06/24/2010 11:00PM

Cal-bred bonus puts owners in the black


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - They're out.

The partnership that owns Lucky Mr. K, winner of Wednesday's third race at Hollywood Park, has already recovered the $32,000 they paid for the colt at the 2009 Northern California yearling sale and a chunk of their subsequent costs.

Lucky Mr. K earned $24,600 for his impressive win, and the partners will receive an additional $20,000 as part of a bonus paid to California-breds who win maiden special weight races in Southern California.

The bonus, approved last year through legislation, was very much on co-owner Alan Klein's mind as he left the winner's circle Wednesday.

"We just got our money back on the first shot," he said.

More importantly, Lucky Mr. K ran like a colt who will be competitive in upcoming stakes.

Trained by Jeff Bonde, Lucky Mr. K was the 4-5 favorite in his debut. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Lucky Mr. K was fifth on the backstretch, took the lead before the eighth pole, and drew clear convincingly to win by 4 1/2 lengths, finishing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.28.

"This is going to be a good horse," Klein said.

The partnership has two $100,000 stakes for California-breds in mind for Lucky Mr. K at the upcoming Del Mar meeting -- the Graduation Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 4, and the I'm Smokin Stakes over six furlongs on Sept. 6.

"It makes a lot of sense," Klein said.

Klein co-owns Lucky Mr. K with Phil Lebherz, Angelo Ferro, and Rusty Brown.

Last summer, the colt topped the Northern California sale. Consigned by River Edge Farm, agent, the colt is by River Edge stallion Benchmark and is out of the Deputy Minister mare Brief Interlude.

Lucky Mr. K is a half-brother to Ran for the Dough, who won 3 of 29 starts and $225,186. Ran for the Dough was third in the 2004 Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar. Brief Interlude was unraced.

The bonus program was designed to increase the number of California-breds running in maiden special weight company instead of maiden claiming races. The number of horses winning the higher-class races has surprised promoters.

At the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting earlier this year, 40 California-breds won maiden special weight races compared with 30 in the 2008-09 meeting.

In Northern California, the bonus to a California-bred who wins a maiden special weight race is $10,000. There were 19 such winners at Golden Gate Fields from Dec. 26 through April 18 compared with 4 over a similar period in 2008-09. Those are the most recent statistics compiled by the CTBA, according to executive director Doug Burge.

"It's significantly higher than we imagined, both north and south," Burge said. "We've had good numbers at least through the first four months of the year."

CTBA officials have said that they hope the bonus will serve as an incentive for people to breed Thoroughbreds in California. In recent years, the number of Thoroughbreds bred in the state has declined.

Cayoke gets first winner as stallion

A win by Carat for C.C. in a maiden race for $8,000 claimers at the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton on June 19 gave the stallion Cayoke his first winner.

Carat for C.C. won a six-furlong race by a half-length in her ninth start for owner-breeder Bud Coppess.

Cayoke, 13, won 13 of 40 starts and $500,209. He won three stakes in France, including a Group 3 race in 2000, and two stakes in California -- the Harry Brubaker Handicap at Del Mar and the El Cielo Stakes at Santa Anita, both in 2004.

Cayoka stands for $1,000 at Abbott Ranch in Oro Grande, Calif.