Horse of the hour: Crowd celebrates Lookin at Lucky | NevadaAppeal.com

Horse of the hour: Crowd celebrates Lookin at Lucky

Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service

MINDEN – The birthday boy might not have been there, but he still was the man, err, horse of the hour Thursday night at the Carson Valley Inn’s Shannon Ballroom in Minden.

CVI co-owner Mike Pegram’s horse, Lookin At Lucky, still fresh off his win in the Preakness Stakes two weeks ago, celebrated his third birthday Thursday.

Pegram, along with trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia, were the special guest speakers at a dinner in Lucky’s honor, regaling a crowd of 220 with their tales of racing adventure.

A video tribute to the horse also was shown.

The celebration continues today as Pegram, Baffert and Garcia will meet the public and sign autographs in the cabaret lounge at the Carson Valley Inn from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. and at the racebook in Bodines from noon to 1:15 p.m.

Lookin at Lucky was the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 1, but after an unlucky draw for the pole position, he was cut off at the rail and finished sixth.

Still, he had a quickly growing local fan base rooting him on.

“I wish I could’ve been here the day of the Preakness,” Pegram said. “Everybody from the employees to the customers, they all got behind this horse. Northern Nevada kind of adopted this horse.

“They were saying it was like the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You could just hear the air come out of the place when he got wiped out in the Derby, and when he hit that finish line at the Preakness, the whole place came alive.

“There’s no way we weren’t going to have this party. Whatever it costs, it’s worth every dollar. Just seeing the gleam and the joy in people’s eyes, you see why you are in this sport. It makes you feel special.”

Lookin at Lucky rode to a win in the Preakness in a time of 1:55.47, holding off pacesetter First Dude and a late charge from Jackson Bend under the direction of Garcia, who had been brought in after the loss at the Derby.

It was Baffert’s first win in a Triple Crown race in eight years. He said he was happier to see Lookin At Lucky in the winner’s circle than he was to find himself back there.

“I was so elated for the horse, he deserved to win one of these,” he said. “He kept getting this bad luck, but he just looked too great. When he won, that was just confirmation. He is a great horse and I was so excited for him.”

Lookin at Lucky won’t be racing in the Belmont Stakes. His next stop will either be the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 31 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., or the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 1 at Monmouth Park, in New Jersey. If things go well, Pegram said they could look at entering Lookin At Lucky in the Breeder’s Cup Classic in November.

“I think he could win the Belmont, but I want to freshen him up,” Baffert said. “Our main concern is to keep him happy, sound and injury free.”

“He’s still growing. We’re going to freshen him up and starting in August, it’ll be a pretty tough campaign.”