Lookin At Lee eyes Preakness glory after strong run in Derby

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BALTIMORE (AP) Charging hard down the stretch, Lookin At Lee barely missed winning the Kentucky Derby as a 33-1 long shot.

His second-place finish seemingly impressed no one.

Lookin at Lee has received little attention at Pimlico Race Course this week and is a 10-1 underdog in the Preakness behind Always Dreaming, the 4-5 favorite in Saturday’s race after outlasting Lookin At Lee by a mere 2 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs.

What gives?

Click here to stream the 2017 Preakness Stakes on NBC Sports

“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.”

British horse racing inspired by Formula 1 for new series

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LONDON (AP) British horse racing is drawing inspiration from motor racing for a new championship.

Twelve branded teams will compete over eight consecutive Thursdays at different race courses across Britain when “The Series” is launched by Championship Horse Racing in 2019.

The aim is for each team to feature 30 horses and four jockeys. Each of the teams will enter one horse into each of the races to create 12-runner fields.

Organizers say a Formula One-style points system will be used to determine the winners of championships for teams and jockeys.

Championship Horse Racing CEO Jeremy Wray says it’s a chance to engage fans with “bite-size, interactive content.”

The Series has been developed with the Jockey Club, which hopes to attract a new audience to horse racing.

Kanthaka wins San Vicente prep at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Long shot Kanthaka won the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths on Saturday at Santa Anita, giving Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer a second Kentucky Derby prospect.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Kanthaka ran seven furlongs in 1:22.62 and paid $24.20, $7.20 and $4.80 at 11-1 odds in the field of six 3-year-olds.

Hollendorfer also trains Derby contender Instilled Regard.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Nero returned $7.80 and $5.60 at 9-1 odds. All Out Blitz, another 9-1 shot that was another 12 lengths back in third, returned $5 to show.”

Ax Man, the 2-5 favorite also trained by Baffert, was under intense early pressure from his post along the rail and faltered badly in the stretch to finish fourth.

“I would completely throw this race out,” said Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Ax Man.

Kanthaka was next-to-last midway around the far turn before cutting inside All Out Blitz a quarter mile from the finish of the Grade 2 race.

“He gave me a great run and he did everything right,” Prat said. “He broke like a bullet but then we had quite a lot of speed in front of us. So he sat really nicely behind the speed and made a really nice run around the turn.”

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Kanthaka’s career earnings to $153,440, with two wins in three starts.