As Pegasus Nears, Groundwork Laid For Gun Runner's Next Career

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Gun Runner | Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

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In recent weeks, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's five-time Grade I winner Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) has by all accounts been training forwardly ahead of his final career start in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park Jan. 27–a $16-million race that provides a fitting finale for the speedy chestnut, who recently captured the GI Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 4. But once Gun Runner crosses the finish line in Hallandale, there will be an abrupt shift in focus to his next career as a stallion.

According to Grant Williamson, Director of Stallion Nominations and Sales at Three Chimneys, Gun Runner has already received a warm reception from breeders.

“We're seeing the type of response that you'd expect,” Williamson said. “We're closing in on about 150 mares to him.”

While Williamson said he is pleased with the external response to Gun Runner, Three Chimneys will also be offering significant support with their own diverse broodmare band.

“We've got a nice broodmare band here, and we're breeding the likes of an older mare who's a proven producer, House of Danzing (Chester House).” Williamson said. “We're trying to give him a nice range of mares. Grade I winners like Malibu Prayer (Malibu Moon) and Love and Pride (A.P. Indy) will visit him, as well as younger, stakes-producing mares like With Flying Colors (A.P. Indy), who has an exceptional family. Those are the kind of hand-picked mares that fit both from a pedigree standpoint, as well as physically.”

House of Danzing is responsible for Grade I winner and sire Twirling Candy and Grade III winner Dubai Sky–both of whom are sired by Gun Runner's sire Candy Ride–as well as Grade II winner Ethnic Dance (Tribal Rule). Malibu Prayer, meanwhile, is an intriguing match for Gun Runner, as the mating represents the intersection of two accomplished families developed by the late Edward P. Evans. With Flying Colors hails from the outstanding Phipps family of Personal Ensign, while Love and Pride's second dam is Cara Rafaela (Quiet American), herself the dam of champion and prominent sire Bernardini (A.P. Indy).

“We talked extensively about what kind of mares suit him, and you don't want to breed the same type of mare to him over and over again–because you want to figure out what works,” Williamson explained.

Williamson noted that many of the mares booked to Gun Runner are young mares purchased out of the November sales. He said Gun Runner's brief visit to Three Chimneys following the Breeders' Cup provided prospective breeders with an opportunity to observe the colt's class in person.

“It's one thing to see a horse at the track under tack and be impressed by how he moves, but when he comes to the farm and behaves the way he did, that's what impressed people,” Williamson said. “He's such a good-looking horse.”

One factor Williamson believes will play only a very minor role in the shaping of Gun Runner's stallion career is the outcome of the Pegasus. While the Steve Asmussen trainee looms as a heavy favorite in the world's richest horse race, the colt is already a proven commodity by virtue of his 2017 campaign, which is expected to land him Horse of the Year honors.

“I think the interest was strong straight off the bat, and I don't think the Pegasus has any bearing on people's response to the horse,” Williamson said. “Obviously, the purse money available is the main attraction for Mr. Winchell and Mr. Torrealba…He's coming off an exceptional year and the opportunity is hard to pass up.”

Plans call for Gun Runner to return to Three Chimneys soon after his run in the Pegasus.

 

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