02/15/2017 11:20AM

Breeders scrambling to find alternatives to Lucky Pulpit

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rousing Sermon is the only son of Lucky Pulpit at stud in California.

The sudden death of Lucky Pulpit, among the most active stallions in California in recent years, will have a number of mare owners hustling to make timely alternate plans as the breeding season begins.

Lucky Pulpit has only one son at stud in California – Rousing Sermon, who is starting his second season at Rancho San Miguel for an advertised fee of $3,000. Rousing Sermon covered 16 mares in 2016, according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred. A multiple stakes winner who bankrolled $821,572, Rousing Sermon placed in four graded stakes, including a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.

“Rousing Sermon was a horse with heart and determination to compete and win in the upper levels of racing,” Rancho San Miguel farm manager Clay Murdock said. “He is an attractive and balanced horse with a beautiful stride.”

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Rousing Sermon stands in a unique position to benefit from mare owners looking to stay with Lucky Pulpit’s immediate line, because all of Lucky Pulpit’s other close relatives stand too far away from the California market to become practical choices. California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit’s only other son at stud, is, of course, entering stallion duty at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. Lucky Pulpit’s half-brother Drewman, a fairly successful regional sire, stands at Dutchlane Farm in Ohio. Another half-brother, Lucks Mine, most recently stood in Idaho.

Lucky Pulpit is a son of the late Pulpit, sire of three-time North American-leading sire Tapit. Lucky Pulpit is the only son of Pulpit at stud in California. Others from the same A.P. Indy sireline available in the state include Indy Film (San Lee Ranch), Indy Pacific (Chris-Mar Farms), Mesa Thunder (Paradise Road Ranch), Northern Indy (Paradise Road Ranch), Sundarban (Milky Way Farm), Time to Get Even (Lovacres Ranch), Under Caution (Daehling Ranch), and World Renowned (Brazeau Thoroughbred Farms).

Another young California stallion, Finnegans Wake, also is in position to add mares to his book following Lucky Pulpit’s sudden death. The Grade 1-winning millionaire enters stud this year at Ballena Vista Farm for owner Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch. A day after the death of Lucky Pulpit, Hartunian announced that all broodmares who had been booked to the leading sire were eligible to receive a free season to Finnegans Wake.

“Lucky Pulpit has been synonymous with ‘California stallion’ for years,” Hartunian said. “He has done so much for Cal-bred racing. I wanted to do something to help pay his legacy forward. It makes me feel good that I could offer some relief to my fellow Cal-bred owners who have been affected by this tragedy.”

Some breeders in Kentucky also have had to make alternate plans due to the unavailability of another son of Pulpit. Multiple Grade 1 winner Lord Nelson was preparing to stand his first season at Spendthrift Farm, where he was to be included in the farm’s pioneering Share the Upside breeder incentive program. But in late January the farm announced that he would miss the season after developing laminitis as a complication from a leg injury and infection suffered last fall. Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey said Lord Nelson had a full book of mares.

Among those planning to breed a mare to Lord Nelson was George Adams of Housatonic Bloodstock, who had booked I’m Engaged, a Broken Vow mare from the family of champions Flanders and Surfside. Rather than staying with the Pulpit or A.P. Indy line when Lord Nelson was declared unavailable, Adams went in a different direction, booking I’m Engaged to Declaration of War at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud. The War Front stallion represents a return to the Danzig line for I’m Engaged, who was bred to Exchange Rate in 2015 and The Factor in 2016.

“As a medium-sized, feminine mare who has thrown good-sized foals, I’m Engaged should be a nice ‘like-to-like’ physical match for Declaration of War, who will hopefully contribute plenty of bone and substance to their foal,” Adams wrote on his blog, which shares the reasoning behind the Housatonic matings.