hope he wins an Eclipse award.  I'd like to be at the bar when he buys everyone drinks!

13 Jan 2010 2:24 PM
Mike Relva


I agree,I like Take Control very much.

13 Jan 2010 2:32 PM
Billy's Empire

Take Control is nothing but outstanding, winning at first asking easily. Dont forget about those Dutrow boys. I am on the Winslow Homer bandwagon...

13 Jan 2010 2:44 PM

Jason, I submit that you go back and watch Vale's trip. He was sharply checked as he was about to make his burst.

Will he be a factor in the TC? I doubt it. Only one BCJ champ has been.

I agree LAL is the better horse. If he makes it in the gate, he will be a factor. On BCJ day, though, he was second best.

13 Jan 2010 3:22 PM

Just wanna say that May 27th = Northern Dancer.

'nuff said re: late foal comments.

13 Jan 2010 3:35 PM

Billy- I'm glad somebody else likes him too.

13 Jan 2010 3:59 PM
It Aint Easy being good

Too early to talk about derby prospects last year about half the horses were out, IWR, the mousse, QR, the 50-1 horse that one at oaklawn, old fashioned the list goes on and on i doubt any of theses horses will make the gate this year!

13 Jan 2010 4:13 PM
It Aint Easy being good

oh yeah his name was win willy lol what happened to that horse!

13 Jan 2010 4:13 PM
Carlos in Cali

Though I like & respect BBaffert and always look forward to what he has to say in his interviews,his comment regarding SA's surface during the BC was odd.

1) why would they 'manipulate' the surface to favor grass horses and give the Euros an 'upper hand'?..

2) since Lucky' ran a helluva' race,does that make him a 'turf horse'?..and if so,why is he being pointed towards the TC....just asking.I hope it's not sour grapes since he did score a big fat 'doughnut' during the BC.

13 Jan 2010 4:14 PM
Carlos in Cali

Jason, did Baffert mention what route he might take with Take Control?...I have a feeling he'll be prepped in NY.

13 Jan 2010 4:20 PM


There are so many good horses and good racing comining up. It's hard to rest on just one horse as of yet. There might even be a good filly to throw into the mix (Blind Luck). I have to say that she has impressed me more than most of the three year olds so far. And there seem to be some pretty good ones comming around.

13 Jan 2010 5:30 PM

since this is Triple Crown Talk-What ever became of Bulls and Bears?? Is he now 12th string behind 88ina55??

13 Jan 2010 7:28 PM

The San Rafael.  CONVEYANCE!  58 and change work.  Let the Holy Bull blood loose!!!

No American Lion?  Where is the Tiznow colt?  Some one has to give Baffert some competition out west.

13 Jan 2010 7:38 PM

Ship Bob Ship!  Take the Wood I Want Revenge style.  The Smart Strike horse is going to love the dirt.  The other recent Smart Stike Derby prospect Papa Clem ducked Pioneer of the Nile out west and took out Old Fashioned and Summer Bird in the process.  

13 Jan 2010 7:55 PM


What makes Baffert's hand stronger than Pletcher's?  The Derby is about quality not quantity friend.  Evenso Baffert has Looking At Lucky and Tiz Chrome as his ace cards but Pletcher has Eskendereya, Super Saver and Rule.  Both trainers have a few more unknown candidates in their respective barns but what makes you say Baffert's hand is stronger?  

Take Control as a son of AP Indy will not, I repeat, will not ripen in time for the Kentucky Derby.  If he is forced ...well I don't whish to contemplate that ... but for this colt it is still a long way from Tiperrary. At best he can be like Bernadini and probably make the Preakness with a reasonable winning chance.  He's definitely one for the Midsummer stakes races at Belmont,Saratoga or Monmouth but still too green to be a hit in the Derby.  Let's see.    

13 Jan 2010 8:43 PM

I love Bob and I hope he comes to the Wood with his big horse. And then; don't forget the Haskell Bob, we love you here in NJ!

Thanks for doing the interview Jason.

13 Jan 2010 9:18 PM

Tiznowbaby does it really surprise you that a poly horse like POTN did well in the mud ?  Nothing wrong with second but let's remember he got beat pretty good.  Horses that do not train and race on dirt and then come to the Derby expecting to win it are going home empty handed AGAIN.  Why would you wait until the biggest race of the year to see how he performs on dirt?  It's like preparing a football team to play on grass while only practicing on artificial turf.  It's dumb.

