“We don’t worry about that too much,” Lookin at Lee assistant trainer Scott Blasi said after Wednesday’s draw. “He’s a blue-collar horse and probably easy to overlook, but he’s not for us.”
Lookin At Lee hasn’t won a race since last August but has finished in the money in seven of 10 career races. On April 15, Lookin At Lee finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Classic Empire and a length behind runner-up Conquest Mo Money in the Arkansas Derby.
He’s a gritty competitor, which goes a long way toward explaining his impressive run in the slop two weeks ago.
“His personality and gamesmanship are what gave us confidence in him going into the Derby,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “You have no control over how the other horses run, but you always feel Lookin At Lee is going to do his best.”
Lookin At Lee was ridden expertly in Kentucky by jockey Corey Lanerie, who never sat on the horse until hopping on board in the paddock before the Derby. Lanerie rallied the bay colt along the rail, passing most of the field before coming up short at the end.
At one point, he thought: “I’m going to win the Derby!”
It almost happened, but …
“Always Dreaming just wouldn’t come back,” Lanerie said. “You come so close and you don’t get it done, it’s tough. But to run second on only my third Kentucky Derby mount, it was pretty special.”
Though the odds maker at Pimlico may not have been impressed, Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Always Dreaming, expects another close race on Saturday.
“I think he’s a very good horse,” Pletcher said of Lookin At Lee. “He ran a terrific race in the Kentucky Derby. We were fortunate to win. I thought he ran a very good second, so that makes him certainly a horse you have to keep your eye on for this race.”
Speaking from experience, Blasi expects Lookin At Lee to build on his showing at Churchill Downs.
“Very proud of his effort in the Derby,” Blasi said. “Historically, I think the horses that have run well in the Derby run back well in the Preakness. We’ve won this race twice with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, both coming back off two weeks rest, and we’re very familiar and very comfortable with what’s getting ready to happen.”