Don’t look now at Lookin at Lee

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAVID GINS­BURG

BAL­TI­MORE — Charg­ing hard down the stretch, Lookin At Lee barely missed win­ning the Kentucky Derby as a 33-1 long shot.

His sec­ond-place fin­ish seem­ingly impressed no one.

Lookin at Lee has re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion at Pim­lico Race Course this week and is a 10-1 un­der­dog in the Preak­ness be­hind Al­ways Dream­ing, the 4-5 favourite in Satur­day’s race af­ter out­last­ing Lookin At Lee by a mere 2 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs. What gives? “We don’t worry about that too much,” Lookin at Lee as­sis­tant trainer Scott Blasi said af­ter Wed­nes­day’s draw. “He’s a bluecol­lar horse and prob­a­bly easy to over­look, but he’s not for us.”

Lookin At Lee hasn’t won a race since last Au­gust, but has fin­ished in the money in seven of 10 ca­reer races.

On April 15, Lookin At Lee fin­ished 1 ½ lengths be­hind Clas­sic Em­pire and a length be­hind run­ner-up Con­quest Mo Money in the Arkansas Derby.

He’s a gritty com­peti­tor, which goes a long way to­ward ex­plain­ing his im­pres­sive run in the slop two weeks ago.

“His per­son­al­ity and games­man­ship are what gave us con­fi­dence in him go­ing into the Derby,” trainer Steve As­mussen said. “You have no con­trol over how the other horses run, but you al­ways feel Lookin At Lee is go­ing to do his best.”

Lookin At Lee was rid­den ex­pertly in Kentucky by jockey Corey Lanerie, who never sat on the horse un­til hop­ping on board in the pad­dock be­fore the Derby. Lanerie ral­lied the bay colt along the rail, pass­ing most of the field be­fore com­ing up short at the end.

At one point, he thought: “I’m go­ing to win the Derby!” It al­most hap­pened, but ... “Al­ways Dream­ing just wouldn’t come back,” Lanerie said. “You come so close and you don’t get it done, it’s tough. But to run sec­ond on only my third Kentucky Derby mount, it was pretty spe­cial.”

Though the odds maker at Pim­lico may not have been impressed, Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Al­ways Dream­ing, ex­pects an­other close race on Satur­day. “I think he’s a very good horse,” Pletcher said of Lookin At Lee. “He ran a ter­rific race in the Kentucky Derby. We were for­tu­nate to win. I thought he ran a very good sec­ond, so that makes him cer­tainly a horse you have to keep your eye on for this race.”

Speak­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence, Blasi ex­pects Lookin At Lee to build on his show­ing at Churchill Downs.

“Very proud of his ef­fort in the Derby,” Blasi said. “His­tor­i­cally, I think the horses that have run well in the Derby run back well in the Preak­ness. We’ve won this race twice with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, both com­ing back off two weeks rest, and we’re very fa­mil­iar and very com­fort­able with what’s get­ting ready to hap­pen.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Preak­ness Stakes hope­ful Lookin At Lee gets a bath re­cently.

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