Regional markets are something else again. Even in the largest of them---Florida, California, Louisiana and New York---US$10,000 is about as much as even the best stallions can command, and most make their names on siring state-bred winners and stakes winners. For most, this kind of blue-collar fame is as much as they will ever have; most achieve far less. Nonetheless, every time a young stallion goes to stud, owners dream that this will be the one that catches lightning in a bottle.
For Lucky Pulpit's owners, Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, the dream has come true. Its embodiment is California Chrome, who stamped himself as the best horse in the country yesterday with an effortless defeat of three-time champion Beholder. Already a dual Classic winner and the 2014 American Horse of the Year, the big chestnut now has the Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-I) and a second golden Eclipse Award in his sights and is the early favorite for both. Yet how does one evaluate the career of a horse who has sired such a champion, and virtually nothing else?
Granted, "nothing else" is a relative term. Lucky Pulpit has 126 winners besides Chrome, and the vast majority of those runners are eligible for state-bred bonuses that can pad their connections' bottom lines. That is hardly "nothing" to an owner who has such a winner in his stable. Further, Lucky Pulpit has not yet had the chance to show whether he can benefit by his son's success. The foals from the 63 mares sent to his court in 2015, his first book following Chrome's first championship season, were only born this spring; they will not come to the races until 2018. Still, the fact remains that of Lucky Pulpit's 246 named foals aged 3 and up, only two besides Chrome have won a black-type stakes and neither has been remotely close to Chrome in ability.
Of course, precious few other horses sired by any other North American stallion in the last few years have been remotely close to Chrome in ability either, and most of that handful have been sired by horses getting far better opportunities than Lucky Pulpit. Perhaps the lightning will never strike for him again, but if so, getting one great horse is more than most stallions do in a lifetime, and more than enough to make him worth remembering.