Lucky number 7

May, 14, 2010
When Martin Garcia was introduced at the news conference that followed the Preakness it was noted that the winning rider used to work at a deli. This is relevant to me because right now I have in my pocket just enough to buy a ham sandwich. I do not have enough in the event Martin is charging for cheese. I didn't believe in Lookin At Lucky, whose bad racing luck seemed to be a by-product of some of the things he hasn't been able to do in his races as much as what has happened to him. I've been wrong before. Right now the key question is whether I take the last fourteen dollars and buy a sandwich or attempt one of the greatest comebacks in gaming history by playing Race 13.

As I write, Bob Baffert is speaking about racing luck. He was given a ticket at a deli this morning for breakfast that read "7." His horse broke from the 7 post. Seven is such a lucky number. Except after the point has been established in casino craps, then seven is bad. This reminds me of the time Joe Tessitore threw the dice and one of them was sandwiched against some chips on the side of the table. The lady running the table called "seven-out." Joe then pointed out how the lady also could have called it a four or a nine, anything but a seven. Wait. Someone is asking about Garcia and the deli again. I'm getting hungry. Race 13 approaches.

Someone just asked Garcia "when did you know you'd won the race?" Garcia said, "After my horse crossed the wire."

Baffert's son Bode just picked up someone's tape recorder and walked off. I can fill the guy in if he is on deadline.

Baffert thinks seven is a lucky number. Garcia used to work at a deli. Joe Tessitore lost at craps.

Wait. We're on to one serious point. What happens to Lookin At Lucky next? Baffert just narrowed it down to shipping him to Belmont Park, California or Kentucky. I'm assuming if he sends him to Kentucky it's to ask for a do-over of the Kentucky Derby. That way we might have another Triple Crown winner. It's been awhile. The episode in the Derby wasn't Baffert's fault, it wasn't the horse's fault and it wasn't the fault of Garrett Gomez, who today could have won the Preakness. It's due to the fact it was the Kentucky Derby. A very hard race to win. Twenty horses in the field. Big crowd. A mile and a quarter for the first time. Odd things happen. Odd things, like the best horse doesn't always win.

As was the case with Point Given, who finished fifth as the beaten favorite in the 2001 Derby, Baffert had to make a choice whether it was worth it to head to Baltimore and try to prove Lookin At Lucky's value. He not only decided to do that, he also decided to fire one of the best jockey's in the country in Gomez, and reach out to young Martin Garcia. Garcia used to work at a deli. Wait. You knew that. I'm hungry. You knew that too. The 13th race just went. There'll be no gaming comeback today. Maybe there will be at the Belmont, where Ice Box will be waiting for Lookin At Lucky. I wonder if Baffert will really roll the dice and switch back to Gomez. I wonder if Joe Tessitore will get a better call on the dice next time. Seven isn't always lucky. It was today. Matter of fact, 7-11 as the exacta was even luckier. ($188.60)

The news conference just ended. Bode Baffert still has the tape recorder. Who needs to hear any of the tape now anyway? It would only be a bunch of words. Words are unnecessary when the picture here was so clear. A young jockey caught a break, his horse finally caught up with some luck. And while Baffert and Lookin At Lucky seemingly stopped a horse's Triple Crown bid, it appears more accurate to say such a thing had already happened back in Kentucky.

Kenny Mayne

Kenny Mayne -- known for his offbeat style, dry humor and unique sayings -- has served a variety of roles in more than 10 years with ESPN. He currently provides features to SportsCenter and "The Mayne Event" segments to Sunday NFL Countdown.



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