Baffert making a jockey switch

Garcia to ride Lookin At Lucky

May 10, 2010|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

Bob Baffert isn't certain whether Lookin At Lucky will run in the 135th Preakness Stakes on Saturday. But he is certain Garrett Gomez won't be the jockey.

Looking for a change of luck, the Hall of Fame trainer will put Martin Garcia on Lookin At Lucky if the Kentucky Derby favorite runs at Pimlico, as appears likely.

Gomez is one of the nation's elite riders and has been aboard Lookin At Lucky for all nine career starts. But he had a troubled trip in the Santa Anita Derby and finished third. Baffert was critical of the ride afterward and noncommittal about Gomez following a disappointing finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Drawing the rail at Churchill Downs, Lookin At Lucky was bumped twice early, and after moving into contending position at the second turn, dropped back to sixth.

"I talked with Garrett a few days ago," Baffert said. "I told him that we've just been having such bad luck and I wasn't sure if I was going to run, so I wanted to give him a chance to find another mount. And if I did run, I was maybe going to replace him — only just to change our luck.

"He was good about it because we're good friends. I wanted to try something different one time and see. Maybe we'll draw better or do something. I'm just trying to change our luck."

Garcia, 25, won the Grade III Lone Star Derby on Saturday at Lone Star Park for Baffert and is on the rise in California. As of Saturday, he ranked 10th on the Equibase list of jockey earnings with $3,244,201.

Baffert, who has won the Preakness four times, told Pimlico officials Sunday that he would make a decision on Lookin At Lucky on Monday.

"I'm leaning toward it, but I'm just not sure," he said. "Everybody is trying to nail me down, but I don't want to say yes today, because I've been known to change my mind quite often. I'm sort of being wishy-washy about it, but I'd rather wait and see how he is on Monday. Today, I liked what I saw."

It didn't take Gomez long to find another mount, however. D. Wayne Lukas promptly took Terry Thompson off Dublin (seventh in the Derby) and put on Gomez.

Two days before the post position draw and five before the $1 million race, the Preakness field remains fluid but full. In addition to Baffert's call on Lookin At Lucky, trainers Nick Zito and Tony Dutrow are expected to make decisions on Jackson Bend and A Little Warm, respectively, today.

Jackson Bend ran 12th in Louisville under jockey Mike Smith and had a 11/2-mile gallop at Churchill Downs on Sunday under exercise rider Stacy Prior. Zito indicated he'd make a decision after a workout Monday.

"We'll do a little something [Monday], maybe blow him out a little bit," Zito told Pimlico officials. "Then I'll talk to Bob [LaPenta, the principal owner] and we'll see what he wants to do."

In another development, Mission Impazible may join Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and shooter Aikenite in trainer Todd Pletcher's Baltimore-bound stable on Wednesday.

Mission Impazible ran ninth in the Derby and will breeze at Churchill Downs on Monday. Pletcher is expected to make a decision Tuesday, although in another breakthrough for social media, Mission Impazible's Facebook page rated his chances of running in the Preakness at 60 percent.

Including Yawanna Twist, a colt trained by Rick Dutrow, there are 15 horses under consideration to run in the Preakness, one over the limit. Based on highest lifetime earnings in all races — the final tier in Pimlico's three-tier process — First Dude would lose out to either Mission Impazible or Yawanna Twist.

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