BOZICH | Breeding A Kentucky Derby Winner -- Or Champion Labrado - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Breeding A Kentucky Derby Winner -- Or Champion Labradoodle

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The sire of Derby favorite California Chrome stands for the same fee as the charge to breed to a top Labradoodle. The sire of Derby favorite California Chrome stands for the same fee as the charge to breed to a top Labradoodle.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Like any top breeding operation, JacknDoodle Ranch is dedicated to producing champions from the Sierra Mountains of California.

Bring your checkbook. Stud fees aren't cheap. You'll pay $2,500 to breed to one of JacknDoodle's champion Australian Labradoodles.

That's neither a colt nor a filly. That's a fashionable dog breed that is beloved for not shedding.

And this is the perfect time for another statistical quirk of Kentucky Derby 140.

You know where I'm going here -- directly into the bloodlines of California Chrome, the unlikely favorite for the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs Saturday.

California Chrome was sired by the unremarkable Lucky Pulpit. He stands at Harris Farms in Coalings, Calif. You can breed to Lucky Pulpit for $2,500 – the same stud fee that I found quoted by several breeders of Labradoodles, Doberman pinschers and other in-demand canines.

I could not trace the bloodlines of the Tibetan mastiff puppy that sold for nearly $2 million in China last month. But I'm trying.

"I wouldn't worry about that," trainer Bob Baffert said. "California Chrome is making his own pedigree."Your best chance of getting in the Derby is still to get a good-pedigree horse that can run," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "When these things (like California Chrome) happen, it gives all the way-out-there lottery players the idea they can win the Derby."

And it gives wise guys like me an inspiration for a column.

The stud fee for the Derby favorite is easily the most inexpensive for any of the 20 horses in the field. The folks who bred Medal Count paid $150,000 for a few private seconds with Dynaformer.

Baffert has trained three Kentucky Derby winners. Lukas has trained four. They've shopped at the most exclusive horse sales in the business, searching for the next Secretariat.

They don't bid on many colts by sires that stand for $2,500. They spend more than that on designer sunglasses. They're conditioned to shopping at the Keeneland September Select sale for yearlings, the Nieman Marcus of horse auctions.

Yearlings auctioned in September 2014 at Keeneland are the horses now eligible for Saturday's Derby. Buyers spent nearly $220 million on 2,516 yearlings for an average price of $87,330 in 2014. The sales topper was a Distorted Humor colt. He fetched $1.65 million.

Of the 20 horses that will start in the Kentucky Derby, eight were auctioned at Keeneland in September 2012.

None of the eight ranked among the 75 most expensive yearlings purchased at that sale.

The most expensive Derby colt from that sale remains Intense Holiday. His purchase price was $380,000. That ranked 78th among all yearlings in that sale, 50th among colts.

Only two other top 100 yearlings from 2012 have survived the Kentucky Derby grind: Wicked Strong ($375,000) and Medal Count ($360,000).

"That shows you how tough it is just to get to this race, much less win it," said Elliott Walden, president and chief operating officer of WinStar Farm in Versailles. It also shows you that genetics sometimes finish up the track.

Lucky Pulpit, California Chrome's sire, has a respectable pedigree. It includes A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Mr. Prospector, Secretariat and Raise a Native.

He simply could not run – 22 starts, three wins, all forgettable.

According to the California Thoroughbred Stallion Directory, Lucky Pulpit sired 99 horses of racing age prior to 2014. Four were stakes winners.

California Chrome made it five this year.

Now you understand why Lucky Pulpit stands for $2,500 at Harris Farms.

"That's why we've got 20 horses that are in (the Derby) and 20 more that want to get in," Lukas said."A lot of people believe you can catch lightning in a bottle on this particular day. You look at Mine That Bird (the long shot 2009 Derby winner) and say, 'Wow, anything can happen.'"

Anything is already happening when the stud fee for the sire of the Kentucky Derby favorite is the same as the fee of a champion Labradoodle.

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