01/05/2012 2:52PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Blind Luck

Benoit & Associates

Jack Nicklaus always liked to remind younger players that as tough as it was getting to the top, it was a whole lot tougher staying there. Blind Luck clinched her Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly of 2010 with a second-place finish to the older Unrivaled Belle in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs while beating fellow 3-year-old Havre de Grace in the process.

This followed three previous 2010 meetings in which narrow margins had separated Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, with Blind Luck winning the Delaware Oaks and Alabama and Havre de Grace the Cotillion. All slates were wiped clean for 2011, though, and the name of the tune for the emerging rivalry became, “What have you done lately.”

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

For Blind Luck the season was a little slow to catch fire. Racing on the newly installed, speed-favoring dirt track at Santa Anita, the champ was not able to cope with the breakaway tactics of Always a Princess in either the El Encino Stakes or the La Canada Stakes, both exclusively for 4-year-olds. There was some consolation, since Always a Princess was a pretty good filly in her own right. But expectations were high for Blind Luck, and a pair of fast-closing seconds were not what her fans had in mind.

For her third start of the year Blind Luck was sent to Oaklawn Park for the Azeri Stakes, a modest little prep for the important Apple Blossom a month down the road. Who should show up for the Azeri, though, but Havre de Grace, breathing fire for her new trainer, Larry Jones. Blind Luck was still chasing her rival at the end, 3 1/4 lengths behind in second again.

Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck’s trainer and part-owner, was far from discouraged. Returning to the scene of her victory in the 2010 Kentucky Oaks was just the ticket, and Blind Luck responded with a half-length score over Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

After that it was back to California for an efficient score over Santa Monica winner Switch and Santa Margarita winner Miss Match in the Vanity Handicap. Blind Luck was clearly back in top form, but she had to be in order to answer her next challenge – the July 16 Delaware Handicap at 1 1/4 miles against Havre de Grace.

History will show that Blind Luck, carrying two pounds fewer, defeated Havre de Grace by a nose. A more dead-even rivalry is hard to imagine, with the difference in their six encounters coming down to a matter of inches. Unfortunately, the Delaware Handicap proved to be the last real hurrah for Blind Luck.

Having been in solid training and racing for nearly two years, she got a brief break back home in California. Hollendorfer then brought her back in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita in October and watched aghast as she trailed the field throughout, a shadow of her true self. Soon after it was announced that she would not be contesting a Breeders’ Cup race and in fact would be sold at the Keeneland November auction of prime bloodstock.

The hammer fell at $2.5 million, although it was part owner Mark DeDomenico who bought out partners John Carver, Peter Abruzzo, and Hollendorfer. Blind Luck, a daughter of Pollard’s Vision bred by Fairlawn Farm, retired with 12 wins in 22 starts and earnings of $3,279,520. Garrett Gomez rode her to all three of her 2011 wins.

Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
10/01/11 SA Lady's Secret 7th 1 1/16 mile 1:41.59 62 Video
7/16/11 DEL Delaware Handicap 1st 1 1/4 mile 2:01.20 106 Video
6/18/11 HOL Vanity Handicap 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:50.80 96 Video
5/06/11 CD La Troienne 1st 1 1/16 mile 1:42.80 94 Video
3/19/11 OP Azeri 2nd 1 1/16 Mile 1:42.00 99 Video
2/13/11 SA La Canada 2nd 1 1/8 Mile 1:48.20 85 Video
1/16/11 SA El Encino 2nd 1 1/16 Mile 1:41.40 84 Video

Blind Luck

Breeder: Fairlawn Farm 
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Owner: Mark DeDomenico LLC, Carver, John, Abruzzo, Peter and Hollendorfer, Jerry
Record: 22-12-7-2
Best Beyer: 106