-Won 2001 California Breeders' Matron Stakes with Corona Kool
-Won Charger Bar Handicap with Corona Kool in 2001
-Won the El Primero Del Ano Derby in 2004 with Ocean Cartel
-Won the Los Alamitos Invitational with Corona Kool in 2001
-Won the Los Alamitos Super Derby with Corona Kool in 2000
-Won the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in 2002 with Corona Kool
-Won Southern California Derby in 2007 with Trisk
Retired physician Dan Lucas was honored as the champion breeder in 2004 thanks to a pair of superstars - Champion 2-Year-Old Ocean Runaway and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Cash For Kas. Lucas is the man behind the two champions as he bred three-time Grade 1 futurity winner Ocean Runaway as well as Champion of Champions winner Cash For Kas. I would never have dreamed of doing something like this in a million years, Lucas said. To see what those two babies that I bred have done is quite amazing.
The story of millionaire Ocean Runaway begins many years ago when breeder Daniel Lucas first spotted In The Curl, a Thoroughbred filly by Shelter Half. In The Curl is the grand-dam of the newest Los Alamitos Million winner. "I first saw In The Curl many years ago," Lucas said. "She sold at Keeneland for lots of money but I always followed her. I remember sitting one day with Sleepy Gilbreath talking about this mare. I told him that I wanted to buy her and he said 'just do it.' I remember what he said while we sat there eating lunch. He said 'she could be another Cherry Lake.' "
Those that follow Quarter Horse bloodlines know Cherry Lake as an influential Thoroughbred broodmare in this sport and a member of the 1998 AQHA Hall of Fame Class. Sired by the War Admiral son Lake Erie, Cherry Lake's Quarter Horse progeny included five-time AQHA Champion Cash Rate and the Streakin Six gelding Six Popper, a winner of more than $500,000. When In The Curl was 9-years-old her owner put her in for a tag. When I saw that I called and told him that I wanted her. He said okay and I wrote a check for $45,000 that day.
In The Curl has become Lucas' Cherry Lake, as she is the foundation mare of his breeding operation. In The Curl has produced the likes of First Down N Surfin, a filly that ran third in the All American Futurity in 2000, as well as multiple 870-yard stakes winner Harbor Beach. Ocean Cartel, the winner of the El Primero Del Ano Derby, and Ed Burke Futurity finalist Mimi Cartel are also part of her family. Another daughter of In The Curl is Runaway Wave, the dam of the brilliant Ocean Runaway. "Runaway Wave could run," Lucas said. "She ran third in the All American Futurity Consolation but she chipped a knee. She came back to hit the board in the Dash For Cash Derby just she just kept chipping her knee so that ended her racing career. She has produced seven foals and all have been colts. Ocean Runaway is one of them. "We'll keep breeding her to First Down Dash and hopefully we'll get a filly one of these days," Lucas added.
Lucas lost In The Curl this spring. The likes of Runaway Wave and of course, her famous son, Ocean Runaway, will keep the name of In The Curl a prominent one for many years to come. Lucas has been involved in horse racing since 1974, but it wasn't until the late 1990s that he got his big horse. That horse was Corona Kool, the 1999 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly and 2001 Champion Aged Mare. Thanks to Corona Kool, Dan enjoyed some of the sport's greatest moments, such as defeating the past two world champions - A Ransom and Tailor Fit - in the Los Alamitos Championship and winning the Los Alamitos Million Futurity. The key to owning a mare like (Corona Kool) is knowing that you should just enjoy it because it's almost impossible to get one like that.
Daniel Lucas is one of the most highly respected owners and breeders in the nation - and for good reasons. Over the past 10 years or so, Lucas has enjoyed incredibly success by campaigning horses such as champion millionaire Corona Kool, major stakes winners Ocean Cartel, Trisk, and Harbor Beach, and of course World Champion Wave Carver, which he bred and co-owned in partnership with Vessels Stallion Farm, Vaughn Cook, and Gary Muller.
And as a breeder few horsemen have been as consistent in producing outstanding Grade 1 caliber stakes winners as Lucas. During one remarkable streak, Lucas bred three consecutive Champion of Champions winners. It started with champion Cash For Kas in 2004, followed by champion millionaire Ocean Runaway, and the aforementioned Wave Carver. Last year, Lucas enjoyed success as the breeder of Southern California Derby winner Trisk and Golden State Derby runner-up Sir Runaway Dash. In past years, he also bred the outstanding 870-yard stakes winner Harbor Beach.
His accomplishments have been noticed by the powers that decide year-end honors. Lucas was named the AQHA champion breeder in 2004 after Cash For Kas won the Champion of Champions and Ocean Runaway won the Los Alamitos Million Futurity, and just this past January the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association honored him as the recipient of the Frank Vessels Sr. Award for his contributions to the sport of Quarter Horse racing. Furthermore, Lucas' brilliant dam, Runaway Wave, was named AQHA broodmare of the year in 2005.
