The list of racehorses who have returned to racing after bowing a tendon is relatively short. The list of those who have returned to become more successful than before their injury is practically nonexistent. One of the few who managed it was the gelding Lucky Draw
George D Widener bred and raced the son of 1928 Hopeful Stakes winner Jack High. Lucky Draw’s highly promising juvenile season saw him win the Youthful, Juvenile, Tremont, and Great American Stakes. Trainer W. F. ‘Bert’ Mulholland, who “disdain(ed) to race horses into condition”, put him directly into stakes competition at three. Lucky Draw made his 1944 debut in one division of the Wood Memorial, which he won from Broad Grin and Hoodoo. He was practically Derby-bound, but a small case of colic kept him out of commission until late May, when returned with a win at Belmont. Shortly after winning the Jersey Handicap at Garden State Park in August 1944, Lucky Draw suffered his bowed tendon.
The gelding’s connections were unhurried with him. He missed the remainder of 1944, all of 1945, and the first part of 1946. When he finally returned to the track, it was nearly 21 months after he had left, and he was now a finely-shaped five year old. Once again, he was not given an easy return race. The 1946 Toboggan Handicap at Belmont featured future champion sprinter Polynesian and veteran handicapper Cassis, and Lucky Draw finished a respectable fourth. Not so in the Metropolitan Handicap soon after, where he faded badly and ended up 12th in the field of 14. It was assumed that Lucky Draw had not been seriously trained for these races, which were used primarily to find out if his tendon could hold up to the strain. He was given another month off to recover, and afterwards he was put back into regular training
What followed next was a string of highly impressive, record-breaking wins. Lucky Draw took an allowance race at Jamaica on June 25, and the Yonkers Handicap a few days later, but his true brilliance began in the July 13 Butler Handicap. Under a light load of 105 pounds, Lucky Draw ran down Gallorette to beat her by a nose in a time that lowered the track record. Exactly one week later, in the newly returned Monmouth Handicap, he carried 111 pounds and beat Stymie by six lengths, again in track record time.
The Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap on August 15 saw Lucky Draw sharing the topweight with hardy stakes-winner First Fiddle. He avenged his earlier loss to Polynesian in the Toboggan by beating him a length and a half while giving him five pounds. Once again, he lowered the track record, this one having been set by Sir Barton back in 1920. Next came the Saratoga Handicap on August 24. Lucky Draw carried 124 pounds to Polynesian’s 113 and Stymie’s 125, but he won it by 3/4 of a length in yet another track record time
The field of the 1946 Narragansett Special was very short, but it was loaded with talent. Lucky Draw carried even weight with Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Pavot, and they both received 7 pounds from Calumet’s mighty gelding Armed. The race was never in doubt: “Lucky Draw drew off from the others and won handily by more than three lengths, leading every stride”. This time, not only had he broken the track record, he had equaled the world record for the 1 3/16 miles, set by Challedon in 1939.
The Olympic Handicap at Atlantic City followed, and another broken track record with it. The field was not particularly impressive, but Lucky Draw carried 129 pounds and “won galloping” by five lengths
The high point of Lucky Draw’s amazing string was also his last victory. In the $25,000 overnight Sysonby Handicap at Belmont (below), he faced both Gallorette and multiple stakes winning filly War Date. Neither his competition nor the sloppy track deterred him, and Lucky Draw “lengthened out to win by twelve lengths”, leaving Gallorette far behind. For the final time, he lowered a track record.
Lucky Draw lost the Gallant Fox Handicap as the favorite, but this was a combination of his 129-pound burden and the longer distance of the race. He faded badly in the end, backing up to finish 8th of 11. His final race of the season was the Westchester Handicap on November 9, for which he was again the favorite.Triple Crown winner Assault, who had won the Gallant Fox, was even weights with Lucky Draw, and beat him by two lengths.