blind luck, freshman sire, la mission, pollard's vision, shuttle stallions, stallion success, wintergreen stallion station
The following story appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
The victory of Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks paid tribute to the gameness of the chestnut daughter of Pollard’s Vision, who won for the eighth time in 12 starts and now has earnings of $1,578,712.
The filly’s standing as the leading member of her crop also foregrounds the accomplishments of her sire, whose first foals are now 3 and include six stakes winners to date.
The bay son of Carson City and the Dixieland Band mare Etats Unis first came to prominence in 2004 due to his racing class and fascinating background. A large part of the human interest in the horse lay in the fact that he was racing successfully, although blind in his right eye.
Pollard’s Vision stands at the Greely family’s Wintergreen Farm, where the horse was born and raised. John Greely IV said that “Pollard’s Vision was named for Red Pollard, Seabiscuit’s jockey, who was also blind in one eye,” and he noted that “the horse’s blindness resulted from MRLS,” the mysterious malady that caused miscarriages in pregnant mares and damage to other horses, especially in 2001 and 2002.
Greely said, “In early May of his yearling year, just about the time we began yearling prep, he came up with some cloudiness in his right eye. We had him checked by the vet, and it was MRLS that caused his blindness. We had to lock him in a stall for two months to try to save as much of his eye as we could, had to scratch him from the July sale, and then took him to the Keeneland April sale” of 2-year-olds in training, where he sold for $70,000.
The colt’s athletic appeal and visual challenge attracted the interest of David Moore, who bought the colt. Greely said that Moore, who “is blind in his left eye and never had problems playing sports, knew about the colt, liked him, and bought Pollard’s Vision because he believed the horse would not be affected by the eye.”
Moore was ever so right.
Pollard’s Vision won a maiden special at Saratoga, then progressed to place in a stakes before the end of the year. The colt improved markedly at 3 to win the Grade 2 Illinois Derby. Pollard’s Vision also won the Lone Star Derby, was second in the Pennsylvania Derby, Ohio Derby, and West Virginia Derby, and ran third in the Louisiana Derby.
You might think of him as something like a Derby specialist with earnings of more than $1 million during his 3-year-old season. Pollard’s Vision came back at 4 to win the National Jockey Club Handicap, run second in the Pimlico Special, and third in the Suburban (both Grade 1).
Victory in a Grade 1 would have meant a lot to his stallion value, but it didn’t happen.
With a solid race record and uncommon soundness, Pollard’s Vision went to stud at his birthplace, the Greely family’s Wintergreen Stallion Station.
Greely recalled that when the time came to send Pollard’s Vision to stud, “David contacted us, and part of his interest in doing that was that he wasn’t too concerned about making all the money up front by selling the horse. He was wanting to enhance the long-term value of Pollard’s Vision as a stallion, wanted to make him as a stallion, and knew that we had a story to tell about this horse.”
A good story is dandy, but horse breeders can be a shade abrupt when it comes to dollars and cents. But in that regard too, the owner had a plan. Greely said, “David gave us such good terms to go to breeders for syndicating the horse that we had the syndicate in place in 48 hours with a waitlist of 25 breeders who wanted shares.”
The interest of breeders helped Pollard’s Vision during the lean third and fourth years, when it is difficult to find support for a stallion.
But now the lengthy bay is popular with everyone.
Greely said that “he covered 165 mares this year for a $10,000 fee. We had decided on that fee, and we weren’t going to change it. We wanted to be sure breeders could make money using the horse. I’m very excited about his 2010 book of mares, both in terms of pedigree and physique. They are a strong group.”
Interest in Pollard’s Vision doesn’t stop at the US border. The horse will be shuttling to La Mission in Argentina for the 2010 Southern Hemisphere breeding season and “will leave on the plane Monday morning” (July 12), Greely noted. “They have booked about 125 mares to him and have purchased the Southern Hemisphere breeding rights to Pollard’s Vision. So he would continue to shuttle there.”
Success has a price, of course, and the stud fee to Pollard’s Vision will be going up for 2011. Greely assured breeders, however, that “it will be a moderate increase because, in this economy, we want Pollard’s Vision to be the breeders’ horse.