Lookin at Lucky, the Champion Two-Year-Old Male in 2009 and the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. 1) presented by Yum! Brands Saturday, has again been shunned by his namesake ol' Mr. Luck. After encountering severe trouble in his last two starts in which competitors bumped him during a Rebel Stakes (gr. 2) victory and a Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) third, Lookin at Lucky draws into the dreaded number one post position for the Kentucky Derby.
The far inside post is dreaded for many reasons among Kentucky Derby trainers not the least of which is traffic congestion. During the nearly quarter-mile run to the first turn, the 19 horses to the outside all try to get near his position on or close to the rail in effort to save ground around the turn. Some runners will want to be there ahead of Looking at Lucky and may unintentionally cut him off. Others invariable cause domino bumping incidents that sometimes conclude with the inside horse taking the worst of the ruckus.
Or the trouble may even start before the race in the starting gate, in which Lookin at Lucky will be the first to load and thus spend the most time.
There are some silver linings around Lookin at Lucky's dark post position cloud however. He has plenty of talent and speed to dash away from gate in an effort to avoid much of the trouble should jockey Garrett Gomez and trainer Bob Baffert decide to employ that strategy. It is doubtful he would sprint to the lead, but the more horses he leaves behind, the less chance of traffic. It would take some early energy however.
He also drew next to Ice Box in post two, who is one of the true closers in the race. The Florida Derby (gr. 1) winner will likely be at a pace not much faster than a gallop on his way to the first turn in an effort to stay behind the ensuing equine quagmire. That should give Lookin at Lucky some additional room in which to avoid potential problems early in the race.
Additional silver lining for Lookin at Lucky came when his closest competitor drew the post farthest away and generally deemed as the second worst. Sidney's Candy, who defeated Lookin at Lucky in winning the Santa Anita Derby and is the second choice in the morning line, drew the far outside post 20. Big Brown in 2008 and Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 are the only horses to win the Kentucky Derby from post position 20.
Sidney's Candy has won his last three races, all graded stakes, in wire-to-wire fashion and thus has plenty of early gas to to clear competitors and merge towards the inside. And although trainer John Sadler has said Sidney's Candy will not need to have the early lead and probably won't in the Kentucky Derby, (especially now), he certainly appears to have the speed to overcome the additional distance created from breaking to the far outside.
Although 12 horses have won the Derby from the 1 post position making it tied with post 5 for producing the most winners, the last to do so was Ferdinand in 1986 and it took an historically clever ride from jockey Bill Shoemaker to pull off that win.
Having the two favorites draw the worst post positions may also create more opportunities for the others looking for the upset.
The filly Devil May Care, co-third choice at 10-1 in the morning line, drew an optimal position in the middle of the gate in post 11. Ice Box is also listed at 10-1 as well as Awesome Act, who drew post 18.
Post 18 poses many of the same obstacles for Awesome Act as post 20 does for Sidney's Candy, but Awesome Act does not have the same early acceleration. Awesome Act and jockey Julian Leparoux will most likely take a much less aggressive approach and will be just that more susceptible to bad racing luck.
Endorsement injury not life threatening
Sunland Derby (gr. 3) winner Endorsement suffered a broken ankle during training Wednesday morning and was obviously not entered in the Derby. The injury is a non-displaced condular fracture and is not life threatening.
Earlier Wednesday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that he would not enter Derby hopeful Interactif. That left the door open for Make Music For Me and Backtalk, number 21 and 22 on the graded earnings list last night, to enter the Derby today.
Kentucky Derby Post Position and Morning Line
1. Lookin At Lucky, 3-1
2. Ice Box, 10-1
3. Noble's Promise, 12-1
4. Super Saver, 15-1
5. Line of David, 30-1
6. Stately Victor, 30-1
7. American Lion, 30-1
8. Dean's Kitten, 50-1
9. Make Music For Me, 50-1
10. Paddy O'Prado, 20-1
11. Devil May Care (f), 10-1
12. Conveyance, 12-1
13. Jackson Bend, 15-1
14. Mission Impazible, 20-1
15. Discreetly Mine, 30-1
16. Awesome Act, 10-1
17. Dublin, 12-1
18. Backtalk, 50-1
19. Homeboykris (g), 50-1
20. Sidney's Candy, 5-1