Lucky Pulpit dies at 16
Heart attack claims sire of California Chrome
The start of the breeding season in California took a stunning turn earlier this week, as leading sire Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, died of a heart attack while covering his first mare of the season.
The Pulpit stallion, who was 16, was launching the season at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., which he had called home for the past decade. He was standing for an advertised fee of $7,500 this season and was again poised to have a relatively sizeable book for his state, meaning a number of mare owners will be seeking swift alternate arrangements.
“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,” farm manager David 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. He covered 63 mares in 2015 and a sizable book of 128 in 2014, California Chrome’s first championship season.
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 Harris Farms for the 2007 season, and got off to a fast start as California’s leading freshman sire of 2010. He 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 on the season 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.
At the time of his death, Lucky Pulpit was the sire of 148 winners from 230 starters for earnings of $24,124,121. 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. 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.
Lucky Pulpit (top) broke the California single-season record for progeny earnings last year on the strength of his son California Chrome, here winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby.