Derby Breeders Bailey, Robinson Lookin' Lucky
Florida horseman Jerry Bailey and Utah horseman Lance Robinson are known in the Thoroughbred auction business as savvy pinhookers who specialize in reselling horses they buy from others. But they also have a successful breeding program. The two men are the principals in Gulf Coast Farms, which bred two Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) entrants: 3-1 morning line favorite Lookin At Lucky and 12-1 shot Conveyance, who both are trained by Hall of Fame member Bob Baffert.
Lookin At Lucky , a son of Smart Strike , was 2009’s champion 2-year-old male. But as a younger horse, he was considered a bit of an ugly duckling. In 2008, the bay colt was a $35,000 buy-back at the Keeneland September yearling sale, when offered by Taylor Made Sales Agency.
“He was a late foal (born in May), and he had some issues in his stifles that we didn’t think were bad,” Bailey said. “He X-rayed with some OCDs (osteochondritis dissecans lesions), and there were mid-saggital ridge erosions in his front ankles.”
One of Lookin At Lucky'’s front feet was narrower than the other, his pasterns were considered to be too long by some buyers, and there also were some other concerns.
“Because of a combination of things, there just wasn’t anybody there for him as a yearling,” Bailey said.
But Bailey and Robinson had a Plan B, which was to try to sell Lookin At Lucky again as a 2-year-old.
“We broke him and we started training him, and as he got further along in his training he started telling us, ‘Hey, I’m a pretty nice horse,’ by the way he moved,” Bailey said. “He also had a nearly perfect mind and a great shoulder. At 2, he still had a few of the issues (that had reduced his appeal as a sale yearling) to a minor degree, but nobody expects a Smart Strike to win the contest on the end of a shank.”
Entered in the 2009 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training by Bailey’s sales agency, Lookin At Lucky worked an eighth of a mile in a brisk :10. On the same day, his half brother, Kensei, who would go on to become a grade II winner, won an allowance/optional claiming event at Oaklawn Park.
Suddenly, Lookin At Lucky was starting to look a whole lot better.
Baffert purchased the colt for $475,000, and Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, which owned Kensei, was the immediate underbidder. Racing for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, Lookin At Lucky captured three grade I races in 2009. He won his 2010 debut, the Rebel Stakes (gr. II), and then finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Bailey and Robinson, through Taylor Made, sold Kensei and Lookin At Lucky’s dam, Private Feeling, for $2 million to Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select mixed sale. The Belong to Me mare was in foal to Mr. Greeley at the time, and she produced a colt this past February.
“Our program kind of dictates that when mares get to be worth that much, we usually sell them,” Bailey said. “Her price was a fair one in a down market, but a couple a years before, she would have brought $5 million. Still, $2 million is a hell of a lot of money.”
Conveyance, a son of Indian Charlie, had more appeal physically than Lookin At Lucky did as a yearling.
“He was a very attractive horse – big and strong with a good shoulder,” Bailey said. “He was a really, really good physical.”
Legends Racing purchased Conveyance for $240,000 at Keeneland September yearling auction from Taylor Made. The colt was sold privately to his current owner, Zabeel Racing International, after wining his first two career races. This year, Conveyance has scored in the Southwest (gr. III) and San Rafael (gr. III) Stakes.
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