Lookin At Lucky follows up his Preakness victory in tremendous stylePICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Lookin At Lucky so dominant in Haskell
Report: USA, Sunday
Monmouth Park: Haskell Invitational (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
PREAKNESS Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky (Bob Baffert/Martin Garcia) produced an outstanding performance to establish himself as clearly the best three-year-old in America with a runaway victory in Sunday's Haskell Invitational.
Sent off 6-5 favourite, Lookin At Lucky had to overcome the inside gate before an storming home an easy four lengths clear of 5-2 chance Trappe Shot to claim the $1 million event in front of a crowd of 40,904 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Preakness runner-up First Dude just beat Kentucky Derby winner
Trainer Bob Baffert was winning the race for the fourth time after successes with Point Given, War Emblem and Roman Ruler.
"We were hoping he would run well, run the way he'd been training," said Baffert, who said before the race that this was the toughest Haskell he had ever seen.
"Today he was phenomenal - we'd been waiting for a coming out party," added the trainer. "When he gets on dirt he's a totally different horse. He was just floating over this stuff."
Martin Garcia: clever ridePICTURE: Getty Images
Jockey Martin Garcia can take a deal of the credit for a stunning success, having deliberately moved Lookin At Lucky off the rail as soon as they left the starting gate.
As First Dude and Our Dark Knight vied for the early lead ahead of close-up Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky was settled a few lengths adrift in the middle of the seven-runner field.
Last year's US two-year-old champion and Super Saver both moved up menacingly rounding the far turn and the two Classic winners were head to head on entering the stretch.
However, where the Kentucky hero started to labour, Lookin At Lucky produced an amazing burst to record a totally authoritative victory that suggests he will be a major force in the Breeders' Cup Classic further down the line.
"He broke fine," Baffert said, "and Martin eased him to the outside. I knew we'd lose a little bit of ground, but that was the winning move. This was really a break-out race.
"Martin was still sitting, but when he pushed the button, the horse really took off. You can't make that move on synthetic, but on dirt it was the winning move. That's really what I like to see - running fast horses on fast tracks."
The son of Smart Strike's career record now stands at eight from 11 including five Grade 1s. He stopped the clock for the 1m1f at 1m49.83s.
"He just keeps improving, getting better and better," said Baffert. "This is like the fourthClassic - the next one is the Travers, we don't know what we're gonna do yet."
If such a brilliant display brought some sense of order to a muddled three-year-old dirt division, runner-up Trappe Shot also posted a fine effort on his graded-stakes debut.
Winner of his previous four races in lesser company, he stayed on well on the outside to finish a clear second.
"But this race is the best of the best, and right now we're in second place."
>>Uptowncharlybrown spiked a fever on Sunday morning and was scratched from the Haskell.