(Originally published in the June 2, 2012 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
By David Schmitz
Iowa breeder/owner Gary Lucas had high hopes when he agreed to a foal-share arrangement with Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs for the 2007 breeding season. The Kentucky-based farm provided the services of major sire Awesome Again for Lucas’ young broodmare, One Fine Shweetie.
His great expectations were met when the resultant foal became his first graded stakes winner as a breeder. The 4-year-old filly named Awesomemundo, bred by Adena Springs and Lucas’ Big Pine Thoroughbreds, won the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. III) on this year’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard for owner Jill Baffert.
“Awesome Again had sired a lot of good runners, and I thought One Fine Shweetie deserved the opportunity to be bred to a sire of that quality,” Lucas said. “It was the type of breeding I favored. It looked like it would be a nice match because of Deputy Minister (Awesome Again’s sire).”
Lucas’ reputation as a successful breeder/owner was no secret to Stronach’s son, Andy. “I had talked to Andy after Awesomemundo was born,” Lucas said. “He was aware of the horses I had bred and raced in the past.”
One Fine Shweetie was one of the good ones raced by Lucas. A Roberto granddaughter bred by Lucas and raced by him and Linda Woods, One Fine Shweetie was Iowa’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2002 and champion older female of 2004. In four years of racing, the daughter of Shuailaan won the Bob Bryant Stakes and the Mamie Eisenhower Stakes, both restricted events at Prairie Meadows, and placed in seven other stakes including five at Prairie Meadows and one at Arlington Park. She was retired with a record of 5-7-11 from 30 starts and earnings of $260,587.
Instead of being kept at Big Pine Thoroughbreds near Indianola, Iowa, during the time she was carrying Awesomemundo, One Fine Shweetie was boarded at Hidden Brook (Sergio de Sousa, managing partner) near Paris, Ky.
“I decided to keep the mare at Hidden Brook so she could be a part of the Kentucky breeding program,” said Lucas, who lives near Indianola about 30 miles south of Des Moines and Prairie Meadows. “I had started in the program the year before. Iowa has a good program, but they don’t have any provisions that allow horses that race outside Iowa to participate in breeders’ awards, whereas Kentucky does.
“It hurt in one way because I’m a hands-on owner. One of my favorite things is raising and caring for the horses, so it was tough not having her at the farm.”
Hidden Brook, as agent, consigned Awesomemundo to the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale where she was purchased for $50,000 by Casa de Nuevo Farm.
One Fine Shweetie, whose dam, One Fine Lady, recently died at age 30, has not produced a foal since 2009. One Fine Shweetie is in foal to Iowa stallion Woke Up Dreamin.
A family friend got Lucas and his wife, Joan, started in racing.
“The man had known Joan since she was a little girl,” said Lucas, who met his future wife at Simpson College in Indianola. “He raced at Ak-Sar-Ben (in Nebraska) and in Chicago. Joan and I bought a half-interest in a yearling, got hooked, and started breeding horses in the early 1980s. As for me, I like studying the pedigrees best.”
He also has been active in growing and promoting Iowa’s racing and breeding programs, having served in high-level positions at Prairie Meadows, on the state breeders organization, and on the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“I haven’t held an office in several years, but I keep close tabs of what’s going on,” Lucas said.
Lucas and Woods, who lives in Des Moines with her husband Tim, also are the breeders of Awesomemundo’s older champion half sister Champagne Attitude. By Aptitude, Champagne Attitude was named Iowa champion 3-year-old filly of 2009 after winning the Iowa Breeders’ Oaks.
Retired after the 2010 racing season, Champagne Attitude is the dam of a Latent Heat colt foaled this year in Iowa. Returned to Hidden Brook, Champagne Attitude is in foal to first-year Kentucky stallion Paddy O’Prado.
“Sergio is extremely professional, and I have the utmost confidence that everything there is fine,” said Lucas, whose broodmare band generally numbers about three. “I try to visit three or four times a year.”
Additional Iowa champions Lucas bred include Chocolate Tuesday and Bay Cruiser.
“Racing Bay Cruiser was the most fun I’ve had with a horse,” Lucas said about the gelding who was a champion at 2, 3, and 4 in the 1990s. “He was a fan favorite and a ton of fun. When he won the Iowa Derby, there was a big crowd. He was a come-from-behind horse. By the time the horses hit the stretch, the crowd was going crazy.”