13 Jan 2010 10:07 PM

Look at all the dirt horses he did beat Dray

13 Jan 2010 10:32 PM

Draynay, why are you addressing the comment to me?

13 Jan 2010 11:36 PM
John T

So some good ol boys saw that there was some late May foals that

won the Kentucky Derby namely Spend

A Buck and that great Canadian Colt

and Sire of Sires Northern Dancer,who just happened to be born on the same date as Lookin As Lucky.But do you know what it really means?It means the percentage is very low for a late May foal so it would be nice to see Lucky join the elusive club.

13 Jan 2010 11:41 PM


I have reviewed the 2009 BCJ about 20 times. There are three colts on my short list that I focused on during my review Luckin At Lucky, Picatelli and Vale Of York. I have already highlighted the success of Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer cross that has produced numerous winners of TC races. Luckin AT Lucky has got to be seriously considered as he is a product of this successful cross. Picatelli is the best looking son of Victory Gallop I have seen in a long time and his dam was sired by a son of In Reality. Two of In Reality’s sons have been broodmare sires of derby winners. Vale Of York has one of the most unique sibling inbreeding I have seen since I got interested in thoroughbred pedigrees. He is inbred in his third generation to the extremely influential full brothers Kriss and Diesis. My repeated review of this race was to further evaluate these colts.

Here is my take on the race:

Picatelli who never led a race in his four previous starts had to be sent to the lead because of his one draw. If Kent had taken back he would have ended up behind a wall of horses going into the first turn. So what we had going into the first turn was a dead closer on the lead setting what were very modest fractions. Val Of York broke a shade slow but was quickly into stride and was so eager he almost dislodged his rider. LAL brooked cleanly and was bumped slightly going into the first turn. Apart from that incident LAL settled nicely. The modest pace (24, 48, 1:13) set by Picatelli continued to the top of the stretch. Lookin At Lucky was some 7 lengths of the lead as the pace quickened. Nobles Promise surged into the lead under vigorous urging and Picatelli followed suit. By this point Gomez was working double time on LAL. Vale Of York was the only colt that came to the top of the stretch under no urging. When Ahmed Ajtebi decides to turn him loose, Picatelli under right hand whipping came over for what was to be the first of his two rail blocking moves. Kent corrected him quickly in the first but was not about to let a horse up the rail beat so kept closing the gap on the rail. While this was occurring Ahmed Ajtebi with a ton of horse was in a holding pattern hoping for a rail run. Nobles promise was long gone and LAL with a clear passage was launching a sustained challenge. In fact LAL passed the course changing Vale Of York with 50M to go. Ahmed Ajtebi had far more horse than Gomez changed course and prevailed.

I will concede that LAL had a wide trip but he was ridden very hard to get into contention in fractions of 24, 48, 1:13. Classy thoroughbreds are not expected to be 7 or 8 lengths off such moderate fractions in a race of that distance. He should have gotten to the leader without urging but that was not the case. If Vale Of York got a clear run along the rail the race would have been over in a jiffy. This is evident in the impressive way in which he accelerated when asked. Consider this, he was blocked two maybe three times; he was in a holding pattern for about 100m of the stretch; he had to be break stride to switch off Picatell; he then had to get back into stride and accelerate against then flying Nobles Promise and the full out LAL. Only an extraordinary 2YO is capable of such a feat. His problem along the rails and late course change represents an equalizer for the negatives associated with LAL’s wide trip.

There is no doubt that he was much the best. I do not believe there are any colts in the US that can beat Vale Of York. His sire Invisible Spirit was a sprinter accounting for his tactical speed. His dam line loaded with stamina and being inbred to G1 winning sibling, Northern Dancer and Sir Gay Lord makes him a live candidate for the first European bred Triple Crown winner. Will he take to the dirt? The good ones run on any thing

I am anxious to see Picatelli return to his closing role. He is a serious derby horse

14 Jan 2010 1:19 AM

I am hoping for a horse to wow me this spring. I think LAL might be that horse. He dominated the socal circuit in 2009. I would love to see Mike Pegram and Bob bring this beautiful colt and dominate the derby and maybe get the triple crown. If there is a owner-trainer combo that can do it, this one can.

