“You don’t know from year to year whether you will have a horse that can run in the Mile. Who knows, I might not have another horse like that again in my career. So to lose by a head bob was very disappointing.”After that narrow miss, Winning Machine was sent to Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., where he’peted against some of the best horses in the country. In the Grade I Awesome Again stakes in September, he set the early pace but faded to sixth of nine.The horse got an extended break after that, returning to action at Emerald in April.
He is winless in four tries this year, with a second and a third, but Lucarelli said the horse is happy, healthy and just as good as last year.Lucarelli blames himself for a couple of the losses, saying he made bad strategic decisions.Sunday’s task was not made easier when Winning Machine drew the No. 12 post position, which partially explains why the horse is 15-1 on the morning line.But drawing the far outside made Sunday’s strategy straightforward. Lucarelli wants jockey Javier Matias to run the horse hard into the first turn while trying to get a spot where he is not forced too wide.
With Winning Machine’s good early speed, he has a chance to make that happen.”If you asked every trainer in the race which post they least wanted to have, I think they all would have said post No. 12,” Lucarelli said. “But we’ll be loading last, and we should be able to get in and out of there pretty quickly. Hopefully, he’ll be on his toes and ready to run. If he just had stalking speed, he would be in a rough spot. But he has enough speed and if we got the best horse, I think he can win.”Coldwater won the first Mile in 1935 from the No. 12 post. It took 74 years for the next winner from post No. 12, when Assessment did it in 2009.