Feeling Lucky

October, 3, 2010
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The rain fell steadily at Hoosier Park on Oct. 2 and in the tiny clubhouse section of the partly racetrack, mostly casino, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert shook hands and posed for pictures with the grace of a campaigning politician. Was Lookin at Lucky's last trip through the slop, a miserable sixth-place finish in May's Kentucky Derby, running through his white-topped head? It most certainly was not.

"Haven't even thought about it," said the track's most famous out-of-towner.

And that was that.

This was a different set of circumstances, the Preakness and Haskell winner much the best. He proved it with a gutsy last-to-first rally in the mud to take the $500,000 Indiana Derby, maintaining his reputation as the country's top 3-year-old with a 1-length score under Martin Garcia.

"It just shows the grit," a relieved Baffert said after the win. "He's like an iron horse. He knows where the wire is. He hones in. It's so funny, the minute he made the lead, his ears went up. He just shut it down. And that's what he does. He goes around there and he gets to horses really quick. He's just really handy like that and I'm just glad."

The theorizing that Baffert had done before the race went out the window -- he shouldn't go wide, he wouldn't come from out of the clouds -- when the field sprinted away from the gate at Hoosier and jockey Martin Garcia found himself sitting last aboard the top 3-year-old in the country.

"I thought at first I made a mistake," said Garcia, who returned to the winner's circle covered with mud. "Bob told me, 'Don't get dirty!' but the good thing I did was win. He broke super good, but the other horses just took off. Everybody was together and I didn't want to be there."

"Whoa, he's not gonna run in that mess," Baffert said early. But Garcia was confident as Lookin at Lucky swung four wide off the turn to tackle Thiskyhasnolimit and the trainer, grim at first, began to smile.

"All right, now we're lookin' good!" he said, and the clubhouse erupted in cheers and applause.

"I knew that I had plenty of horse and even though I was going four or five wide on the turn, I knew that was the best spot to make a run," Garcia explained when he returned to the winner's circle. "You know when you have a car like eight cylinders and you just push the pedal and take off? Well, that's my horse."

Mike Pegram, who owns the colt in partnership with Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, said the win was well-deserved.

"This horse has been through a lot of adversity," he said. "But when Bobby brings one armed and ready …"

We all saw the result.

For more comprehensive information on horse racing, visit Helloracefans.com and Horseracingnation.com. You can follow Claire Novak on Facebook and Twitter at @ClaireNovak.



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