LOUISVILLE, KY. — — Bob Baffert tried to say all the right things during the week. He tried to put on a good face, and pretend that his horse, Lookin At Lucky, had a legitimate chance to win the Kentucky Derby despite drawing the No. 1 post position. But after the race, he admitted he never really believed it.
Lookin At Lucky, the co-favorite at the start of the race, never really had much of a chance. He had to fall off the pace early, then try to mount a charge late, and there was simply too much traffic. He finished in sixth.
"I lost all chance at the post position draw when I drew the number one," said a sullen Baffert, minutes after the race. "Since then, I haven't really been able to enjoy it. I couldn't get into it.
"Everything had been going so smooth, and then boom, right in the No. 1 hole. I quit watching him after the first bump. He was done. I kind of wish Garrett [Gomez] would have pulled him up. That's horse racing.
"You have good luck and bad luck. I've been lucky enough to win this race and other guys have had bad luck."
Gomez said he felt like Lookin At Lucky didn't have a good feel for the track. This was just the horse's second appearance on dirt.
"I thought something was amiss with him because he just stuck them in the ground," Gomez said. "I sat down on him and I didn't know what was going on. By then, I started to figure out what he was doing I knew I was in trouble. You can't do that. You can't give up ground."
Baffert's other horse, Conveyance, had the lead at 3/4 of a mile, but he faded badly down the stretch and finished 14th.
Baffert said he hasn't decided whether or not he'll enter either horse in the Preakness Stakes on May 15.
"I'm going to look them over the next couple days and think about it," Baffert said. "I'm not going to make any promises over the next few days."
The big winner
As good of a day as it was for Todd Pletcher, WinStar Farms and Calvin Borel, it was arguably an even better day for Glenn Fullerton of Houston. Fullerton, a software consultant, got a chance to lay down a $100,000 bet as part of a promotion put on by CNBC. The contest selected one fan and gave them the chance to hit it big while wagering big money, and Fullerton was selected.
Per the rules, he had to wager it all on one horse. He picked Super Saver, and walked away with about $900,000.
"It feels unbelievable," Fullerton said. "When I was looking through the horses, Super Saver has had some success on a wet track and Calvin has had an incredible amount of success here at Churchill. Those two factors weighed on me, and then I really came down to a gut feeling."
Ice Box cools off
Nick Zito thought for a few seconds he was about to snag his third Kentucky Derby victory. His horse, Ice Box, hung well back for the first mile, but then he started to surge. Problem was, jockey Jose Lezcano couldn't quite find an opening for him — until it was too late.
"At the half mile pole, he started running, but I didn't want to go wide in a 20-horse field," Lezcano said. "I had to check at the quarter-pole, but he came again and made a big run."
Zito didn't have any regrets.
"We're very blessed," Zito said. "I couldn't get lucky enough to beat Calvin Borel. But my horse ran a great race. I have to be happy with the way he ran today."
The biggest surprise of the day was probably Make Music for Me, who finished fourth. He wasn't even in the 20-horse field at the beginning of the week, but made it in when several horses were scratched with injuries and lackluster training.
Make Music for Me was dead last for much of the race, but he came on strong and just missed hitting the board. His trainer, Alexis Barba, was trying to become the first woman to win the Kentucky Derby.
"I'm quite happy with him," Barba said. "He had me a little worried he was so far back, but I saw him making up ground on the backstrech. I'm delighted with his effort. We'll sit down with his owner and talk about the Preakness."