10/26/2006 11:00PM

Lady luck has shined on Lunsford

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There is a saying in racing that suggests that for owners to succeed they need to surround themselves with the best company and place their horses in the worst. But owner Bruce Lunsford has excelled merely by following the first half of that strategy.

For the second year in a row, Lunsford will have a Breeder's Cup starter. The Lunsford-owned Bel Air Beauty, winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes, is set to start against the likes of Cash Included and Dreaming of Anna in next Saturday's Juvenile Fillies, following a year in which Champagne Stakes winner First Samurai finished third in the Juvenile for Lunsford and business partner Lansdon Robbins III.

In a sport where on average foals by the nation's best sires have only a 3 to 4 percent chance of becoming graded winners, Lunsford is defying the odds. Besides Bel Air Beauty and First Samurai, he has owned such top performers as millionaire Madcap Escapade and 1999 Illinois Derby winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up Vision and Verse.

"He's been on a hell of a run," said Bel Air Beauty's trainer, Frank Brothers, who along with Bill Mott trains the bulk of Lunsford's horses.

Brothers attributes Lunsford's success to good fortune, his passion for the game, and his faith in his advisors. Lunsford seeks the guidance of Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm in planning the matings of his 12 broodmares, and allows his trainers to focus on selecting yearlings and racing horses.

Hancock insists Lunsford is not a passive participant. Lunsford throws ideas by him when it comes to breedings, and closely monitors racing across the country, Hancock said.

Not that Lunsford, a 58-year-old self-described business entrepreneur from Louisville, can claim to have always made the right move - he said he regrets selling Golden Missile, a horse he bred that went on to earn $2.1 million and become a sire. He also sold Arravale, winner of this year's Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes. But he can take comfort in knowing that her success has elevated the value of her dam, Kalosca, whom Lunsford still owns.

Boosting the value of his broodmare band remains a major goal of his business plan. He seeks to begin each year with 12 or so yearlings, mostly fillies, cull that number by about half to focus on the better quality ones, and aim to win stakes that can make them valuable broodmare prospects.

Bel Air Beauty is an example of the strategy working. A $210,000 yearling purchase last year, she ran second in her first start, which came over Polytrack at Turfway Park on Sept. 9, and then scored an upset win in the Oct. 6 Alcibiades over Polytrack at Keeneland at odds of 47-1.

Saturday in the Juvenile Fillies, she will try to prove that she simply isn't a Polytrack specialist. That will be Bel Air Beauty's first race on dirt, but her trainer and owner are confident in her ability to handle the Churchill Downs main track, a surface on which she has trained throughout the year.

Where will 'Anna' work?

Wet weather in the Kentucky area on Friday had trainer Wayne Catalano weighing his options with Dreaming of Anna. He said Friday that he is undecided whether to work Dreaming of Anna Sunday at Churchill Downs or that same day over Polytrack at Keeneland. She is based at Keeneland, and the surface there is always fast due to its synthetic composition and drainage system.