Bob Baffert happy having a Derby underdog


Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky.

Bob Baffert has little doubt who should be the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

The Hall of Fame trainer says Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya is “a star” and “the horse to beat.”

All of which suits Baffert just fine. He’ll happily test his luck with Lookin At Lucky.

The 3-year-old colt has won Baffert over with his toughness, a quality that will be in high demand when 20 horses head to the starting gate for next weekend’s Run for the Roses.

“He’s not going to be intimidated by a lot of horses,” Baffert said. “He’s had a great mind since day one, the first time I ran him.”

Lookin At Lucky showed that grit during the worst performance of his career in the Santa Anita Derby three weeks ago. Despite a nightmarish trip that left Baffert momentarily steamed at jockey Garrett Gomez, Lookin At Lucky got up for third.

Not bad for a horse Baffert felt was finished, or maybe even injured, after seeing him check up early in the race. Baffert was so disgusted he stopped watching the race and joked that he was thankful there were no microphones in the general vicinity.

Gomez and Baffert have patched things up and Gomez will ride the horse in the Derby.

The Santa Anita Derby may have been a blessing of sorts.

If Lookin At Lucky had somehow run down eventual winner Sidney’s Candy, he may have gone off as the Derby favorite. Now, all the attention — and the pressure — will be on Eskendereya and trainer Todd Pletcher, who is 0-for-24 in the Derby.

“I don’t think anybody’s looking around for Looking At Lucky,” said Baffert, who also trains Derby entry Conveyance. “Everybody is going to be worried about their own horse.”

Lookin At Lucky was the male 2-year-old champion last year following a campaign that featured wins in the Delmar Futurity and the Norfolk Stakes.

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