LOUISVILLE — Bob Baffert said Wednesday that he had just finished his lunch when he received a text message telling him from which post Lookin At Lucky would begin his Kentucky Derby journey.
"Thank God I had already eaten," the three-time Derby-winning trainer quipped.
The fortunately named horse with the unfortunate knack for finding trouble will have another challenge to face Saturday. Lookin At Lucky, the reigning 2-year-old champion, drew the rail in the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby, but was still deemed the 3-1 morning-line favorite.
Although 12 horses have won the Derby from the No. 1 post since 1900, it hasn't happened since Ferdinand closed from dead last to win in 1986.
Considering Lookin At Lucky has had troubled trips in three of his last four starts — including his third-place run in the Santa Anita Derby where he was bumped while in tight on the rail — jockey Garrett Gomez will need to pull out all his Eclipse Award-winning skills if he wants to earn his first Derby victory.
"Garrett likes being inside so he's stuck there now," Baffert joked. "Now's his chance.
"Once you have the number, you deal with it and don't let it get you down. Now we just have to keep him healthy. The rest is just up to racing luck."
Mike Pegram, co-owner of Lookin At Lucky, did not let the draw dampen his enthusiasm.
"There's no use crying about it," said Pegram, who campaigned 1998 Derby winner Real Quiet. "That's the good thing about Lookin At Lucky. He's talented enough that he'll be able to run his race from anywhere. We'll find out if he's good enough to win."
The two favorites in the race received arguably the two worst draws of the day.
Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy, who was made the second choice at 5-1, will have to showcase his front-running speed from the outside post No. 20.
"What can I say? At least you're on the outside and can see what's going on," said John Sadler, trainer of Sidney's Candy. "That's how it works. You have to deal with what you've got and do the best you can with it."
With Endorsement and Interactif declared out of the race earlier in the day, graded stakes winner Backtalk and the hard-trying Make Music for Me gained last-minute entry into the Derby field.
That shuffling of horses also sparked some shifting of riders. Trainer Mike Maker announced that Robby Albarado — who was slated to ride Endorsement — would be aboard Dean's Kitten on Saturday one day after saying Joel Rosario would have the mount.
Rosario wasn't left out, however, as he promptly picked up the mount on Make Music for Me, who is trained by Alexis Barba.
"It's very exciting but I'm sorry for the other people who didn't make it," said Barba, who is seeking to become the first female trainer to saddle a Derby winner. "There is no hesitation (about running). We were always hoping and planning to be here.
"Unfortunately the two favorites didn't draw too well, did they?"