By Frank Mitchell
A month ago, neither the sponsor of this column nor the Paulick Report could have imagined the run of luck awaiting all of us in the May classics.
In the intervening weeks, the Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver was out of a mare by Lane's End stallion A.P. Indy, the Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky is by Lane's End stallion Smart Strike and out of a mare by farm stallion Belong to Me, the Preakness second is by Lane's End stallion Stephen Got Even, another son of farm stalwart A.P. Indy, and farm owner Will Farish is co-breeder of the dams of both the Preakness winner and the Dwyer winner, Fly Down, a likely prospect for the Belmont Stakes.
We are “lookin at lucky” on more levels than I can count.
With a second Preakness Stakes winner, the Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike confirmed himself as one of the most powerful sons of his sire at stud. The stallion's first classic winner was Horse of the Year Curlin, narrowly beaten in the Belmont Stakes before his championship success in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and Smart Strike is well represented this year with such additional racers as Strike a Deal, who won the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap on the Preakness card at Pimlico.
A beautifully pedigreed son of Mr. Prospector bred by Sam-Son Farm, Smart Strike was a high-class racehorse who nonetheless left some questions about how good he might have been. A winner in six of eight starts, Smart Strike won the Grade 1 Iselin Handicap for his most important success.
As a stallion, Smart Strike has been solid but was not an early commercial home run hitter. Veterinarian Jerry Bailey, who bred Lookin At Lucky with Lance Robinson in the name of their Gulf Coast Farms, noted that the stallion's offspring tend to improve with age, both in looks and buyer appeal.
That is not the formula for commercial success among unproven sires. However, now that Smart Strike is a proven commodity, his offspring are making better returns for breeders.
That wasn't the case even two years ago for Bailey and Robinson at the Keeneland September yearling sale, where they had to take him home for a hammer price of $35,000. But they had the wherewithal and flexibility to bring him back as a 2-year-old in training, when he made $475,000 at the Keeneland April sale of juveniles.
The backbone of that price increase was the progress that Lookin At Lucky had made from a yearling to a 2-year-old. He had grown and strengthened from an acceptable but somewhat average “nice” yearling to being what BreezeFigs guru Jay Kilgore called “the best 2-year-old I saw last year.”
His progress shown in motion analysis video at the breeze shows was manifest in graded stakes competition in the summer and fall last year, and Lookin At Lucky's successes, added to the graded victory of his half-brother Kensei (by Mr. Greeley), made their dam, the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, a hot property indeed.
At the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale last fall, she sold to Live Oak Stud for $2 million as a young producer of top-level performers.
The mare was then a 10-year-old. She was bred by Farish and Temple Webber Jr., and she earned $18,245 from two victories in seven starts. That was a decent record but nothing to promote her as the dam of multiple graded stakes winners.
Private Feeling is one of those mares who require the progeny test to verify whether they will become producers of merit, and she has passed that test with high distinction.
The mare's second dam, the Native Charger mare Sharp Belle, was a notably better racemare, winning 10 races, including the Grade 1 Monmouth Oaks.
This is a line of producers from a good-class family. Sharp Belle's fifth dam is the stakes-winning mare Nectarine, a full sister to the great sire Bull Lea, the cornerstone of Calumet Farm's success in the 1940s and 1950s.
In addition to these historical connections to high-class performance, there is a pedigree pattern of note in the ancestry of Lookin At Lucky. He has a half-dozen lines of the great racehorse and sire Native Dancer in his pedigree. Five of them come through Private Feeling, who also has an additional line of Native Dancer's grandsire Unbreakable.
Native Dancer has proven an increasingly important sire over the past 50 years. He was the sire of Raise a Native, whose sons Mr. Prospector and Alydar sired international champions, and other sons and daughters of Native Dancer litter pedigrees around the world with speed and strength.
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 a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
Copyright © 2010, Frank Mitchell
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