Sad End To A Flourishing Career

Sad End To A Flourishing Career
Luby Lou wins the Group 1 NZ Trotting Derby

Knock backs and disappointments are common in racing. Sometimes they’re more prevalent than the highs, but they are never easy to accept.

This week saw one of Ken and Karen Breckon’s and one of their Breckon Farms Syndicates star trotting fillies, end her career prematurely, on a sad note.

The royally bred Luby Lou had her career called to an end after she showed signs of soreness following training on Monday.

Being by the sire that most rate as the world leader in the trotting ranks, Muscle Hill, Luby Lou is out of the Andover Hall mare Luby Ann, who herself is proving a gem as a broodmare. Although she has presented some difficulties getting in foal at times, her first two and only foals to date, are both star Group 1 winners and NZ 3YO Trotting Fillies of the Year. The second foal is Tickle Me Pink, also by Muscle Hill, who is raced by the Breckon Farms – The Perfect Ten Syndicate.

Luby Ann was the first of Andover Hall’s progeny to ever race in New Zealand and achieved 4 wins and 3 placings from her 18-start career, interestingly also trained by Mark Purdon.

Luby Ann’s dam, Luby, was by Donerail and trotted a best time of 1:54, achieving total stake earnings of $383,946. A half-sister to Luby, by Speedy Crown, also won $100,000 in stakes and their dam Luanne Kash, was the winner of $160,000. Luby has also left Lubbock, by Angus Hall, who trotted 1:53 and won $293,278 in stakes and Lutetium, by Credit Winner, who trotted 1:52.4 and earned $420,402. So, it is indeed a prolific winning family.

Luby Lou was the first foal from Luby Ann and has fashioned an incredible record on the track, in what has been a somewhat short and interrupted career. She commenced racing with a start in an Australasian Breeders Crown Heat, late in her 2-year-old season, in July 2017. This win was notable for the fact that she beat the filly Renezmae, who subsequently went on to win the Group 1 Breeders Crown Final and has since won a total of 6 races and had 8 placings, for $116,113 in stakes.

Instead of sending Luby Lou to Australia for the Breeders Crown Final, her trainer Mark Purdon (in partnership with Natalie Rasmussen, under the All Stars Stable banner), made the astute decision to spell her, considering time would be her friend.

Indeed, it was to prove, but not before a blemish in her formline occurred when she was resuming as a 3-year-old and broke heading into the first bend of her race in the Group 3 Hambletonian Classic and lost all chance, finishing well back and suffering the first and only loss of her career.

Luby Lou was to then win her next three starts. First, it was in the inaugural Southland Trotting Oaks, where she once again beat Renezmae and in the process set a new track record.

Her next win came in the Group 2 New Zealand Trotting Oaks, where she beat another Breckon Farms-bred filly in Girls On Film. Breckon Farms-bred and Breckon Farms Syndicate-raced fillies had twice before been runner-up in this prestigious race, with the half-sisters High Gait in 2016 and Regal Love in 2017, so it was a huge thrill to get the big prize.

Luby Lou’s next race was to be in the 76th running of the prestigious Group 1 $100,000 Inkwise New Zealand Trotting Derby. She was sent out a warm order favourite for the race and after a false start, she was to settle back in the field from her 2nd Row draw having only three behind her with 1600m to run, when she moved out 3-wide and was 3-back before then being 3-wide and 2-back with a lap-to-go. She came 4-wide rounding the last bend and ran away for an easy 3½ length win in an excellent time of 3.14.2 (MR 2.00.1) for the 2600m, running home a quick last 400m in 28.6 seconds.

Only two winners have gone faster in the long history of the race, those being the filly Habibti in 2013, who holds the Race and New Zealand Record at 3.13.5 and Marcoola in 2016 with a time of 3.13.9.

Luby Lou’s time was indeed some 3.8 seconds faster than champion trotter Speeding Spur’s time on the same night for the other Group 1 trotting feature, the New Zealand Trotting Championship and interestingly he was a previous winner of the Trotting Derby too, having taken out the event in 2015.

After the race Mark Purdon said, “She was absolutely full of running and was just cruising round the home turn. She gathered them up in the straight in sort of 20m and was really good and did it quite easily. She’s got it all ahead of her now. She’s a great gaited trotter and royally bred and she’s got everything going for her.”

This win cemented Luby Lou’s position at the top of the Jewels Leaderboard, where she had risen from 16th position just two starts prior, to then be at No.1 with a very healthy $90,500, more than three times her nearest rival.

Luby Lou was wearing the Harness Jewels colours on their debut in this race and was then to travel north, with a bevy of races on her programme that included Group 2 $60,000 NZ Sires Stakes Championship, the Group 1 $100,000 Northern Trotting Derby, the Group 3 $30,000 Northern Trotting Oaks and the Group 1 $125,000 Harness Jewels 3YO Ruby, before a planned trip to Australia for the 3-year-old Breeders Crown.

Unfortunately, disaster was to strike in the form of a paddock accident and she was to miss all these race assignments, having to have time out in the spelling paddock.

After her spell, she returned to training and just as she was about to return to the racetrack in December 2018, she went sore. Eventually, she had to undergo surgery on both her knees, before an extended recuperation period and then time on a water treadmill, before finally returning to training in June 2019, having missed her entire 4-year-old racing season.

Luby Lou had had a couple of hiccups along the way during this latest preparation and had been to the workouts on two occasions, nearing a return to racing, but the unfortunate decision to retire her had to be made on Monday, after she showed some signs of soreness after her training that morning.

She will be sadly missed on the track, but will surely have a very bright future as a broodmare, as she is set to return to Breckon Farms and be served in the current breeding season.

Rob Carr