Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winner 44 was 'Lookin' better by the race

Consistent improvement and persistent effort finally paid off for Lookin At Options, as the 2-year-old colt wore down the leader and won by a head Saturday at Philadelphia Park, becoming the 44th of my 187 juvenile sales picks of 2010 to break his maiden.

After a rough debut effort among maiden special weight competition, Lookin At Options was dropped to maiden-claiming $25,000 by trainer Uriah St. Lewis, and progressively improved from fourth, to an impeded third, to second, and now the winner's circle. On this day, the colt who had previously shown his best run late, was ridden along early by jockey Gary Wales to stay closer to a blistering pace of 21.86/45.57, then was forced to loop the field wide on the turn. Just when it looked as though front-runner Sharp Pick and Eriluis Vaz might coast home with the win, Lookin At Options rallied down the center of the track, just getting up at the wire.

The chestnut colt covered six furlongs in 1:11.73.

Lookin At Options (Soto-Good Forecast, by Caveat) was bred in Kentucky by Highclere, and is owned by Trin-Brook Stables Inc. and Bleu Max Stable.

I shortlisted him for a client at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training this May, where I was tasked to identify bargain runners with promise. Consigned by agent Randy Miles and catalogued as Hip 163, Lookin At Options sold to St. Lewis for just $8,500.

I considered the horse a "Priority 4" option, among a trio who were the lowest-rated on our bidding list. I actually liked a lot about him, including an 11-flat breeze that was fair for the sale. But I detracted for evidence of a past shin problem (which Miles said was healed, and appears to be), some niggling conformation issues (including one crack in a hoof), and a spotty produce record by his minor stakes-placed dam (five of seven prior foals to race but only three modest winners).

Still, he was muscular, sleek and I was convinced he'd be in our price range if we hadn't already walked away with a horse when his number was called. It's tough to quibble with St. Lewis' buying the boy for $8,500, now that he has a win, place and show from five starts (and I still say he got screwed out of second-money last-out), and has earned $27,360. The 1:11.73 time for 6f isn't all that bad, either, and the colt's penchant for laying back and closing late -- coupled with a dam by Caveat, a Belmont Stakes winner -- suggests to me he might remain stay competitive or keep improving as he matures and the races get longer.

With winner No. 44, the sales-tip class now has 23.5 percent winners from all 187 selections, and 39.3 percent of the 112 to have made at least one start. Through early evening action worldwide Saturday, the group has won 61 of 402 starts, for a strike rate of 15.2 percent. They have placed 74 times and come in third 45 more, for an in-the-money rate of 44.8 percent.

Combined earnings have reached $3,156,676, which is $7,852 per start and $28,185 per starter.

Follow the 187 sales-picks, and a handful of pans (two of whom make their debuts Sunday) in at following link.

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