With Justify, Glennwood Has Another Dazzling Prospect


Justify | Benoit photo

By Bill Finley

The father-daughter team of John and Tanya Gunther, who operate Glennwood Farm, only own about 20 mares. Anyone can get lucky with those kind of numbers and produce an occasional good horse. But this many good horses?

Glennwood’s hot streak continued Sunday at Santa Anita when Justify (Scat Daddy) broke his maiden in his debut by 9 1/2 lengths while earning a Beyer figure of 104 and ‘TDN Rising Stardom.’ Trainer Bob Baffert was so impressed that he said afterwards he will point the colt to the GI Kentucky Derby, even though the race is less than 11 weeks away.

“It’s not too late,” said Baffert. “I’ve got a plan…We’re looking for a graded stakes race. He’s shown his brilliance in the morning.”

The Gunthers are also the breeders of Vino Rosso (Curlin), a good third in the GIII Sam F. Davis S. at Tampa Bay and the co-breeders of Mo Town (Uncle Mo), winner of last year’s GI Hollywood Derby. They’re making their mark overseas as well. They are the co-breeders of On the Warpath (GB) (Declaration of War), a two-time winner in England who, according to Tanya Gunther, was recently purchased by Darley in order to campaign in Dubai. Then there’s Without Parole (GB) (Frankel {GB}). They own and bred the colt who romped in his debut in December for John Gosden at Newcastle. He has been nominated to most of the 2018 European Classics.

Over the years they have also bred Grade I winners Tamarkuz (Speightstown), Stay Thirsty (Bernardini), First Samurai (Giant’s Causeway), Stevie Wonderboy (Stephen Got Even) and Materiality (Afleet Alex).

“The last several years I have to give credit to my daughter,” John Gunther said. “She was in investment banking in London for 10 years, so she is very analytical and she puts a lot of stats together. After 10 years of investment banking, she wanted to pursue her passion, which was horses, and she left London and went to Kentucky and managed the farm. She’s very hands on and very analytical. She gets on to some of these stallions and she studies and studies pedigrees, going back several generations.”

Tanya gives credit to her father for finding mares, some of which did not cost a lot of money, that keep producing quality horses.

After Justify was purchased by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club and SF Racing LLC for $500,000 at Keeneland September, Gunther said he heard little about the colt. He did catch video of some of his workouts and was impressed. Combining the works and his remembrances of what kind of prospect Justify seemed to be when on the Gunther’s farm, he predicted something special was going to happen before the colt made his first start.

“I had a good feeling about this horse,” he said. “In fact, I told my son [John Gunther Jr.] before he ran that we have two horses we bred have a good shot of shot running in the Kentucky Derby. One being Vino Rosso. He asked me who the other horse was and I said, ‘His name is Justify. I think he will run in the Kentucky Derby.’ He asked how many starts he had and I said none. To just break his maiden and now everyone is thinking of running him in the Kentucky Derby, that’s quite special. With the way he won, he could be one of the nicest horses I’ve ever bred or raced.”

“It sort of took your breath away,” Tanya Gunther said. “He was amazing. To win like that in your debut going seven furlongs, which is a difficult distance, you just don’t see [that] happen. Even though we thought very highly of this horse throughout the time we had him, and I’m sure his connections did as well, you never anticipate a horse doing something as easily as he did and as impressively as he did.”

Vino Rosso was sold for $410,000 to Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, also at Keeneland September. The Gunthers have a small racing stable and John Gunther said it is necessary to sell well-bred horses like Justify and Vino Rosso to keep a cash flow coming in. But Without Parole is one they did keep.

“That was my dad’s mating,” Tanya said. “He loves Frankel. My dad is right up there as one of his biggest fans in the world.”

Without Parole was put in the 2016 Tattersalls October Sale but did not meet his reserve. That may be a good thing for the Gunthers.

While the colt won a race on an all-weather track that was worth just $9,300, he did so with the type of flourish that has everyone excited.

“He won his first start in England by six, but he could have own by 10,” John Gunther said. “We think a lot this colt. He’ll be making first start as 3-year-old probably around the first week in April and John Gosden nominated him to the English and Irish Guineas. He likes him a lot.”

By the time Without Parole returns to the races, the Gunthers will have a better idea if Justify can pull off what seems to be nearly impossible. Even with Baffert as the trainer, even with a horse with this kind of talent, can a horse go from making his first start Feb. 18 to winning the Kentucky Derby, let alone even making the race? The Gunthers believe that he can and so does Baffert. Then there’s Vino Rosso, an improving colt trained by Todd Pletcher. For Glennwood Farm, it figures to be an exciting spring.


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