14 Jan 2010 1:26 AM
Fire Slam


Well put. I love the breeding on Taking Control. If you have KY Derby plans, why prep them on something other then what the big race will be ran on?? You play like you practice.

Bafferts horses are going to run on dirt the fast saturday in may, an be lost.

I hope Im wrong, because I am pulling for Take Control.

I am still waiting for a horse named Soaring Empire. By Empire Maker, out of an AP Indy mare. Im thinking x-factor via the dam.

Last race was at Churchill Downs, where he did not switch leads until too late, and then rebroke. Was a good race.

14 Jan 2010 1:30 AM

The decade produced an unprecedented three undefeated winners and four winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. It also produced the second winner to break two minutes; two winners that returned the second and third highest win dividends; the first winner from PP#20 in 78years; the second winner with three previous starts in 93 years; the first gelding in 74 years; the first Breeder Cup Juvenile champion winner; the first and only winner sired by sire of sires Mr. Prospector

Off all the Baffert colts mentioned I like Marcello the best. He is from the Strom Cat sire line that is overdue for a derby victory. His sire Johannesburg was the champion 2001 Champion 2YO in England and the Eclipse Champion 2YO in USA. He was far better on the track than Smart Strike. Marcello dam is an unraced daughter of Affirmed. Affirmed is the only modern day TC winner that has not featured as a broodmare sire of the winner of a TC race. Seattle Slew featured both as sire (Swale/A. P. Indy) and as a broodmare sire  (Lemon Drop Kid) Secretariat featured both as a sire (Risen Star) and as a broodmare sire (A.P. Indy & Summer Squall)

Affirmed is yet to hit the board and I think in Marcello he has a great chance make what has been a long overdue appearance on the TC chart. Marcello second dam was sired by Strawberry Road who just happens to be the dam sire of big bad Quality Road. I am very confident that when he is switched to dirt he will be a totally different colt.

14 Jan 2010 2:06 AM

Good Luck Bob! Sound's like you are charging towards the Derby with quite an arsenal! Hope you can win the Derby again!

14 Jan 2010 6:49 AM
Greg J.


     You had mentioned, Conveyance, I just read he was sold to Sheikh Rashid. He is going to remain in training with Mr. Baffert in California and is going in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita..

14 Jan 2010 11:48 AM

Greg J-  That's interesting.  Zabeel's highest profile had been Game Face here.  I had herd that he wanted a higher profile in US racing.  I had thought Pletcher was his trainer of choice.  Nice that he's leaving the horse with Baffert for now.

14 Jan 2010 12:00 PM

Actually, it seems he uses a few trainers.  I wonder if he's going to settle on one eventually

14 Jan 2010 12:27 PM
Carlos in Cali


I don't get why you feel The AP Indy line is too 'unpolished' to take the Derby.I mean AP Indy himself was an outstanding/accomplished Gr.I winning 2yo & was the top 3yo on the West Coast before scratching the morning of the Derby as the favorite.Plus,his pedigree has 2 TC winners in his immediate family(his sire Seattle Slew & damsire Secretariat),who,BTW,were BOTH crowned 2yo Champs also.And his son Aptitude placed 2nd in the Derby while he himself sired a 3rd place finisher in Steppenwolfer.Also,another of his grandsons,Dontgetmad,was a charging 4th after winning the Derby Trial the week before.There's plenty of precocity in his genes,he'll get his in due time.

14 Jan 2010 2:25 PM

Footlick...Yes I think Dunkirk was one of them!  Come on!  How many dirt horses hate Churchill.  We've seen a lot of 2-1 Holy Bull types.  The worst race of their life in an otherwise stellar career (some not finishing off the board before or after the Derby).  The dirt horses can't take to synthetics but the synthetic horses, POTN and IWR, seem to take to dirt?  I'm not buying it.  You can add Papa Clem and Chocolate Candy to complete the 2009 Kentucky Derby synthetic pick 4.  Pray for goo and sub 100 Beyers.

