By Andrew Caulfield
There was a time when any visit to Kentucky would not be complete without a visit to Robert Clay’s Three Chimneys Farm. Time the visit right and you might witness the unusual sight of the stallions returning to the barn after their ridden exercise. I remember well seeing the two-time champion Slew o’Gold being hosed down afterwards, but it was always his sire Seattle Slew who was the star of the show.
Subsequent years saw the likes of Rahy and Dynaformer added to the team, with these two being particularly interesting to a European visitor. However, the emphasis at Three Chimneys–controlled by the Borges Torrealba family since November 2013–is now firmly on dirt performers, with the aim being to produce dirt stallions from the Three Chimneys mares.
As Goncalo Borges Torrealba told Ben Massam in an October 2016 TDN interview, “everything we do, at the end of the day, goes toward filling up our stallion barn with the best quality there can be…Our plan is definitely stallions, stallions and stallions.”
The current roster stands at seven, now that Gun Runner has ended his racing career in a blaze of glory in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Significantly, six of the seven stallions were Grade I winners on dirt, the exception being Fast Anna, who missed that Grade I target by only a neck in the King’s Bishop S.
Gun Runner is the highest-priced at $70,000, and next in the pecking order come Will Take Charge, who lost the 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic so narrowly, having earlier won the GI Travers S., and Palace Malice, the 2013 GI Belmont S. winner who later demonstrated his versatility with victory in the GI Metropolitan H. over a mile. Will Take Charge is priced at $30,000, with Palace Malice at $20,000.
In the same interview, conducted before Gun Runner had gained the first of his six Grade I victories, Massam asked “What do you see in Gun Runner that makes you think he will be a successful stallion?”
Torrealba’s enthusiastic response was that, “Although we did not breed him, we bought into him as a yearling and also acquired the whole family when we did the partnership with Besilu [Stables]. He’s already from the family of a very successful stallion who was deceased prematurely, Saint Liam. And of course, Candy Ride is a bloodline that is open to all the A. P. Indy, Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer lines. It’s a great cross for every good American bloodline there is. The physical is second to none, the pedigree is great…. He’s the whole package…. He’s a horse we want to send our best mares to.”
Torrealba’s enthusiasm must now be even greater following the events of the last 15 months. Gun Runner packed nine starts (and a lot of travel) into those months and his considerable talent and consistency yielded seven victories and two seconds, including his fine effort behind Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) in the G1 Dubai World Cup. It is testament to the 5-year-old’s temperament that he was able to parade for breeders at Three Chimneys in Kentucky just a few days after he had made all to defeat Collected (City Zip), West Coast (Flatter), War Story (Northern Afleet) and Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in California.
That front-running Classic success represented Gun Runner’s first victory over a mile and a quarter and there was never much doubt that he possessed enough early speed to overcome his wide draw when he dropped back a furlong in the Pegasus.
It is interesting that both Gun Runner and his fellow Three Chimneys stallion Will Take Charge are both in-bred to Fappiano, a stallion whose impact on American dirt racing looks set to rise and rise. Whereas Will Take Charge is inbred 3×4, via Unbridled and Rubiano, Gun Runner is inbred 4×4, via Cryptoclearance and Quiet American–the stallions who combined to complete the 1998 Triple Crown via their sons Victory Gallop and Real Quiet.
Although I haven’t seen Gun Runner in the flesh, he appears to be a very different physical type to the 17-hands Will Take Charge. He is by the 15.3-hands Candy Ride, another individual who showed that you don’t need to be big to shine on dirt. Like Gun Runner, Candy Ride shone over Del Mar’s tight mile and a quarter, covering the distance in 1:59.11 when he defeated Medaglia d’Oro to take the 2003 GI Pacific Classic. It mustn’t be forgotten that Candy Ride also won the GII American H. on turf, as well as a pair of Argentine Group 1s contested over a mile on turf. Candy Ride took both of those Argentine Group 1s by eight lengths, so he was clearly capable of producing high-class form both on dirt and turf.
Gun Runner’s broodmare sire Giant’s Causeway was also top class on turf, before being narrowly beaten by Tiznow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt, so Gun Runner has every chance of siring smart runners on all surfaces in the U.S. (though perhaps not on turf in Europe, where Fappiano’s descendants have traditionally struggled).
Candy Ride now has a dozen Grade I winners to his credit, with pride of place belonging to Gun Runner and his fellow Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief, who was the champion 2-year-old of 2013. Like Gun Runner, Shared Belief combined speed with a valuable amount of stamina, proving the latter with victories over a mile and a quarter in the GI Pacific Classic and GI Santa Anita H.
Shared Account had a dam by Storm Cat, as do his fellow graded stakes winners Sidney’s Candy (GI), Sweet Swap (GIII) and Tiger Ride (GIII). Candy Ride’s affinity for Storm Cat blood is also evident in the Grade I successes of Evita Argentina and Capt. Candyman who–like Gun Runner–have dams by sons of Storm Cat. Storm Cat also sired the second dam of Mastery, the Grade I-winning Candy Ride colt who looked so promising when he won his first four starts, only to suffer a career-ending injury soon after crossing the line in the GII San Felipe S. Mastery, like Gun Runner, will shortly be covering his first mares, as he has joined the Claiborne team at a fee of $25,000.
Both these new stallions come from first-rate female lines which have previously produced successful stallions. Gun Runner’s dam, the Grade II winner Quiet Giant, is a half-sister to Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year who also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Tragically, Saint Liam fractured a hind leg not long after he had completed his first season at Lane’s End Farm. Saint Liam’s legacy amounted to fewer than 100 foals, but four of them became graded winners and another three were graded placed. Remarkably, one of them–the filly Havre de Grace–emulated her sire’s Horse of the Year achievement before being sold for $10 million.
Of course, Gun Runner also recently landed the Horse of the Year title and he too comes from a family which is no stranger to huge prices in the sales ring. His dam, the GII Molly Pitcher S. winner Quiet Giant, cost Besilu Stables $3 million when she appeared as part of the Ned Evans dispersal in 2011.
Gun Runner’s second dam Quiet Dance was also represented at the 2011 sale by her stakes-winning A.P. Indy filly Dance Quietly (who sold for $2 million), her Medaglia d’Oro weanling filly ($2.6 million) and her winning Tiznow filly Quiet Now ($1.85 million). That’s a total of $9,450,000 for four daughters, three of which were acquired by Ben Leon’s Besilu operation.
The weanling, later named Miss Besilu, proved her worth with Grade I thirds in the CCA Oaks and the Alabama S. Quiet Now has also added to the family fortunes, as her War Front filly Lull numbers the GIII Autumn Miss S. among her black-type victories. One of Quiet Giant’s older half-sisters, the Honour and Glory mare Beatem Buster, also made her mark by producing the GI Mother Goose S. winner Buster’s Ready.
Quiet Dance’s daughters look well placed to add more smart winners to the family’s long list. Quiet Giant has a late-foaled 2-year-old filly by Tapit, plus a late-foaled 2017 brother to Gun Runner. Miss Besilu also has a 2-year-old by Tapit and a yearling colt by Candy Ride, while Dance Quietly has a 2-year-old and a yearling by Medaglia d’Oro.