Lookin At Lee is ready for the 2017 Belmont Stakes, but not too many will be discussing him. That’s too bad because if the colt has proven anything, it’s that he can compete at the highest levels offered by this season’s three-year-old crop. After finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes, Lookin At Lee will be one of just two horses that will compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year.
That’s notably impressive for a horse that was a 20/1 longshot at Churchill Downs just five weeks ago.
Despite being the son of 2010 Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, there was nothing to suggest that this particular contender was going to be…well…uh…a contender. His best effort was a third place run in the Arkansas Derby behind Classic Empire, who is the only other three-year-old to compete in all the Triple Crown legs this season.
Before that Lookin At Lee had posted sixth in the Rebel Stakes and third in the Southwest Stakes. Prior that? He ran fourth in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which was won by Classic Empire.
All things considered, however, Lookin At Lee has the feeling of a horse that could randomly have his day making him a decent standalone play. At the very least he’s what I like to call a parlay stuffer. The Belmont Stakes is hard enough at a gargantuan 1 1/2 miles, so I like to invest in horses that like to compete. Covering the distance is one thing, but showing up to race is the real ticket.
“He came back great and I thought it went perfect,” said Toby Sheets, an assistant to head trainer Steven Asmussen. “He seems to really like Belmont. We got great weather this morning, so that always helps.”
It’s no doubt that the Belmont Stakes is a true gamble. The distance is simply agonizing. But Lookin At Lee being healthy enough to compete in the race after drilling well in the lead-up shows a lot of promise. There’s no way his connections would run him in this race given how hard the Triple Crown schedule is. Very rarely do owners and trainers push horses this hard when they don’t have anything at stake other than a win itself.
The 2017 Belmont Stakes field is taking shape and we’ll know who’s where on Wednesday. But it would be silly to overlook a hearty competitor like Lookin At Lee. With top-four finishers in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he offers the type of consistency you like to see in a horse prior to the final leg of the Triple Crown. A win bet is hard to swallow considering that Classic Empire has shown the same resolve, but the Belmont makes mice out of the mighty. This very well could be the moment that Lookin At Lee has been waiting for.