Lookin At Lucky captures Preakness
• Photo gallery: 135th Preakness horse race
By BETH HARRIS
BALTIMORE — Change of jockeys, change of fortune.
Five years ago, Martin Garcia was working in a deli making sandwiches. He couldn't name even one of the Triple Crown races. But the 25-year-old jockey stole one of them yesterday on Lookin At Lucky, giving trainer Bob Baffert a Preakness win with a trouble-free ride.
Garcia beat veteran Calvin Borel, who had predicted a Triple Crown sweep after his colt Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby in the muck.
Baffert made a gutsy call between the two races, opting to take veteran Garrett Gomez off Lookin At Lucky, who was anything but in a series of mishaps in big races dating to last year.
"Our luck had to change somehow the way the trips have been," Baffert said.
The little-known jockey from Mexico proved to be up for the job aboard the bay colt in only his second Triple Crown race. Surprisingly, his toughest challenge didn't come from Super Saver. The colt faded to eighth as the 9-5 favorite in the 12-horse field.
"When I asked him, he kind of just folded up. It happens," said Borel, who didn't ride the rail this time — his signature trip.
Lookin At Lucky won by three quarters of a length over First Dude. Jackson Bend was another head back in third. The winner ran 1 3-16 miles in 1:55.47, giving Baffert his fifth Preakness victory, tying him with D. Wayne Lukas for second all-time.
It was the Hall of Famer's first Triple Crown win since 2002, when War Emblem won at Pimlico.
"When I saw those red colors making that cruise, I thought, 'Oh boy, he's running today,' " Baffert said.
Lucky's win means yet another year will pass without a Triple Crown champion. Affirmed was the last to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.
Lookin At Lucky paid $6.80, $4.60 and $3.80 as the 2-1 second choice. First Dude returned $16.60 and $9.20, while Jackson Bend paid $6.60 to show.
Yawanna Twist was fourth, followed by Dublin, Paddy O'Prado and Caracortado. Then came Super Saver, Schoolyard Dreams, Aikenite, Pleasant Prince and Northern Giant.
Things started to look up for Lucky on Wednesday, when he drew the No. 7 post. Super Saver wound up immediately to his outside.
"The draw was so important," Baffert said, and he turned out to be right.
Bad post positions were only part of his colt's misfortunes. When Baffert decided to dump Gomez for Garcia, he traded experience for enthusiasm. Before the race, Garcia kept thanking Baffert for the mount, and the trainer kept telling him to focus on the race.