Lookin at Lucky will be heavily favored to record his sixth stakes victory in the 73rd Santa Anita Derby on Saturday.
The son of Smart Strike leads all 3-year-olds in graded stakes earnings ($1.39 million) that determine the 20 starters in the Kentucky Derby.
Speculation over where Lookin at Lucky would race ended Monday when trainer Bob Baffert decided the colt will stay in his backyard, instead of returning to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby April 10. That’s where he won the Rebel Stakes, despite a troubled trip in his only trip on the dirt. Garrett Gomez has been aboard all seven starts.
On Sunday, Lookin at Lucky, with six wins and a second, went six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:12 handily. “He worked well enough to run him here,” Baffert told the Daily Racing Form.
“The positives to staying home are the extra week (before May 1 Kentucky Derby) and the weather is going to be cool. He’s happy, and that’s all that matters.”
Well, others going in the $750,000 Grade 1 probably aren’t particularly thrilled since first money in the 1 1/8-mile contest is $450,000. However, the runner-up gets $150,000 and would help several runners make the field at Churchill Downs.
In fact, Alphie’s Bet, winner of the Sham, and Caracortado, with two minor stakes triumphs at Santa Anita, probably must finish at least second to make the trip to Louisville, since their earnings are $90,000 and $108,000, respectively.
Alphie’s Bet, who will be ridden by Alex Solis, went five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 handily last Thursday at Hollywood Park. Caracortado, whose third-place finish in the San Felipe was his first loss in six starts, went five furlongs in 59 4/5 on Sunday at Santa Anita with regular rider Paul Atkinson at the reins, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
Sidney’s Candy, who has $180,000 to his credit, could assure a berth with a third place finish that’s worth $45,000. The son of Candy Ride, front-running winner of the seven-furlong San Vicente and 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, worked seven furlongs in 1:26 1/5. Jockey Joe Talamo rides again.
Most of the regally bred field needs to visit the winner’s circle in order to qualify for the Derby.
Setsuko, runner-up in the Sham, went four furlongs in 46 2/5 handily on Tuesday at Santa Anita. The son of Pleasantly Perfect has hit the board in his last six outings dating back to last fall, but only has a maiden victory.
Skipshot has posted two allowance wins after breaking his maiden this year. The son of Skip Away posted a bullet 58 2/5 for five furlongs on Sunday.
Who’s Up is in a tough spot, making his 3-year-old debut after winning the Generous Stakes on the Hollywood Park grass last fall. The son of Graeme Hall went five furlongs in 58 4/5 handily on Sunday.
Surprisingly, Santa Anita’s premier race hasn’t produced a Derby champ in more than two decades since Winning Colors in ’88 followed by Sunday Silence the next year.
Giacomo did it in ’05 at boxcar odds off a fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. Two runner-ups also scored: Silver Charm in ’97 and Real Quiet in ’98.