14 Jan 2010 2:28 PM

Greg J.  Probably got a decent price on Conveyance prior to routing. After the San Rafael win I'm sure the price goes up.  

"He's a really fast horse; he reminds me of Holy Bull."

Bob Baffert

14 Jan 2010 2:37 PM

135 Kentucky Derby (Dunkirk)

1/4= 9th

1/2= 10th



14 Jan 2010 2:49 PM
It Aint Easy being good

Haha I love when people talk about dunkirk what a joke that horse was all hype. I am with Dray abouting training and running on the real stuff! Also POTN bumped papa in the derby! Going back to Drays point though the reason I think Calvin Borel has done so well the 3 years is he is always on horses that run on dirt and two he know the track better than anyone else. So can talk horses all you want just wait till calvin borel decides on a horse and house that thing!

14 Jan 2010 3:02 PM

Don't forget that Baffert didn't think Take Control would win first time out which makes his race even more impressive.

14 Jan 2010 3:19 PM

Carlos- AP Indy's are rather notorious for maturing later on the average.  There will be horses who don't fit they type like with every sire, but the majority tend to need time.  That's why I want to wait on Take Control.  I would rather see them take their time with him and let him mature.  It's early days to be talking Derby, but the horse did show talent.

14 Jan 2010 3:59 PM

Take Control's going to freak back to his granddaddy's 2-year-old form...

He'll stretch out to his pedigree...

He'll have the heart of his Mom when she blew out a tendon at age 5 and still ran second and returned 6 months later at age 6 to win 3 Gr 1's, was second 2 more Gr 1's and gave us everything she had every time she ran...

15 Jan 2010 7:11 AM

Carlos in Cali,

My conclusion about the AP Indy has nothing to do with his race record, just the historical cold facts (LOL) about the performances of his progenies in the Derby.  I have observed them for years and there is always a big hype about them because AP Indy is a stamina source but they never mature in time to be a winning factor.  You mentioned Aptitude but he was charging late way behind a cruising Fusaichi Pegasus in Derby 2000 and in fact looked much better later in the year.  When you consider that AP Indy has been bred to the creme de la creme of the North American Broodmare band his Derby record is appalling/pitiful.  A wise observer such as yourself should just face the logical conclusion.  He is a great sire of classy stakes horses but a "dud" when it comes to the Kentucky Derby.  We thought that Friesan Fire (one of the "bulldogs" of my ol' blogger friend Slew em All last year) might have been the breakthrough progeny in 2009 only to show himself a mere puff/poodle.  This year the hype is building around Take Control.  When will you AP Indy fans be convinced?

I haven't formed such a strict view of the sons of AP Indy.  In all fairness they need to be given more time especially with the presence of Seattle Slew close up in the Pedigree.  In fact I quite fancy Stephen Got Even and am looking forward to the offsprings of Don't Get Mad.  Time will tell and doesn't lie.  

15 Jan 2010 9:15 AM

Jason, How about an update on Vale of York. It was indicated by his connections that he would be campaigned in the U.S. prior to a run at the Derby - any news on that front ?

15 Jan 2010 11:03 AM
Jason Shandler

mg: All I know is that Vale of York is in Dubai and will probably be there until April. Don't waste your time considering him a factor for the Derby.

15 Jan 2010 11:05 AM
Fire Slam


I dont have any pedigree charts in front of me. And not trying to rip anyone. Just throwing this out for thought.

A.P. Indy is by Seattle Slew, who was an undefeated Triple Crown Winner. Its kind of strange that AP Indy babies take a while to mature, since his daddy won early.

Seems like having Seattle Slew close up in the pedigree, would suggest a win early type.

F--Fire had a terrible trip in the Derby. I cold understand if he had a good trip, and then just faded. But he got beat up pretty bad.

Hopefully, the human factors dont get in the way of Take Control.  

15 Jan 2010 3:02 PM
Greg J.


     It seems like you heard right about Zabeel Racing wanting a higher profile here, Just read on Bloodhorse that they have also purchased Richard's Kid and Mr. Baffert will continue to train him...

