OCEANPORT, N.J. -- For all he had accomplished throughout his career, ranging from the 2-year-old male championship of last year to the Preakness Stakes this year, there still was an element of mystery to Lookin At Lucky, namely, just how good is he? On Sunday at Monmouth Park, given a chance to train into the race fresh, and given a trouble-free trip by jockey Martin Garcia, Lookin At Lucky, as co-owner Mike Pegram said, got a chance to "show off" in the $1 million Haskell Invitational.
Against a field that included Super Saver, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Trappe Shot, the late-blooming star of the 3-year-old division, Lookin At Lucky blew them all away, romping to a four-length victory before a crowd of 40,904.
"Today," trainer Bob Baffert said, "he was phenomenal."
Lookin At Lucky started from the rail, but was taken outside horses soon after the start in order to race in the clear the rest of the way. He ranged up three paths wide on the far turn, disposed of First Dude and Super Saver, spurned a mild bid from Trappe Shot, then shot clear in upper stretch. Trappe Shot finished bravely to hold second, three-quarters of a length in front of First Dude.
Super Saver was fourth and was followed, in order, by Afleet Again, and the Nick Zito-trained pair of Ice Box and Our Dark Knight.
Uptowncharlybrown was scratched Sunday morning because of a high fever, according to his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, leaving a field of seven.
The win was a record fourth in the race for Baffert, who honed Lookin At Lucky in recent weeks at Del Mar, including a telling five-furlong drill in 58.60 seconds on Monday morning. Baffert's previous Haskell winners were War Emblem, Point Given, and Roman Ruler, all in the last decade.
Lookin At Lucky ($4.40), the favorite, completed 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.83. The race was run under cloudy skies, a significant break on an afternoon in which threatening skies were all around the area. There was mild rain before the first race, but nothing of substance the rest of the way.
Pegram owns Lookin At Lucky along with Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. He has now won 8 of 11 starts. He earned a first prize of $600,000 to bring his career bankroll to $2,713,000.
Lookin At Lucky is now 2 for 2 under Garcia, who took over in the Preakness after several rough trips under jockey Garrett Gomez, including a nightmarish trip from the rail in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby, in which he finished sixth.
"He broke fine and Martin eased him to the outside," Baffert said. "I knew we'd lose a little bit of ground, but that was the winning move. This was really a break-out race."
Baffert said he had yet to decide if Lookin At Lucky would remain on the East Coast and run Aug. 28 in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
"Right now, I'm not sure," Baffert said.
McLaughlin, the trainer of Trappe Shot, said he was disappointed to lose the race.
"We think an awful lot of him," McLaughlin said. "We were running against the best of the best. I guess we're number two."
No question, as he was at the end of last year, Lookin At Lucky is still the best of his generation.