Second Time Lucky

A talented son of Smart Strike (TrueNicks,SRO) emerges as a leading Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopeful; the race goes to a rival who benefits from a rail-hugging ride from Calvin Borel; but the Smart Strike son rebounds to prove his classic credentials in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). If that sounds like "déjà vu all over again," it is, because the description could be applied to either 2007 – when Smart Strike’s son, Curlin (TrueNicks,SRO), entered the Derby with a three-for-three record, including wins in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II), but could do no better than third to Street Sense (TrueNicks,SRO) – or to 2010 – when Lookin At Lucky, whose chances in the Derby disappeared with two bumps in the first furlong, finished a brave sixth to the Borel-ridden Super Saver but came back two weeks later to take the Preakness.

There was actually a chance for the parallels to extend to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). In 2007, Curlin was narrowly defeated by Rags to Riches, a Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO), and this year, Pletcher has A.P. Indy’s granddaughter, Devil May Care, who tackled the colts in the Derby, but faded after making to third at the quarter pole. Our hope was that if the A.P. Indy line was going to provide a stumbling block for Lookin At Lucky, it would be in the shape of fast-finishing Derby runner-up Ice Box (a Pedigree Consultants mating), who is by A.P. Indy’s son, Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO). This was all rendered hypothetical, however, when it was announced that Lookin At Lucky – who to some eyes had lost weight since the Derby – would skip the third leg of the Triple Crown, and return to California.

There are actually also some pedigree parallels between Curlin and Lookin At Lucky (A++) too. Smart Strike comes from a wonderful Sam-Son Farm family that has produced a slew of major winners in Canada. The female line crossed very well with Vice Regent/Deputy Minister and with Danzig. Champion Regal Classic was a Vice Regent half brother to Smart Strike’s dam, and grade I winner Always a Classic was a similarly-bred son of Deputy Minister, while Deputy Minister also sired Canadian Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Hello Seattle out of a half sister to Smart Strike. Meanwhile, the wonderful filly Dance Smartly, Horse of the Year in Canada, Champion at two and three in Canada, and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in the U.S., was by Danzig out of Smart Strike’s dam.

Since Smart Strike is a Mr. Prospector son and free of Northern Dancer, one might think it would make sense to breed him over these two branches of the Northern Dancer line, and one would be right. From daughters of Deputy Minister, Smart Strike has sired four stakes winners, including Curlin and millionaire Tenpins (he also has a Canadian Champion out of a Vice Regent mare). From 29 starters out of mares by Danzig, Smart Strike also has four stakes winners, including Canadian Horse of the Year Soaring Free. The pedigree of Lookin At Lucky is a textbook example of tendency of sire line affinities to perpetuate themselves, as he’s one of seven stakes winners from 44 runners sired by Smart Strike out of mares by sons of Danzig, the others including grade I winner Shadow Cast, and last year’s classic contender Papa Clem (TrueNicks) (like Lookin At Lucky, out of a mare by Belong to Me). The sub-nick, between Smart Strike and Lookin At Lucky’s broodmare sire, Belong to Me (TrueNicks,SRO), has been a remarkably successful one, with Lookin At Lucky, Papa Clem, and stakes winner Striking Tomisue from only five starters.

Smart Strike also appears as broodmare sire of First Dude (TrueNicks B), who ran a remarkable race on the front end. He is by A.P. Indy son Stephen Got Even (TrueNicks,SRO) , who may never make it to the forefront of fashion but can sire an awfully smart runner for a horse who is currently advertised at $7,500: he’s also responsible for Champion Two-Year-Old Stevie Wonderboy (TrueNicks,SRO), grade I winner I Want Revenge – who would have started favorite for last year’s Derby but for injury – and graded winners For All We Know, Sweet Vendetta, Steve’s Double, and Time to Get Even. There is an intriguing little twist in his pedigree, as his fourth dam is by Nasrullah out of Uvira II, and those individuals are in the male and female line of First Dude’s grandsire, A.P. Indy. A good third was Jackson Bend (TrueNicks A+), one of a handful of starters from the first crop of his sire, the Carson City horse Hear No Evil (TrueNicks,SRO), out of a mare by Tabasco Cat, who we recently mentioned as an emerging broodmare sire. This is the combination of Storm Cat and Carson City that results in line breeding to Storm Bird and Nijinsky II. By the way, in addition to being sire/broodmare sire of the Preakness one-two, Smart Strike was represented by the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) winner Strike a Deal on the Preakness undercard. He too is out of a Northern Dancer line mare, as his dam is by Dixieland Band.

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