By Nicole Russo
Lucky Pulpit’s reign atop the California sire ranks was cemented less than a quarter of the way through 2016, as California Chrome stormed down the stretch to dominate the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The victory in what was then the world’s richest race helped California Chrome become North America’s all-time leading earner, with career earnings standing at $14.5 million following his win in the Los Alamitos Winter Challenge on Dec. 17.
With his champion son powering him, Lucky Pulpit bankrolled a staggering $10,705,253 from all his runners combined through that date to lead the California general sires list, with 75 winners from 161 starters.
Lucky Pulpit not only outdistanced the next stallions on the earnings list – California newcomer Bluegrass Cat ($5,509,827), the pensioned Unusual Heat ($3,613,115), and the late Tribal Rule ($3,230,802) – he also shattered Unusual Heat’s single-season California record for progeny earnings of $5.8 million.
Lucky Pulpit, by 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 unplaced in the San Rafael and the Santa Anita Derby.
He returned to turf that summer and spent the majority of his remaining racing career on that surface, 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 his pedigree provided plenty of clues to his future stud success. Pulpit’s other sons at stud include North America’s reigning leading sire Tapit. 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 also is the dam of another useful regional sire, Drewman, who stands at Dutchway Farm in Ohio and is represented by runners such as Grade 3 winner Cigar Man.
Lucky Pulpit is the sire of seven career stakes winners and another 12 stakes-placed runners. In addition to California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit’s other standouts in 2016 included stakes-winning juvenile You’re Late and stakes-placed older horses Fantasy of Luck and Floating Feather. Powered by You’re Late, Lucky Pulpit finished third on California’s juvenile sire list, boding well for the future. He also was his state’s leading synthetic-surface sire.