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HORSE RACING

Trainer Bob Baffert enjoying a 'Lucky streak

Hall of Fame trainer's unbeaten 2-year-old colt Lookin At Lucky wins the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita and could be Kentucky Derby material.

October 05, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

As if Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert isn't having enough fun these days, now he has an unbeaten 2-year-old colt, Lookin At Lucky, who could be blossoming into a Kentucky Derby hopeful.

"I'm becoming a big fan of his, watching him run," Baffert said Sunday after Lookin At Lucky improved to four for four in his career with a 1 3/4 -length victory over Pulsion in the $300,000 Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita.

Baffert's only concern for the odds-on favorite was how the son of Smart Strike would handle his first test at two turns. Lookin At Lucky, ridden by Garrett Gomez, rallied from fourth entering the stretch and cruised home in 1:43.11 for the 1 1/16 miles.

"If we keep him healthy, we should have a lot of fun with him," Baffert said.

Baffert, who has trained three Kentucky Derby winners, said he is impressed with his horse's intelligence and versatility, calling him his best 2-year-old in the last five years.

"He's got power steering," Baffert said. "He's not one-dimensional, which is so great because you don't have to worry about track condition or speed. He's just a very good horse. You're seeing him unfold like I do. He's got something different than my other ones have ever had, so it's pretty exciting."

Next up is a likely Nov. 7 race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at the same distance. Baffert's Midshipman finished second in last year's Norfolk but went on to win the Juvenile.

Pulsion closed strong to take second at odds of 18-1, with 39-1 Gallant Gent third.

"I think the best 2-year-old in the country won the race, and we weren't far off of him," said Pulsion's jockey, Mike Smith. "So if he can improve, who knows?"

In the $300,000 Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Blind Luck overtook 3-1 favorite Always a Princess in midstretch and pulled away for a 2 1/2 -length victory. Bickersons finished third.

Blind Luck covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.19.

Ridden by Tyler Baze and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck won for the third time in four starts and established herself as a strong contender to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 6.

"Turning for home, the seas parted and she ran great to the wire," Baze said. "As far as I'm concerned she's the best 2-year-old filly in California."

The filly division became wide open after an injury Tuesday sidelined Mi Sueno, the Del Mar Debutante winner.

"She looks like she's a pretty nice filly," said Hollendorfer, one of the co-owners who purchased the daughter of Pollard's Vision after she won her debut by 13 1/4 lengths last June at Calder Race Course in Florida.

Always a Princess, making only her second career start for Baffert, also likely earned a start in the Breeders' Cup after setting the pace and giving ground grudgingly.

"She's very talented," Gomez said. "I'm excited about her. I liked the way she did everything. She didn't throw in the towel."

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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