07/24/2007 11:00PM

Lady Blue Sky having perfect year


PHILADELPHIA - With Street Sense and Curlin coming back to the races in bids for Horse of the Year, the national focus will be on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners. Nothing against those two admirable colts, but neither is remotely as accomplished as Lady Blue Sky, a 5-year old mare, who is clearly the best Indiana-bred since Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird.

Street Sense and Curlin have lost races in 2007. Lady Blue Sky has not. She has been to the post seven times and won them all. Street Sense has been ridden by the same jockey and trained by the same man during his entire career. Lady Blue Sky has been ridden by 17 different jockeys and trained by five different men. Curlin was sold for millions. Lady Blue Sky has been claimed for $12,500, $35,000, and $5,000. Really, which is the bigger bargain?

Lady Blue Sky has won races at Calder, Penn National, Delaware Park, Hoosier, Philadelphia Park, Mountaineer, Charles Town, Fair Grounds, Delta Downs, Evangeline, Indiana Downs, and Prairie Meadows. All told, Lady Blue Sky has raced at 14 different tracks. She raced three times each at Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct without winning. She's won everywhere else she's been.

Lady Blue Sky made her debut on Dec. 17, 2004, at Calder. She finished fourth in a maiden $16,000 race, earning a 41 Beyer. She has been to the post 31 times with 16 wins and 7 seconds. She has earned $272,535. Her career-high Beyer is an 86, which came in a second-place finish on Aug. 21, 2005, at Delaware Park.

Lady Blue Sky, who has been racing at Prairie Meadows, is working on a nine-race winning streak going back to a win at Hoosier on Oct. 6, 2006. Current trainer Don Roberson claimed Lady Blue Sky for $5,000 at Mountaineer on June 10, 2006. It was the cheapest claiming price of Lady Blue Sky's career.

In her three races right after the claim, Lady Blue Sky finished third, second, and third. Then, she started winning and winning and winning. The streak includes wins at Prairie, Indiana, Evangeline, Delta, Fair Grounds, Charles Town, and Hoosier. Think Street Sense or Curlin could keep that kind of schedule?

During the streak, Lady Blue Sky's Beyers started at 65 and 57. Since then, she has been remarkably consistent, getting Beyers of 84, 80, 80, 78, 72, 76, and 78 in her perfect 2007. She has been no bargain at the windows lately. She was 13-1 in her first start this year. Since then, she has been 3-5, 4-5, 2-5, 1-1, 3-10, and 2-5 - a very good single in any multi-race wager, to be sure.

Lady Blue Sky has won three Indiana-bred stakes and finished second in two others. In fact, without any known contrary evidence, I am pronouncing her as the greatest Indiana-bred of all time.

So, as you watch Street Sense in the Jim Dandy Stakes this weekend and Curlin in next weekend's Haskell Invitational, do not forget Lady Blue Sky. We know Calvin Borel and Robby Albarado are terrific riders. We also know that neither is among the 17 jockeys to have ridden Lady Blue Sky. So what have they really done?

Sure, Curlin was admirable during the Triple Crown with a third, first, and second. Street Sense was great in the Derby, inches away from the Preakness. But they do know losing.

Lady Blue Sky knows winning. She has won on the lead. She has won prompting the pace. She has won coming from the back. She has won at five furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, six furlongs, seven furlongs, a mile, and a mile and a sixteenth. She has won 14 times on fast tracks, twice on wet tracks. She has not raced on the grass or a synthetic surface.

A daughter of Bidding Proud out of Jimmy's Blue Sky, Lady Blue Sky probably isn't going to wind up in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps she should. Her sire stands for $500. Neither sire nor dam is likely for the Hall. But breeder Heidi J. Crane put them together and got a mare that just keeps winning. Seems like a date to consider for Storm Cat if Lady Blue Sky ever stops winning.