By Frank Mitchell
The flashy chestnut filly Blind Luck took her fifth Grade 1 victory with a game success in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday and is the leader of her division. The Alabama was the filly's third G1 this season, following the Las Virgenes and Kentucky Oaks.
Her immediate victim in the last two of those races was the classy Northern Afleet filly Evening Jewel, who later the same afternoon won the G1 Del Mar Oaks, her second victory at the premier level this season.
So, Blind Luck is anything but a chancy proposition. She is consistent, game, and has defeated all the best in her division, including her principal challenger, Devil May Care (by Malibu Moon), who finished fourth in the Alabama.
A good-sized and good-looking daughter from the first crop sired by Pollard's Vision (by Carson City) out of Lucky One, by Best of Luck, Blind Luck is a breeder's dream.
She was bred in Kentucky by the Fairlawn Farm of Bill Baker, DVM, and his wife Terry. The Bakers bought the dam of Blind Luck out of a $15,000 claiming race and had to shake for her.
“We were lucky to get her,” Dr. Baker said. “I knew her half-brother Ethan Man because I treated him on the racetrack, and he had ability, despite some problems. So that made me like her more, and she was a big, good-looking filly of the sort that we like to breed from.”
Lucky One was indeed an attractive filly. Sold as a yearling when Ethan Man was already a graded stakes winner, she brought $77,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale of yearlings. That is not the most robust venue for selling a good filly, but Lucky One brought the highest price of the year for a yearling by her sire.
On the racetrack, she wasn't especially lucky, however. The winner of a single race, Lucky One earned $26,916 from 15 starts, but Baker wasn't buying her for long-term racing purposes. He was looking for a broodmare.
Not only that, but the Bakers weren't the only ones who liked Lucky One. When the filly's previous owners, Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein, dropped her in for $15,000 claiming that day, Baker recalled that “we got her on a shake because there were several claims for her. Then we tried to run her, she didn't perform well,” and the filly switched careers and went to stud, where she is one of a half-dozen mares the Bakers keep at Fairlawn.
In her initial breeding season, Baker didn't have much luck with Lucky One. He recalled that “we bred her to the Wintergreen Farm stallion Five Star Day three times, which was my limit, then changed over to Pollard's Vision, and on the first cover she got in foal to him. So it's been blind luck the whole time,” he concluded, “but I'll take it however I get it in this business.”
The breeders' luck didn't hold when they presented the chestnut yearling filly at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of selected yearlings. Blind Luck had to be a good prospect to make the cut into the sale, and Baker recalled that “she had a good stride, deep heart girth, was big enough, with no veterinary issues, but we couldn't get her sold” for the cost of production.
With a $7,500 stud fee and an estimated cost of about $15,000 to maintain the mare and then raise the foal, a breeder would have needed to net something like $22,500 to break even. At the yearling sale, Fairlawn sold their yearling by Pollard's Vision for $11,000 to Juvenal Diaz.
Diaz then tried to pinhook the filly at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's April auction of 2-year-olds in training last year.
While in Ocala at the OBS April sale this spring, I talked to Diaz about Blind Luck, who was bought back for $10,000.
Diaz told me the filly “prepped well, had no problems, then had a good work but not a spectacular” one. And there was nobody to buy her. So he finished off her training, and when she blew away a field in a $40,000 maiden claiming race by 13 1/4 lengths at Calder on June 21, the buyers showed up.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer bought her for a partnership, and Blind Luck races for Mark DeDomenico, John Carver, Peter Abruzzo, and Hollendorfer. Since she started racing, Blind Luck has put all the bad luck behind her. She has won nine of 13 starts, with two seconds and two thirds, and has earned more than $1.8 million.
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