I have a love/hate relationship with this horse. Since before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile I've liked and backed the horse, and too often he has cost me money. So I finally learned my lesson and backed off him for the Derby, so he completed the exacta at a huge price to key big payoffs. So, there are two questions here, then - has he earned back my trust, and if he has can he justify that trust? I respect the rare iron horses that run all three Triple Crown races these days - this colt and Classic Empire are the only two this year - so that's a definite mark in his favor. But can he do enough to be a factor here?
Last race: He was a respectable fourth in the Preakness, but it was not a good race for him. He wasn't standing straight at the start and was left behind. He's a closer who wants to be off the pace, but he was too far off early on. He was moving forward late in the race, but given the far-from-suicidal early pace he had left too much work to do and was never a real factor. It was frustrating because he surely had more to give and would easily have been third with a better start and a better-paced ride.
Prior experience: The crowning glory for the horse - what he will likely be most remembered for barring a great path from this point forward - is his second-place finish in the Derby. He had an absolutely perfect inside trip, and he and the winner both proved that that was where to be on that day. It was fitting that he didn't win, though, because the pattern for him has been to be solid but not quite good enough, He won the second and third races of his career to jump into graded stakes competition, but he hasn't won since. He's made a career of following Classic Empire across the wire, too. Besides the Preakness he was second behind that colt in the Breeders' Futurity last fall and fourth behind him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This spring he was third when Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby. He finally beat him in the Derby and will get another shot at doing it here.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen. The number of trainers who have ever won more races than Asmussen has? Just one. And Asmussen is the most successful active trainer. He is a winning machine. Asmussen has won the Preakness twice and is the defending champion of the Belmont after winning last year with Creator. He's obviously capable of winning this race, and he has had this horse ready for solid performances so far this spring, so he should be ready here again.
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.. This is the 12th start of the colt's career, and Ortiz will be his seventh different rider. Luckily, it is also by far the best rider he has had. I have never been very high on Corey Lanerie, and the ride he gave this horse in the first two Triple Crown races - especially the Preakness - did nothing to change that. Ortiz is a great choice here. He's a Belmont specialist and among the best riders in the country. He won this race last year for Asmussen with Creator with an extremely good ride, so we know he can handle this spot. He's a real asset and will get all this horse has to give.
Breeding: Lookin at Lee is a son of Lookin at Lucky, a rare champion at both two and three and the Preakness winner in 2010. Lookin at Lucky sired Breaking Lucky, who won a leg of the Canadian Triple Crown in 2015. Lookin at Lucky is a son of Smart Strike, who also sired the great Curlin and is the damsire of Derby winner Mine That Bird. Lookin at Lee's damsire is Langfuhr, a champion Canadian sprinter who most notably sired Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando. This is a very nicely-bred horse - and I'm not just saying that because I am Canadian.
Odds: Lookin at Lee sits at the co-second choice in the field at +380, according to MyBookie . That places him behind favorite Classic Empire and tied with Japanese invader Epicharis. I'd like to see those odds higher by race day because of all that running in both races already has likely taken out of him. At this price he would be really hard to get excited about.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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