Lookin At Lucky, Conveyance impress Baffert with solid Churchill works
LOUISVILLE — There have been times in past years when Bob Baffert has watched certain Kentucky Derby hopefuls train in the morning and come away feeling not so great about their chances for the big afternoon.
"I've come here with some horses where I watch them work and hope that maybe something would happen, and it didn't happen," said the Hall of Fame trainer.
By all accounts, Wednesday was not that kind of day.
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Baffert's Derby-bound duo of Lookin At Lucky and Conveyance each did their part to enhance their trainer's faith when they sparkled in workouts at Churchill Downs.
In his second move over the Louisville track since arriving last week, Lookin At Lucky was visually impressive in a 6-furlong work in company. The son of Smart Strike broke about 6 lengths behind his workmate only to move ahead in the stretch and finish in 1:12.
Impressive in his own right was Conveyance, who sizzled 5 furlongs in :58.60 — the fastest work of the day at that distance — with Calvin Borel up.
"The way they worked today, you know they have a chance, so that's a good feeling," said Baffert, who added the pair would probably have their final pre-Derby works next Monday or Tuesday. "Lucky had the workmate, but he didn't get out there far enough for him and he collared him pretty quick.
"Conveyance, he needed that work," Baffert continued. "I didn't train him hard enough for his last race (second in the Grade III Sunland Derby). I liked what I saw."
Most pleasing to Baffert has been Lookin At Lucky's progression since arriving at Churchill.
Though the reigning 2-year-old champion earned all three of his Grade I wins over synthetic surfaces, Baffert maintains the colt is much happier on dirt — a fact that seemed evident Wednesday.
"This week, the last three days, you can really tell he is using his hind end and is getting into it, whereas he wouldn't use it as much at Santa Anita," Baffert said. "He's really getting stronger."
■ Rick Dutrow-trained Homeboykris covered 6 furlongs in 1:14.80 Wednesday.
Filly still a Derby possible
Just when you thought trainer Todd Pletcher couldn't possibly wrangle more Derby contenders, the four-time Eclipse Award winner could add a filly to his loaded mix.
Pletcher reaffirmed Wednesday he and owners Glencrest Farm are considering starting Grade I winner Devil May Care in the Derby rather than in the Kentucky Oaks, contingent on how she works this weekend.
"We won't make a decision until after she works here," said Pletcher, who could have as many as seven Derby starters this year. "The one thing I know for sure is she wants to go a mile and a quarter. I've had the benefit of working her in company with quite a few of these colts who will run in the Derby and I know that she's capable of sticking with them."
Devil May Care won the Grade I Frizette at Belmont last October and is coming off a 23/4-length victory in the Grade II, 11⁄8-mile Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream on March 20.
Devil May Care would potentially knock Homeboykris — who is 20th on the graded-stakes earnings list — out of the field.
New training schedule earning praise
While the current graded-stakes earnings system continues to be a hot topic on the Churchill backside, the new training schedule the track put in effect for Derby and Oaks horses is already earning widespread kudos.
In response to an incident last year when a non-Derby horse got loose while several Derby contenders were on the track and fatally collided with another horse, Churchill instituted a new rule this year where only Derby and Oaks horses would be allowed to train during the first 15 minutes after the renovation break.
"It's really great. We had the track to ourselves and it was beautiful," Baffert said. "Sometimes you get out there and there can be a 2-year-old out there or some horse breaking off and really mess up the works."