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Sparkman: Accelerate helps sire Lookin At Lucky enjoy breakout weekend

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Benoit Photo
Accelerate takes the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday, giving his sire, Lookin At Lucky, his first Grade 1 win in the U.S.

In the fickle and hyper-competitive world of Thoroughbred stallions, failure to produce Grade 1 winners and fast 2-year-olds in a horse’s first crop to reach the races is too often a ticket to quick export to faraway lands. With hot new stallions retiring to stud every year, patience is not a virtue cultivated by either stallion managers or the yearling market.

Dual champion Lookin At Lucky has, so far, managed to avoid that fate, and the patience Coolmore has shown with him is finally paying off. The son of Smart Strike reached new heights on Saturday when his 5-year-old son Accelerate captured the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on the same day his 6-year-old son Money Multiplier won the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes.

Lookin At Lucky himself was far from a late developer. Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, Lookin At Lucky failed to meet his reserve at only $35,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale due to a clubby left front foot and rather marked toeing out in front. Gulf Coast’s owners, Jerry Bailey and Lance Robinson, wheeled him back at the 2009 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training where a fast workout elicited a $475,000 bid from trainer Bob Baffert on behalf of Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman.

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He won his debut three months later at Hollywood Park and followed up by winning the Grade 2 Best Pal, Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes in quick succession. He was unlucky not to add the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to that sequence, racing wide on both turns and falling a head short of Vale of York after brushing with him while rallying in deep stretch. But victory in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity a month later assured him of the 2-year-old male championship.

Lookin At Lucky won his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn, then was third behind Sidney’s Candy in the Santa Anita Derby. He drew the dreaded post 1 for the Kentucky Derby, and was forced into the rail in the sprint to the first turn, falling far back on a sloppy track before rallying to finish a very good sixth. After easy victories in the Preakness, Haskell Invitational, and Indiana Derby, Lookin At Lucky faced the great Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and ran with credit, battling Blame for the lead in the early stretch before fading slightly in the final yards to fourth.

Lookin At Lucky’s career record of nine wins in 13 starts and championships at both 2 and 3 were about as good as any horse of the last decade, and despite his leg faults, he is an imposing, very powerful, lengthy horse, who tends to sire big but rather plain yearlings, which has worked against him in the marketplace. His first crop included multiple Grade 2 winner Madefromlucky (out of Home from Oz, by Pulpit), as well as Money Multiplier (Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song), who did not win his first stakes until last year.

Accelerate (Issues, by Awesome Again) is from his second crop, and won the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby at 3, but really came into his own this year at 5 when he captured the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. That was the first American Grade 1 winner for Lookin At Lucky, though he has sired four Group 1 winners in Chile where he was leading sire last year, led by champion Wow Cat (Winter Cat, by Cat Thief).

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, Accelerate is the fourth foal and third stakes winner produced by the stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Issues. Her second foal, Amarish, by Scat Daddy, won the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes, and her third, Daddy D T, by Scat Daddy, won the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf. Accelerate was a $380,000 yearling purchase in the name of L.E.B. and races for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler. His 2-year-old half-brother by Bernardini named Communicator sold for $300,000 to Twin Creeks Racing at Keeneland last year, and Issues has a yearling full brother to that colt. The family was developed primarily by the late Fred W. Hooper and includes Grade 1 winner Wagon Limit.

Lookin At Lucky has now sired 39 stakes winners from 515 foals age 3 and up, and stands 17th on the 2018 general sire list. Although his offspring do not fit the current demand for precocity, those statistics make his $57,000 average at last year’s Keeneland September yearling auction look like a major bargain in the long run.

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Photo Credits:   Vassar Photography (Northern CA)  |  Benoit Photo (Southern CA)  |  Michael J. Marten (Southern CA)

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