02/13/2017 10:55PM

Lucky Pulpit, sire of California Chrome, dies at 16

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Emily Shields
Lucky Puplit, the sire of California Chrome, died at the age of 16.

California stallion Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, has died of a heart attack at age 16.  

The Pulpit stallion was covering his first mare of the season at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., which he had called home for the past decade, when he collapsed. Farm manager David McGlothlin and stallion manager Raul Rosa were there when it happened, according to a statement from Harris Farms.

“Lucky Pulpit hit home run after home run with his offspring, both in the sales ring and on the racetrack, and from early on we had a glimpse of what he would become as a sire,” McGlothlin said.

According to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred, Lucky Pulpit covered 44 mares in 2016 for what will be his final full crop, arriving this year.

Lucky 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 eighth in the San Rafael and seventh in the Santa Anita Derby. He returned to turf that summer and spent the majority of his remaining racing career on it, 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 got off to a fast start as California's leading freshman sire of 2010. It was no surprise, as his pedigree lent itself well to his second career. His dam, Lucky Soph, is out of the multiple Grade 3-winning Lucky Mel mare Lucky Spell, and 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 is also the dam of another useful regional sire, Drewman, who stands in Ohio after several years in Indiana.

Lucky Pulpit has ranked among California's leading sires for the last three seasons, powered by the exploits of California Chrome, who enters stud at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., with a record of 27-16-4-1 and earnings of $14,752,650, a North American record. His seven Grade 1 victories include the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and last year's $10 million Dubai World Cup, at the time the world's richest race. He also finished second in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic, and third in the 2014 edition of the BC Classic. With California Chrome's $8.1 million leading the way, Lucky Pulpit's runners bankrolled more than $10.7 million in 2016, helping the stallion shatter Unusual Heat’s single-season California record for progeny earnings of $5.8 million.

Rousing Sermon, a multiple stakes winner for Lucky Pulpit, banked $821,572 on his career and placed in four graded stakes, including a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity. He is set to stand his second season at Rancho San Miguel in San Miguel, Calif. The stallion's other standouts include multiple stakes winners Luckarack and Floating Feather; stakes winners Gatheratthealter, You're Late, and Lucky Larry; and 14 other stakes-placed runners. In total, Lucky Pulpit is the sire of 148 winners from 230 starters for earnings of $24,124,121.