The First Saturday in May – My PickThursday, April 29th, 2010 by Cass Chappell, CFP®
Over 26,000 racehorses were foaled in 2007. On Saturday, May 1st, twenty of them will “Run for the Roses”. One will win.
That horse will be #1, Lookin at Lucky, with Jockey Garrett Gomez aboard.
Being the morning-line favorite, and at odds of 3-1, this isn’t exactly stepping out on a limb. Anyway, here are some key observations:
Lookin at Lucky has won 6 of his 8 races. The two races he didn’t win involved SUBSTANTIAL traffic issues, most recently in the Santa Anita Derby.
Many horseplayers will use that to bet against Lucky in this spot. Starting in the 1 gate is TOUGH for a closer and 20 horses makes for a log-jam. Derby history is littered with great horses who didn’t win the Roses because of a poor trip, only to go on to Hall of Fame careers (see Point Given - in 2001, he finished a troubled fifth in the Derby, only to go on to win the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, and Travers).
It’s the way that Lucky handled the traffic in the SA Derby that makes me so excited about his chances.
The horse came to a virtual STOP at the 5/16th pole to avoid another horse and then took off again, passing several horses to finish 3rd to Sidney’s Candy. Lucky ran evenly with Sidney’s Candy for the rest of the race, even though he had to stop and re-start.
He turned in a final furlong of 12.45 and a final 3/8 of less than 37 seconds in his last prep.
Conventional wisdom dictates a final furlong and final 3/8 of less than 13 and 38 seconds, respectively, in a horse’s last prep race. The Derby will be the longest race any of these horses has ever run. If a horse was tiring in its last prep race it doesn’t bode well for the added distance of the Derby. Other horses in this year’s Derby have met both criteria, but Lucky did it under very difficult circumstances.
He is a CLOSER
There is a lot of early speed in this year’s Derby which creates the possibility of a pace meltdown. Sidney’s Candy, breaking from gate 20, will have his hands full. By my count, there are four other early speed types in this race. Line of David and Conveyence will be pushing Candy all the way. This should bode well for a closer like Lucky….but also for #2 ICE BOX (my official sleeper).
Bob Baffert, the trainer, has won three times before and Garrett Gomez, the best rider in the country, is well known for being able to time the wire just right
The Derby is full of “feel good” stories. This would be no different. Garrett Gomez saw his career briefly end from mid 2002 to late 2004. He battled substance abuse and even spent some time in jail. Through hard work, Garrett has resurrected what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career by winning the last four earnings titles. See his Wikipedia page
Here’s to hoping there isn’t a traffic jam for Lookin at Lucky!
Post time is 6:24, mint julep at 6:26