Forget Justify: Delaware Thoroughbred Owners Have “Lucky” Belmont Breakout

Dan McConnell’s Prince Lucky (horse on right) wins the Belmont’s Easy Goer Stakes and $150,000 on June 9, 2018. Photo Zoe Metz/

While the nation’s eyes were on the historic gallop by Triple Crown winner Justify in this month’s Belmont Stakes, a Wilmington contingent at the New York track that day was focused on the outcome of another important race.

The McConnell family – father Dan Sr., and brothers John and Dan Jr. – were there to root on their horse Prince Lucky’s dash in the prestigious Easy Goer Stakes.  Prince Lucky did not disappoint, taking the $150,000 race for the biggest win of the gelding’s career.

According to the horse racing trade, Thoroughbred Racing Dudes, Prince Lucky’s win was the 3-year-old gelded son of Corinthian’s first of 2018 and improved his overall record to 8-4-0-2.

Prince Lucky with rider Ricardo Santana, Jr. pulled away with a two and three-quarter length victory to win the Pennsylvania Nursery – Dec 2, 2017.

The win was a significant one for the McConnell’s Greenville Stables. The family owns the mare Lucky Notion and three of Prince Lucky’s sisters: Saint Main Event, the yearling Lucky Olivia Rose, and a filly out of the sire Uncle Lino. Expectations in the racing world are high for that filly.

The McConnells have deep Wilmington ties – Dan Sr. has run a contracting business for 40 years and has owned horses for 25; Dan Jr. spends his days treating athletes and weekend warriors as the Talleyville Center Manager for NovaCare Rehabilitation and John is now a New Jersey-based attorney.  The family credits their broader team for the success of Prince Lucky and their growing stable of thoroughbreds.  

“The win in the Easy Goer Stakes was significant because of the great job and hard work of so many people,” said John. “Trainer Todd Pletcher and his team did an incredible job …. he has a tremendous team, including Amelia Green and Maggie Sweet.  We are so thankful for them, and thankful for the ride in the Easy Goer that Hall of Fame jockey JR Velazquez gave the horse.”

Prince Lucky (middle horse) by a neck at the 2018 Belmont Stakes

The McConnells have big plans to build on Prince Lucky’s success.  “Hopefully we will breed each of our fillies and mares back when their career is over, and each will always be a sister to Prince Lucky, who was also the Pennsylvania Nursery winner of 2017,” said John.  Earlier this month Prince Lucky was named Pennsylvania 2-year-old colt of 2017 at an awards dinner in Hershey.

John McConnell made clear the Greenville Stables success won’t be taken for granted.

“Our family is just hard workers from Delaware, and we generally only breed about one horse per year.  To be able to compete on a national stage and win a race at Belmont Park on Belmont day, with a horse trained by a trainer as great as Todd Pletcher is a dream come true for us,” he said.  “We are looking forward to what the future holds.”

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