12/21/2016 10:50AM

California Chrome pushes Lucky Pulpit to top of California sire ranks

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Ron Mesaros
Powered by California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit enjoyed a record-setting 2016 season.

Lucky Pulpit’s reign atop the California sire ranks was cemented less than a quarter of the way through 2016, as California Chrome stormed down the stretch to dominate the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

The victory in what was then the world’s richest race helped California Chrome become North America’s all-time leading earner, with career earnings standing at $14.5 million following his win in the Los Alamitos Winter Challenge on Dec. 17.

With his champion son powering him, Lucky Pulpit bankrolled a staggering $10,705,253 from all his runners combined through that date to lead the California general sires list, with 75 winners from 161 starters.

Lucky Pulpit not only outdistanced the next stallions on the earnings list – California newcomer Bluegrass Cat ($5,509,827), the pensioned Unusual Heat ($3,613,115), and the late Tribal Rule ($3,230,802) – he also shattered Unusual Heat’s single-season California record for progeny earnings of $5.8 million.

Lucky Pulpit, by Pulpit, raced as a homebred for Idaho-based owners Larry and Marianne Williams, who purchased his dam, the winning Cozzene mare Lucky Soph, for $200,000 carrying the colt at the 2000 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Grade 3-placed on turf as a juvenile, Lucky Pulpit was briefly on the classics trail the following spring, finishing second in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina at 1 1/16 miles before running unplaced in the San Rafael and the Santa Anita Derby.

He returned to turf that summer and spent the majority of his remaining racing career on that surface, including a victory in the 2005 Smile Stakes going five furlongs at Arlington Park. In all, he won or placed in seven stakes, bankrolling $209,928.

Lucky Pulpit entered stud at John Harris’s Harris Farms for the 2007 season, and his pedigree provided plenty of clues to his future stud success. Pulpit’s other sons at stud include North America’s reigning leading sire Tapit. Lucky Soph is a half-sister to Trolley Song, dam of the late Unbridled’s Song, a multiple Grade 1 winner and very successful sire. Lucky Soph also is the dam of another useful regional sire, Drewman, who stands at Dutchway Farm in Ohio and is represented by runners such as Grade 3 winner Cigar Man.

Lucky Pulpit is the sire of seven career stakes winners and another 12 stakes-placed runners. In addition to California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit’s other standouts in 2016 included stakes-winning juvenile You’re Late and stakes-placed older horses Fantasy of Luck and Floating Feather. Powered by You’re Late, Lucky Pulpit finished third on California’s juvenile sire list, boding well for the future. He also was his state’s leading synthetic-surface sire.

Leading juvenile sire

Owner J. Paul Reddam’s continued faith in his former colorbearer Square Eddie continues to be rewarded as, powered by several stakes-performing homebreds, the stallion is California’s leading juvenile sire for the second year in a row.

Square Eddie, by Smart Strike, was Group 3-placed in England as a juvenile before Reddam brought him to the United States, where he won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He was multiple graded stakes-placed in 2009, although his season was marked by disappointment – he missed the Triple Crown series due to cannon bone issues and was later retired with a suspensory injury.

Reddam backed Square Eddie with his own mares during the horse’s initial season in 2010 – producing a small crop that, led by multiple stakes winner Sprouts, made Square Eddie California’s leading freshman sire of 2013.

Recovered from his suspensory injury, Square Eddie made a brief return to the races in 2011, establishing a track record at Santa Anita before going winless the rest of the season. He finally returned to farm life for good for the 2012 season and now stands at Ocean Breeze Ranch in Bonsall, Calif.

Reddam has continued to strongly support Square Eddie at stud, with outstanding results the last two years. Last year, the owner campaigned Grade 1-winning homebred Ralis, along with stakes winners Found Money and Mrazek to put their sire atop the juvenile earnings list.

This season, Square Eddie has recorded seven winners from 12 juvenile starters through Dec. 11 for a bankroll of $662,970, again easily outpacing the rest of the state’s juvenile sires. He also finished fifth on both the general sires list and turf earnings list.

His young runners this season are led by Reddam homebreds How About Zero, winner of the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes; and Graduation Stakes winner Green With Eddie. Reddam also bred and campaigns Ann Arbor Eddie, who was third to Mastery in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes and won the $100,000 King Glorious at Los Alamitos; and multiple stakes-placed Rinse and Repeat.

Leading freshman sire

A well-bred young stallion, a multiple Grade 1 winner, and a statebred Eclipse Award winner lead the way on California’s freshman sire list for 2016.

Empire Way, who stands at Lovacres Ranch, was the state’s leading freshman by earnings through Dec. 11, with four winners from 11 starters for a bankroll of $220,716. The Empire Maker horse, who won once from 12 career starts, is a full brother to champion Royal Delta as well as a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Crown Queen.

Meanwhile, multiple Grade 1 winner Coil, standing at Magali Farms, leads the group by winners, with six finding the winner’s circle from 16 starters for earnings of $176,447.

Coil, a millionaire son of Point Given, was a Grade 1 winner both sprinting and routing, taking the 2011 Haskell Invitational and following up with the next season’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

Third on the freshman list by earnings was California-bred Acclamation, the Eclipse Award champion older male of 2011. The Old English Rancho stallion recorded three winners from eight starters for earnings of $133,260.

Turf sires

Even though he was pensioned earlier this year, Unusual Heat continues his unprecedented run atop California’s turf sire ranks, recording 30 winners on the surface for earnings of $2,285,037.

The 26-year-old Unusual Heat, who resides at Harris Farms, has been California’s leading turf sire for 13 straight years, beginning in 2004. The state’s leading general sire from 2008-13, he is California’s all-time leading earner by total progeny earnings, having earlier this year surpassed the $50 million milestone.

Next on the turf earnings list for stallions with California-sired runners is Old English Rancho’s Vronsky, whose season was powered by What a View, winner of three stakes, including the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile.