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Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky is stuck with rail

Exercise rider Dana Barnes works out Lookin at

Exercise rider Dana Barnes works out Lookin at Lucky during Kentucky Derby preparation at Churchill Downs. (Apr. 26, 2010) Credit: MCT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Lookin At Lucky, the 3-1 favorite, Wednesday drew the dreaded rail in a field of 20 for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Post 1 will force Garrett Gomez to ride aggressively from the gate to avoid being trapped behind a wall of horses entering the critical first turn.

If the co-owner of the 2009 2-year-old champion was upset, he didn't show it. "He's going to get a great trip and win the thing,'' a smiling Mike Pegram said. "No use crying about it, just have to stay positive. I know he's talented enough to do whatever he has to.''

Trainer Bob Baffert was considerably less upbeat.

"I thought I heard about a re-draw,'' Baffert said. "Is he still the favorite? I'd just had lunch, and thank God I'd already eaten. I got a text and saw I got the 1. This horse, he can't catch a break, he's either inside or outside. We named him wrong. Can we change the name?

Lookin At Lucky raced very wide from post 13 and had traffic problems in the stretch when he ran second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In his 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn Park, he nearly clipped heels on the backstretch but rallied to win by a head. In his next race, the Santa Anita Derby, Gomez steadied him sharply along the rail, ruining his chances and enraging Baffert.

"Garrett likes to be inside so he can get a horse in trouble,'' he said, only half-kidding. "But I think [post] 20 would have been worse for a horse with this one's style.''

Sidney's Candy, the 5-1 second choice, couldn't be farther away from the colt he beat by 6 lengths at Santa Anita. Sidney's Candy drew post 20, just like 2008 Derby winner Big Brown. So Joe Talamo will have to use the front-runner to get position in the quarter-mile cavalry charge into the turn.

Endorsement was scratched after fracturing his right front ankle Wesndesday during a workout. The injury is not considered life threatening. Setsuko and Pleasant Prince were among 22 horses entered but were excluded for lack of sufficient graded-stakes earnings. As expected, trainer Todd Pletcher did not enter Interactif, so his defection and Endorsement's injury let in 50-1 shots Backtalk and Make Music for Me.

After withdrawing highly touted Eskendereya on Sunday because of an ankle injury, Pletcher was due for some good luck. His four runners did all right - the filly Devil May Care (10-1 odds, post 11), Super Saver (15-1, 4), Discreetly Mine (30-1, 15) and Mission Impazible (20-1, 14).

"I thought we made out pretty well,'' Pletcher said. "I was actually hoping Super Saver would draw near the inside. I knew Calvin [Borel] would be trying to get to the rail, and the 4 makes that easier.''

After Lookin At Lucky and Sidney's Candy, three horses are 10-1 - Devil May Care, Ice Box (post 2) and Awesome Act (16). The other 15 are 12-1 or higher, with eight at 30-1 or more.

It was the first time since 1997 that the draw was a traditional pill pull. From 1998-2009 a number was assigned to each horse and its connections would select a post position.

"If they hadn't changed the rules and it had been the lottery this year,'' Baffert said. "I would have gotten the first pick.''

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