15 Jan 2010 4:14 PM
Carlos in Cali

Footlick & Ranagulzion

I know the consensus of people is that AP Indy progeny are late bloomers,but I'm not totally buying it.I mean,he's had his share of precocious win-early types who've shown class.Not to mention his bloodlines are surrounded by early maturation too.I think his 'dismal' record regarding the Derby has more to do with their preparation,or lack-there-of,and to some degree soundness issues.How many times have you seen his 2yo's win impressively,then suddenly disappear for an extended period of time?...plenty.Remember also that 'Indy was hampered by foot problems throughout his brief career.Friesan Fire got banged-up pretty bad last year in the Derby,he was kicked/stepped-on by POTN and had a gash on one of his legs.Plus,LJones' training job leading up to the race was questionable to many observers.

15 Jan 2010 6:10 PM

Greg J- I know Sheikh Rashid wants to do well in the US.  I didn't know he bought Richard's Kid too.  Interesting.  

15 Jan 2010 6:26 PM

Carlos- I'm only going by what most of the trainers who have had AP Indy's have said.  I'm not saying it will never happen, but most of them said the majority take time getting it together.  If you think otherwise, that's fine.  There will always be exceptions.

15 Jan 2010 8:00 PM

Carlos in Cali,

So you are not buying into the truth that AP Indy is not a Derby-winner-producing sire? Have you considered that 'Indy has been covering more mares than most other stallions every year for about 17 years now and only the good mares are bred to him.  It is not impossible that he could breakthrough in his twilight years like Mr Prospector did with Fusaichi Pegasus in his last crop but what are the odds Mr odds maker? That's a pretty long shot (99:1?). How much would you wager on that?

Carlos as you are a diehard AP Indy fan let me ask you this regarding Take Control.  If the king of Derby Trainers Bob Baffert is unsuccessful in unsaddling Take Control in the winners circle on the first Saturday in May 2010 shouldn't you give up on your AP Indy excuses once and for all?


Seattle Slew is a Derby-winner-producing sire and therefore is a definite plus when he shows up in the first three generations of Triple Crown aspirants.  However in the case of AP Indy (combining with Secretariat's daughter Weekend Surprise) his influence in terms of precosity and early speed appears to be a recessive genetic factor especially in Indy's colt progenies with a few exceptions.  Certain genetic combinations can produce strange outcomes sometimes, far different from the dominant traits of the individuals that are mated.  

16 Jan 2010 9:42 PM
Fire Slam

It sounds like AP Indy is the same as Todd Pletcher. AP Indy gets the best mares. Todd Pletcher gets the best bred horses.

AP Indy has yet to produce a Derby winner, and Todd Pletcher has yet to win a Derby despite having what is suppose to be the best of the best.

Now, its only fair, if poor AP Indy is knocked for not wining Derby with so many chances, that Todd Pletcher be giving the same treatment.

16 Jan 2010 11:29 PM


You are dead wrong.  Todd Pletcher can change aspects of his training methods and regimen but AP Indy's genetic make up is unalterable.  Sorry Pal ...think before you draw spurious analogies.

17 Jan 2010 1:07 PM
Fire Slam


What makes you right?? Facts are clear. Yes or no answer--Does Todd P. get some of the best bred Thoroughbred? Yes. Does he routinely run more then one of the those expensive well bred Thoroughbred in the KY Derby and other Triple Crown events? Yes.

What is his win percentage? 1/40 something???

Wow, the facts are hard to see in black and white aren't they.

Come to think of it, maybe if AP Indy babies would go to other trainers besides Todd P. since they are some of the best bred ones, they might actually have more sucess in the KY Derby and other Triple Crown Races.

Feel sorry for you, cant admit it when your wrong. Actually dont feel sorry for you. Im loving proving how much smarter I am then you.

17 Jan 2010 4:37 PM
Carlos in Cali


Soon you will realize that 'Derby producing genetic make-up' is about as concrete as the 'Derby dosage index' scam that some folks believed was the Holy Grail in determining a Derby winner.That theory has been lost in the shuffle for the past 20+ years.Just because a certain Stud hasn't sired a Derby winner doesn't mean that they can't.BBaffert will give Take Control his best chance at achieving his full potential.The only negative aspect about him,IMO,is his rather late beginning to his career.But,luck plays a big part in the overall scheme of things.You should know that breeding the best-to-the-best doesn't guarantee diddly-pooh right?...But,in this case,we shall see..

