There’s a reason why trainers like Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have continued success — they know when to push forward and when to pull back.
On Sunday, Baffert announced his Preakness Stakes winner, Lookin At Lucky, will skip the Belmont Stakes on June 5. He’s raced five times so far in 2010, including two hard races in the past two weeks, and will now be given a well-deserved respite.
“I want to keep this horse around,” Baffert told The Associated Press.
Ditto Pletcher, who said Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver will also get a break and be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
“We would have loved to have come here and win the Preakness and go to the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown,” Pletcher told The Associated Press. “That would be the ultimate challenge.”
Instead, horse racing has now gone 32 years between Triple Crown winners since three horses — Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978) — broke through in the ’70s and made the Crown look almost too easy. It’s the longest drought ever between Triple Crown champions.
Baffert and Pletcher are both absolutely making the right calls. These are two talented colts who, handled with proper care, could make major noise this summer and fall. They’re that good, especially Lookin At Lucky, who’s lost three times in 10 races but had legitimate excuses in all three defeats.
Lookin At Lucky could return in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 1. Pletcher said Super Saver will be sent back to his barn at Belmont Park for a breather.
So now the focus returns to the two ladies of the sport — Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra — and Quality Road, who is expected to return to the track in the Met Mile at Belmont Park on May 31.
As trainer D. Wayne Lukas told The Associated Press on Sunday morning: “Thank God for Zenyatta and Rachel. They’re keeping the interest pretty good.”