Luck Penny, never a nickel-and-dime performer, joined the $100,000 Club in earnings in her last start. Today, as a "reward," racing secretary Guy Klank has assigned the talented 3-year-old filly highweight of 128 pounds in the $33,750 All Brandy Handicap.
"Every race she's run here, except for the time they tried her on the grass course, she's won with authority," Klank noted. "The only way for me to get a field was to put the weight on Luck Penny. It's the first time I've every assigned a filly that many pounds, but I think it's fair."
Klank's fairness is attested to by the fact that (1) trainer Bernie Bond agreed to send Luck Penny after the $18,750 first prize of the All Brandy, to be run over one mile, and (2) the names of 15 other Maryland-bred fillies and mares were dropped into the entry box Thurday when entries were taken.
Luck Penny will be favored at about even money, even though she must concede her rivals from 10 to 22 pounds.
Playin' Footsle is the likely second choice, under 115 pounds, with Moonlight Jig, 118; Sea Drone, 111, and Vodka Talking, 114, also certain to attract considerable play in the parimutuels.
Luck Penny has never carried more than 124 pounds, and that was in her last start when the conditions of the seven-furlong pre called for her to chestnut daughter of What Luck scored by seven lengths. She has won her last four outings on the dirt by a total of 30 lengths.
Only twice, however, has Luck Penny won stakes. Her margin of victory on each occasion was a nose. Overall, owner T. J. Barry's filly, trained by Bernie Bond, has captured 10 of 15 starts, plus two seconds and two thirds. her only out-of-the-money effort came in the Monmouth Oaks last summer, which marked the only time she has competed against the nation's best 3-year-olds.
Bond has done an excellent job of training Luck Penny, showing patience and giving her extra time to develop after she had displayed sharp speed early as a 2-year-old. Barry seriously considered selling Luck Penny early this year, then decided to keep her after one offer fell through.
There is every reason to believe Luck Penny's best days are still ahead of her, even if they're not going to be in Maryland-bred competition. Should she win the All Brady carrying 128 pounds, she will have weighted herself out of many of Klank's future considerations and Bond would have little recourse but to take her to other courses for easier events.
Speaking of fillies, several women have written in to question the writer's choice of Lakeville Miss as a 1977 Eclipse Award winner. They preferred the Maryland-bred Caesar's Wish, which embarrased Lakeville Miss by nearly seven lengths in the Demoiselle Stakes Last month.
I voted for Lakeville Miss as the champion 2-year-old filly and there is no reason to switch. Lakeville Miss won the Selima, Frizette, Matron and Astarita last fall, meeting the fastest members of her generation, such as L'Alezane, Stub, Sherry Peppers and Akita.
Caesar's Wish did not step into the big time until the Demoiselle. One superior effort on her part should not be permitted to offset a series of excellent performances by Lakeville Miss. I am not a last-race balloteer. Too many voters, it seems, tend to give too much emphasis to a thoroughbred's most recent race.
What is unfortunate, however, is that Caesar's Wish was omitted from the past-performance list of leading fillies sent out by the Eclipse Committee. This oversight is regrettable. The Eclipse Committee would do well to wait a little longer before sending out its ballots and information. What's the rush?