As the dam of millionaires Ocean Runaway and Wave Carver, plus the aforementioned sprinters Trisk and Sir Runaway Dash - First Down Dash sired all of which - Runaway Wave has continued to produce outstanding runner after outstanding runner. On the night of the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials at Los Alamitos, Lucas hopes that a new star arises from his tireless breeding efforts, this one a bay colt named Check Or Bet, who will race in the third of 13 trials to be contested on Saturday evening. The sport's all-time leading stallion First Down Dash did not sire Check Or Bet making him an anomaly as far as babies go out of Runaway Wave. Instead, Check Or Bet is by 2006 leading freshman sire Check Him Out, making him the first of what promises to be an interesting string of non-First Down Dash babies out of Runaway Wave.
Why did Lucas decide to go away from what has worked in years past? The answer is rather simple: Quantity.
"I hate not going to First Down Dash," said Lucas while on his way to check on some recipient mares. "I do have three Runaway Wave yearlings by First Down Dash and three Runaway Wave weanlings by First Down Dash. I also sold an embryo at the Heritage Place Sale by First Down Dash, so the year that I took Runaway Wave to Check Him Out I just wanted to try something a little different. I love First Down Dash and the babies on the ground that I have sired by First Down Dash are absolutely gorgeous."
Variety being the spice of life, Lucas decided to expand the list of sires lining up for Runaway Wave in the upcoming breeding seasons.
"I have a Special Leader filly on the grounds right now. She was born at the end of May so trainer Paul Jones and I decided to wait until races like the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, Golden State Million Futurity and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity," Lucas added about the filly named Special Wave, which he owns in partnership with his great friend, Vaughn Cook. "She's been showing a lot of talent and acts like a filly that can really run."
Next year Runaway Wave will have babies by Special Leader, Splash Bac and FDD Dynasty, plus twins by Valiant Hero.
"I love Valiant Hero," Lucas explained. "His mother is the great Corona Chick. I'm blessed to have a great mare like Runaway Wave but she's not the greatest. As far as I'm concerned Corona Chick is the greatest mare in the sport right now, so to have the opportunity to get that Corona Chick bloodline with Runaway Wave is very exciting. Valiant Hero is a wonderful horse but to be honest it is the Corona Chick presence that's really exciting for me. Down the road I will be trying other stallions for Runaway Wave. I'm thinking of horses like Stel Corona, Carters Cartel and Corona Cartel. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with different stallions and see what develops. With young stallions like FDDD Dynasty, he was a super talented runner and such a beautiful horse, which makes him an exciting young stallion."
Yet Lucas still enjoys stallions with some history behind them.
"I make my own mind about horses and I really like old stallions. That's why I went to Special Leader and Splash Bac, a couple of horses that in my opinion never really had opportunity to consistently be bred to the very best mares. Special Leader has some characteristics that I really like and he's done exceptionally well with a lot of his babies. Some of his fillies have developed into nice mares, so his history is fascinating to me. With Splash Bac, he has since left the country and now stands in Brazil, but I bred to him before he left. We froze the embryo but then we thawed it out and it took."
For the time being, it will be down to Check Or Bet to wave the flag high of Lucas Racing in the trials to the $1,155,000 Ed Burke. The Maryland-bred colt won his maiden effort in impressive fashion, breaking third from post five before rallying to defeat a field that included a three-quarter brother to reigning World Champion Blues Girl Too. His sire is Check Him Out, which interestingly won the Ed Burke Futurity in 2001.
"Check Him Out was brilliantly fast," Lucas said. "He was a little cantankerous as a horse and I've noticed that some of his babies can be a little high strung."
Check Or Bet had some of spicy qualities according to Lucas. Raised at Lucas' farm in Maryland and introduced to the saddle in a training center established by Hall of Fame Thoroughbred owner Paul Mellon in Virginia, Check Or Bet figured to be a difficult horse to handle during the early stages of his racing intros. But that did not turn out to be the case.
"We figured that he would be a tough," Lucas said. "He ended up being one of the easiest ones to work with. Even though he still has that high-strung attitude, he is a quick learner. You only have to show him something new once. He figures it out quickly which makes it very easy. He acts like a horse that will blow up at you but he never does. He may not be good enough just yet for the Ed Burke trials but we believe that by the end of the year he will really be something to reckon with. He's a big beautiful horse and he's got some growing left to do. When he figures it all out, he could become a very successful horse."
And if that's the case, he'll join an elite list of brothers and sisters produced by Lucas' great Runaway Wave.