Lucky Pulpit , the sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome , died Feb. 13 of an apparent heart attack while covering the first mare of the breeding season, according to Harris Farms, where he's stood his entire career.
"He was the picture of health all day," said Dave McGlothlin, farm manager at Harris Farms. "He had a perfectly normal day. He and the teaser were talking smack to one another like they always did. We're all stunned." Both McGlothlin and stallion manager Raul Rosa were in the breeding shed with Lucky Pulpit when he collapsed coming off the mare.
The 16-year-old son of Pulpit—Lucky Soph, by Cozzene, was bred and raced by Larry and Marianne Williams. He won the Smile Stakes on the turf at Arlington International Race Course and placed in two graded stakes before retiring with $209,928 in earnings.
Lucky Pulpit entered stud at Harris Farms near Coalinga, Calif., for a $2,500 fee. He stood this year for $7,500.
He currently sits atop California's 2017 general sire list and was the state's leading sire last year by progeny earnings, with more than $10.7 million. He also was the state's leading sire for three of the past four years.
From seven crops of racing age, Lucky Pulpit is the sire of 148 winners, including the multiple Eclipse Award winning Californian Chrome. His 229 starters to date have amassed progeny earnings of $24 million.
California Chrome, Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2016, was by far and away his top runner with a record $14,752,650 in earnings for a North American-based racehorse. Lucky Pulpit's other top runners included grade 1 placed stakes winner Rousing Sermon, multiple stakes winner Luckarack, and stakes winner You're Late.
"The California and national Thoroughbred racing industry, where Lucky Pulpit has ranked at the top of the sire lists year after year with world class performers, will still have another three crops from this stellar sire yet to race," McGlothin said. "Lucky Pulpit hit homerun after homerun with his offspring both in the sales ring and on the racetrack and from early on we had a glimpse of what he would become as a sire."