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Pedigree Insights: Gun Runner


Gun Runner | Hodges Photography

By Andrew Caulfield

Thanks to the imperious American Pharoah, last year saw the Fappiano branch of the Mr. Prospector-male line strengthen its grip on the Triple Crown events. Fappiano himself sired a GI Kentucky Derby winner in the 1990 hero Unbridled, who matched that feat in 1996, via Grindstone. Another of Fappiano’s sons, Quiet American, also made his mark on the Derby, thanks to Real Quiet in 1998, and the male line enjoyed success number four with Grindstone’s grandson Mine That Bird in 2009. American Pharoah therefore became Kentucky Derby winner number five when this great-grandson of Unbridled shone so brightly last year.

We are still only a little way along the road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby, but Gun Runner, the current pacesetter with 51 points, is a colt inbred 4×4 to none other than Fappiano.

These two lines come through two sons of Fappiano which have already made an impact on the Triple Crown. As a son of the in-form Candy Ride, Gun Runner is a great-grandson of Cryptoclearance and the second line comes via Quiet American, sire of Gun Runner’s highly successful second dam, Quiet Dance. You probably won’t need me to remind you that Quiet American and Cryptoclearance dominated the 1998 Triple Crown. Quiet American’s son Real Quiet appeared to have a great chance of completing the Triple Crown, only to be thwarted by the narrowest margin by his old rival Victory Gallop–a son of Cryptoclearance–in the Belmont.

I am expecting to see more and more inbreeding to Fappiano over the coming years, and even inbreeding to his son Unbridled. For instance, sending daughters of Empire Maker to Tapit produces 3×3 to Unbridled and this inbreeding to Unbridled has already been green-lighted by a couple of graded winners.

The best previous examples of horses inbred within four generations to Fappiano include the GI Travers S. winner Will Take Charge (3×4, via Unbridled and Rubiano), Ring Weekend (4×3) and Justin Philip(4×3). There is another possible Kentucky Derby contender with similar elements in his pedigree to Gun Runner’s, namely the GI Champagne S. winner Greenpointcrusader, who also owes his 4×3 inbreeding to Fappiano to Quiet American and Cryptoclearance.

The GII Louisiana Derby has been mentioned as the next likely steppingstone for GII Risen Star S. winner Gun Runner, who will be bidding to emulate a double completed last year by International Star. I will be watching Gun Runner’s performance over the extra 110 yards with interest. He was being overhauled towards the end of the Risen Star by Uncle Mo’s sons Forevamo and Mo Tom and he faltered in the stretch when he suffered his only defeat in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S.

I have to say that there is no obvious reason on pedigree to question the colt’s ability to shine over a mile and an eighth or even a mile and a quarter. His sire Candy Ride covered a mile and a quarter in a record-setting 1:59.11 in winning the GI Pacific Classic and his best son, Shared Belief, numbered the Pacific Classic and GI Santa Anita H. among his 10 wins from 12 starts. Significantly, Shared Belief was out of a daughter of Storm Cat, whereas Gun Runner is out of a grand-daughter, by the outstanding 10-furlong performer Giant’s Causeway.

Giant’s Causeway frequently passes on a good measure of his stamina to his progeny, to the extent that they have an average winning distance of 9.6 furlongs in Britain and Ireland (compared to Storm Cat’s 7.7 furlongs). This stamina has been apparent in plenty of his American-raced progeny, such as Frost Giant, Red Giant, Heatseeker and Imagining. Incidentally, Giant’s Causeway’s name crops up in a variety of roles among the horses which have already acquired Kentucky Derby points. He is the sire of Brody’s Cause (GI Breeders’ Futurity), the paternal grandsire of Eskendereya’s son Mor Spirit and now the broodmare sire of Gun Runner.

Gun Runner’s dam Quiet Giant gained her graded success over 1 1/16 miles, in the GII Molly Pitcher S. as a 4-year-old. It is hardly surprising that it cost Ben Leon $3 million to secure Quiet Giant when she appeared a couple of months later as part of the Ned Evans dispersal at Keeneland, in 2011. She is, after all, a daughter of the excellent broodmare Quiet Dance.

You can gauge the scale of Quiet Dance’s achievements by the fact that she 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 $9.45 million for four daughters, three of which were acquired by Leon’s Besilu Stables. The weanling, later named Miss Besilu, proved her worth with Grade I thirds in the CCA Oaks and the Alabama S.

Quiet Giant was the third graded winner produced by Quiet Dance, easily the most famous of the three being Saint Liam, who collected the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic on his way to Horse of the Year honors. One of Quiet Giant’s older half-sisters, the Honour and Glory mare Beatem Buster, has already produced a Grade I winner in Mother Goose S. winner Buster’s Ready. Quiet Giant has every chance of also hitting that target, either with Gun Runner or with another of her well-bred youngsters. These include a 2015 Tapit filly which is another inbred 4×4 to Fappiano.

Needless to say, the excellence of this female line doesn’t stop at Quiet Giant and Quiet Dance (runner-up in the GII Demoiselle S). Gun Runner’s sixth dam is Gallorette, a champion handicap mare who numbered the Beldame, Brooklyn, Whitney, Carter and Metropolitan H.s among her long list of stakes successes. His third dam, Misty Dancer, was a three-parts sister by Lyphard to The Minstrel’s fast and precocious daughter Minstrella.


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