The 4-year-old chestnut Accelerate certainly outperformed expectations with his victory in Saturday's Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Already a winner at the G2 level and now an earner of $607,480, Accelerate placed third in the G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last year, but few thought he had a chance against champion Arrogate. The gray son of Unbridled's Song hadn't been beaten since his debut more than a year ago, when he finished third to Westbrook and Accelerate.
Both colts have notably improved with maturity, and Accelerate put up the best performance of his career to date, even if you put a strike through the result for Arrogate. Allowing that Arrogate ran a stinker for unknown reasons, the winner crushed his other opponents, was 8 ½ lengths ahead of second-place Donworth.
In similar fashion to the San Diego Handicap winner, Accelerate's sire, champion racer Lookin at Lucky (by Smart Strike), has been exceeding expectations as a sire, even though he's gotten little recognition for it.
A top-tier racer who was champion at 2, then won the Preakness Stakes at 3, when he repeated as the champion of his division, Lookin at Lucky won five times at the G1 level and earned $3.3 million. Sound, game, and consistent, the bay son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike had more precocity than Smart Strike's other champion son Curlin, Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Curlin, as time has proven, is one of the most respected influences for classic performance and reliable stamina in American breeding. From the stallion's first crop came Belmont Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, and subsequent crops have resulted in Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, champion filly Stellar Wind, Curalina (Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Keen Ice (Travers), Off the Tracks (Mother Goose), and current season star Irish War Cry (Wood Memorial and second in the Belmont Stakes).
Those are the horses the breeding and buying public want: the stars and classic contenders. And the breeders and buyers pay when a horse delivers them.
For the 2017 season, Curlin stood at Hill 'n' Dale Farm for $150,000 live foal.
So where does that leave Lookin at Lucky?
Rather as a vaguely forgotten sire. One can't say the stretchy, good-looking bay is laboring in obscurity with a stud fee of $17,500 because that is quite respectable in the contemporary market that values first-year sires with impeccable credentials and proven sires of champions.
Anything in between is dicey.
So the effect of Accelerate can only be beneficial to Lookin at Lucky, who is having a good year here in the States but is having an absolute banner year in Chile. Shuttled there like fellow Ashford stallion Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), Lookin at Lucky has lit up the results board in Chile much like his ill-fated companion at Ashford Stud.
This year alone, Lookin at Lucky has three G1 winners in Chilean racing: the 2-year-old Wow Cat (Tanteo de Pontrancas) and the 3-year-olds Kurilov (Gran Premio Hipodromo Chile) and Full of Luck (El Derby).
As we have seen with the progeny of both Smart Strike and Curlin, maturity improves this line of horses, and there is promise that Lookin at Lucky may follow suit.
Certainly, Accelerate has shown consistency this year, with all five starts in the money. Two seconds and two thirds, plus the victory in the San Diego. Four of those five starts came in graded company, and as a May foal, Accelerate could have further improvement both this year and next.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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