As we continue to look for parallels in this year’s Triple Crown races compared to those of last year, it seems they keep popping up. Last year they played musical jockeys as Calvin Borel jumped off of the Kentucky Derby winner, Mind That Bird, and opted to ride the filly Rachel Alexandra, who won the Preakness Stakes.
Now if you read my column last week, I said maybe just maybe jockey Garret Gomez does not fit Lookin At Lucky, as he has been in trouble with him in three straight races, including a very dumb ride in the Santa Anita Derby, when he was stuck down on the rail in a very small field.
I said maybe just maybe trainer Bob Baffert needed to try a new rider, and lo and behold he has put Martin Garcia in the irons for the Preakness; and these two have hooked up for some big wins this year and last.
Now I think this change may have come before the Kentucky Derby but Gomez was already signed on for the ride but I know that Bob’s wife Jill was very unhappy with Gomez after the Santa Anita Derby debacle, and lo and behold on Mother’s Day we get the jockey switch.
Now don’t feel bad for Gomez as trainer D. Wayne Lukas scooped him up in a flash for the ride on his main contender, Dublin.
Now this would be ironic if Dublin wins the Preakness, beating Lookin At Lucky and Super Saver and wearing the Black-Eyed Susans with a huge smile on the face of Gomez and Lukas.
In what is a very strange Triple Crown year with all the similarities from last year’s races when Rachel came storming onto the scene, it would have been great to see the Pletcher filly Devil May Care show up in this race, instead of the Kentucky Derby, but that would have been too much to ask for.
We could get one of the new shooters to step up and win such as Schoolyard Dreams or Hurricane Ike, who ran super over the Churchill mud winning the Derby Trial going away under, who would you think, but Calvin “Bo-rail.” This would give trainer John Sadler some redemption.
All I can say is that if the track comes up sloppy or muddy you must use Super Saver in all your exotics, but if the weather is fine, both Lookin At Lucky and Dublin “can do, can do” as they sang in “Guys and Dolls.”
So where does this leave us, as we really don’t have all the confirmed starters and we don’t know what the track conditions will be and what the post position of each horse will be; but we do know that Jill Baffert will be rooting for a dry track and an outside post for Lookin At Lucky and if he gets a clean trip under Martin Garcia, he will be right there against a not so great Preakness field.
One thing that you can also count on is that if the track is dry, Gomez will be giving Dublin a Hall of Fame ride with fire in his eyes. If it rains, look out for Calvin and Super Saver, and Paddy O’Prado despite just one win and that was on the grass; he is very consistent, if he can handle the Pimlico dirt he could surprise for a piece once again.
Hurricane Ike appears to be sitting on a big race in this his fourth start of the year and is a must use in the exotics. The very consistent Jackson Bend will wake up big time if the track is fast and could give trainer Nick Zito some redemption as he will wait and send his top gun Ice Box to the Belmont Stakes.
Todd Pletcher will also send out Aikenite who ran behind Hurricane Ike in the Derby Trial; he also showed he could run well in the mud.
So this race all depends on track conditions; keep an eye open and see how those early races are run as you can catch some track bias on this Pimlico strip.
Good luck and I hope we are all Lookin At Lucky, or a at least a little bit luckier; without luck we will be up the track.