Day At The Track

Lucky Weekend looks to graduate in Kindergarten

06:24 AM 02 Nov 2018 NZDT
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Lucky Weekend, harness racing
Lucky Weekend hopes to graduate in Kindergarten Classic
Lisa Photo

Chris Lakata hopes it's best to be "Lucky" this weekend at The Meadowlands.

Lucky Weekend, trained by Lakata, starts from post eight with driver Vincent Ginsburg in Saturday's $221,540 Kindergarten Classic Series championship for 2-year-old male harness racing trotters at the Big M. The gelding, purchased last month by Richard Mishkin for $45,000 at the inaugural Lexington Selected Mixed Sale, has won five of nine races and is among the season's 10 fastest 2-year-old male trotters, with a mark of 1:54.2.

He went off stride in his first start for his new connections on Oct. 12, but rebounded with a Kindergarten win a week later. He was scratched last week because of sickness.

"There are a lot of horses that are sick now; it seems to be going around," Lakata said about Lucky Weekend, a son of Lucky Chucky-Weekend Vacation who was trained previously by Chuck Sylvester. "He seems to be better now.

"He seems like a nice solid horse. He's got a great attitude and is a very happy horse. I really like everything about him. He was already on his way to looking good before we got him. He made a break the first week we raced him so we changed a couple things and he was really good his last start."

The Meadowlands hosts four Kindergarten championships on Saturday. In addition to the final for 2-year-old male trotters there is the $236,060 final for 2-year-old female trotters, $173,800 final for 2-year-old male pacers, and $148,700 final for 2-year-old female pacers.

Post time is 7:15 p.m. (EDT) for the program's first race.

Lakata, a former longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Ron Gurfein, is in his fourth year operating his own stable. His barn at Joie De Vie Farm in New Jersey typically numbers five to 10 horses. Lucky Weekend's appearance in the Kindergarten championship is Lakata's first trip to a Grand Circuit final with his own stable.

"Some weeks are great, and some are not so great," said a laughing Lakata, who grew up near Saratoga and began working with horses there after graduating from high school. "Sometimes you think you're a genius, and other times you look in the mirror and ask yourself if you know what you're doing. I've been doing it all my life, so I'm used to it.

"I don't think I could work indoors in an office. As soon as I started (with the horses) I liked it. You're around all kind of people and they all blend together. It's a lot of fun."

Lucky Weekend faces a field that includes 4-for-4 Seven Hills, trained by John Butenschoen, and Divine Spirit, trained by Brett Pelling. The horses, which were tied atop the Kindergarten standings, both enter the final off back-to-back wins in the series.

This will be Lucky Weekend's final start of the year.

"I think (Lucky Weekend) is as good as the others in there," Lakata said. "We'll find out. I hope he's as good this week as he was in his last start. He should be OK."

For Saturday's complete entries, click here.

For the Kindergarten standings, click here.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

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