05/05/2010 11:00PM

Blind Luck's win puts focus on sire

Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. - "We're still smiling," John Greely IV said Thursday when he answered the phone at Wintergreen Stallion Station in Midway, Ky.

They're smiling because of Blind Luck's hard-fought victory over Evening Jewel in the Kentucky Oaks. The win made Wintergreen stallion Pollard's Vision the sire of a classic winner from his first crop. That's a remarkable achievement for any sire, but especially one who stands for the relatively low fee of $10,000.

On her way to the Oaks winner's circle this season, Blind Luck also captured the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet and Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. Her sire is now ranked second among second-crop stallions by progeny earnings, only $27,000 behind Florida-based Wildcat Heir.

"She's been a huge calling card," said David Moore, who raced Pollard's Vision and now owns the largest percentage of the 9-year-old Carson City horse.

Pollard's Vision, one of six Wintergreen stallions, has a 2010 book of 160 mares and will shuttle for the first time this summer for the Southern Hemisphere season at Argentina's La Mission.

Pollard's Vision goes back a long way with Wintergreen. The farm's co-owners, Greely and his brother, trainer Beau Greely, were building their stud barn in 2002 when Pollard's Vision was a yearling in a paddock adjacent to the construction site. In the paddock with him were future dual Grade 1 winner Borrego (now also a Wintergreen stallion) and future Japanese Derby winner Personal Rush.

The Greelys had high hopes for Pollard's Vision, a son of the Dixieland Band mare Etats Unis, as a sale yearling that summer. He'd been selected into the Keeneland July yearling auction, but right around Kentucky Derby time in 2002, Pollard's Vision turned up with a cloudy right eye. It was uveitis, one of the lesser-reported effects of mare reproductive loss syndrome.

"With MRLS, you saw mares abort, hypoxic foals, and fluid around the heart, and there were about 40 cases of horses going blind in one eye," Greely, 44, said. "He had such toughness and determination, it didn't bother him as a racehorse, although Todd Pletcher's father told me he thought that if Pollard had had vision in both eyes he'd have done even better on the racetrack."

Pollard's Vision sold instead at the 2003 Keeneland April juvenile sale, where Moore bought him for $70,000. Moore, now 53, wasn't put off by the eye: he himself is blind in his left eye, the result of a cornea injury during a beach volleyball game.

"I don't have have any problem and still play a lot of sports," said Moore, who retired from Wall Street in 2000. "I knew from personal experience you can do well with blindness in one eye. He just had a look of determination about him, and I love Carson Citys."

Pollard's Vision won four graded stakes, most notably the Grade 2 Illinois Derby, and placed in seven others, including a pair of Grade 1 events. He retired a millionaire after 23 lifetime starts, and Moore sent him back to the Greely brothers to stand him at their new stallion operation.

"David knew that when people would come to see Pollard and we pulled him out of the stall, he wouldn't be just another horse," John Greely said. "We had a story to tell, and we had a vested interest in Pollard. He's like one of our children."

When they syndicated Pollard's Vision in 2008, they heavily recruited breeders who also would support the sire - a move Greely says has paid off for everyone concerned.

"David allowed us to structure the terms of the syndicate so favorably towards people who wanted to buy shares that we had him syndicated in 48 hours," Greely recalled. "The people recouped their investment in two years, and they were able to pay for it in a two-year period. David's a practical man, and he said, for him, it's more important to make Pollard a success in the long run than to make money in the short run."

Moore has bred his own mares to Pollard's Vision as well and says that about a third of his 12-horse stable are Pollard's Vision horses he either bred or purchased. That includes a couple of promising fillies he expects to run this summer: juvenile Joonbi and 3-year-old Glory in Motion. Among other runners he thinks could burnish Pollard's Vision's name this summer are Vertical Vision, one of the sire's five stakes winners last year, and new runner Blind Hope.

Those might help keep Pollard's Vision on the radar screen, but Blind Luck deserves credit for putting him there.

"A runner like her means everything," Greely said. "Not many stallions can boast a classic winner in their first crop. For an operation our size, it means the world."