05/15/2012 1:18PM

Sunland: Ducky Drake becomes pet for owner's 7-year-old daughter

Jack Coady/Coady Photography
As a 9-year-old last season, Ducky Drake won the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Ducky Drake was scheduled to retire to Old Friends in Kentucky after winning the final start of his career last month at Sunland Park in New Mexico. But that was before he spent time with Lyndee Pinkerton, the 7-year-old daughter of one of his co-owners, John Pinkerton.

“She’s in love with the horse,” said Chris Hartman, who trained Ducky Drake for Pinkerton and Bryan Mundell. “When he came to their house, she grabbed the horse by the mane and said, ‘I love Ducky.’ So I don’t anticipate the horse going anywhere. I think he’ll live out his days at Pinkerton’s house.”

Lyndee Pinkerton is one of many fans Ducky Drake made during an eight-year career in which he won 22 races and $718,538. His biggest score came last June at the age of 9, in the $125,000 Iowa Sprint at Prairie Meadows.

“He sprinted home, made up about eight or 10 lengths, which is his style of running,” said Hartman. “He was such an exciting horse to watch run, that late kick. He could make up so much ground. Everybody loved that horse. He had a lot of fans. I’ve still got guys come up and ask me about him.”

Pinkerton and Mundell, both based in El Paso, Texas, purchased Ducky Drake privately in the spring of 2011. They took over ownership of him two starts after he had been offered for a $15,000 claiming price at Sunland.

“We dropped a claim on the horse, and we were outshook,” said Hartman.

Trainer Tony Sedillo had won the shake for his wife, Betty, but Hartman said she wasn’t so keen on the fact that Ducky Drake was 9. The couple ran him once, in March 2011, and Hartman, on behalf of Pinkerton and Mundell, later struck a deal to buy the horse for $20,000.

“They were glad to make the $5,000, and as it worked it was a very good investment,” said Hartman. “We had watched him run forever, and of course, we didn’t know what the story was when he dropped in for a tag, but to be honest with you, there was nothing wrong with the horse. He won that day.

“The people that raised him were the people that had him when he was 9. And he had a really good record.”

Ducky Drake was bred by Ralph Todd and Aury Todd, who also bred and raced The Tin Man, a Grade 1 winner at 9.

“When we initially purchased [Ducky Drake], I thought, ‘Well, we’ve got a nice starter horse, or we could run him in optional claiming races,’ ” said Hartman. “That was my train of thought.”

Ducky Drake did just that at Prairie Meadows in May 2011, winning an optional $20,000 claiming race at 5 1/2 furlongs. The kicker was he set a track record of 1:02.20.

“It was really key for him to get into the $125,000 Iowa Sprint,” said Hartman. “It was a tough race, but we knew there was a lot of pace, and that’s always been essential for him to be successful. Atta Boy Roy was in the race and he ended up laying third. Bob Baffert shipped a horse in. They were just flying on the lead.”

And along came Ducky Drake. He would go on to win two more races, an optional $35,000 claimer at Remington Park last September, and an optional $15,000 claiming sprint in his career finale April 8.

“Bryan wanted him to go out on a winning note, so we stuck him in for $15,000,” said Hartman. “I told him I doubted anyone would claim him now that he’s 10. He went out there and almost set a track record. He was just a professional about everything he did.”