Here's my proposition:  I'll bet you that AP Indy will sire a Derby winner before any of your Dubai-based horses you so insistently tout,(Jose Adan et al?). lol,stay thirsty my friend.

17 Jan 2010 6:36 PM

Carlos in Cali,

Thanks for reminding me about Jose Adan ...Oh boy ...you wont let me forget him, will you?  Here this Bro, you will need a lot more patience waiting on AP Indy to sire a Kentucky Derby winner than me seeing the re-emergence of the promising Godolphin-owned gelding Jose Adan.  They are very patient horse conditioners over there in Dubai and it is very probable that "Jose" could rise like a Phoenix from the ashes in the Dubai World Cup on the new Tapeta surface in March this year.  

You said that luck plays a big part in the overall scheme of things, so its good luck to you, AP Indy and Take Control.  You are gonna need it Pal.

Fire Slam,

My comments about Todd Pletcher's abysmal Derby record are well documented on these Blogs.  Nevertheless, unlike you, I can see where saddling a Derby winner would be such a huge boost for his already glittering career as a trainer that he must be aware of changes that he can make (having been mentored by the likes of Triple Crown master D.Wayne Lukas).  This year he holds one of the strongest hands leading up to the classics, so much so that I fancy him to prevail.  Anyway we'll see.  Hold your fire in the meantime, don't slam him so hard (LOL).  Wait 'til after the Derby.

17 Jan 2010 10:00 PM
Fire Slam


We will wait to see if Todd P. can finally win it. I disagree that he is stacked this year.

Dunkirk was his best chance so far. And that cost his clients almost 4.5 million---I think.

Now, if folks are smart, they will go bet Todd P. in the Derby. By me just saying he wont win, he will run first, second, and third. If he has four in that is your superfecta.

17 Jan 2010 10:40 PM

Fire Slam,

I believe you are mistaken about Dunkirk being his best Derby shot so far. Dunkirk was supposed to be his silver bullet last year but turned out to be a blank shot because he needed a rabbit to help him out. Circular Quay and Rags To Riches in 2007 were his previous best shots.  He had a double-barreled "Derby Gun" that year but under-estimated the filly and mismanaged the colt's preparation IMO.  Anyway 2010 belongs to the Todd squad.  Also watch for Quality Road to upstage all the RA and Z rage this year.  He's off to a very good start and the Grade 1 Donn Handicap is next on the agenda. After he cops that everyone will want to duck him.  Let's enjoy what promises to be a most exciting racing season.

18 Jan 2010 2:32 AM
Fire Slam

Think Quality Road is a level or two below what his current connections think. I may be wrong, but thats why they run the races.

Your right Todd mismanaged the colts preparation, and failed to realize he had a filly for the ages.

This is why Todd wont win the Kentucky Derby any time soon. His stable is ran like a business/company. Get he best bred horses, run them in the top races, run a lot of them, and hope you score. Where is the training? He maintains the horses, instead of training or as DAVID CARROLL SAYS "TEACHING."

If the big trainers of today would take the time to teach horses, instead of "maintain" them, folks like Todd P. might actually win a KY Derby.

With that said, now that I am running my mouth, Todd P. will run 1-4 in the Derby. If he has four horses in the race, I will box those for the Superfecta!!! I will try to trick the racing gods.

Oaklawn Park today. Cecil Borel has one in. By Pulpit. They like him. Had some problems last out at Fairgrounds, and needed a race.

Price wont be anything, but he may be something to keep an eye on for the future.

18 Jan 2010 12:10 PM

Triple Crown trail includes 3 races, and when you talk about AP Indy, might want to mention Bernardini and Rags to Riches.  As far as Seattle Slew goes, it's darn hard today to find a decent competitior who doesn't trace his/her line back to the Slew...like California Flag and She Be Wild.  Don't forget when you want to talk about 3 year olds, there are some fantastic fillies in the wings, not just colts.

19 Jan 2010 2:25 PM

Congratulations to Lookin at Lucky on picking up the 2 Year Old Eclipse award.  I would like to see a CONVEYANCE, Looking at Lucky, American Lion, matchup soon.  

19 Jan 2010 7:56 PM

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