Gun Runner Another Big Shot for Cauthen

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Doug Cauthen | Joe DiOrio

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Doug Cauthen needs little introduction to the Thoroughbred world. A well-spoken renaissance man of racing, he has not only worn many hats, but also used his expertise and vision to reconfigure many of those into crowns. A lawyer turned bloodstock professional integral to the development and success of WinStar Farm during the first decade of this century, he helped launch Speightstown, Tiznow and Distorted Humor into the stallion stratosphere, while proving an intrinsic role in the Kentucky Derby success of Super Saver in his final year at WinStar. Cauthen also recruited and negotiated the purchase of a controlling interest in Harlan's Holiday from Airdrie Stud to WinStar as the first big stallion transaction he executed as president of Doug Cauthen Thoroughbred Management.

Much like his Hall of Fame jockey brother Steve was widely credited for eternally changing the concept of pace in European racing after his transatlantic tack shift, Cauthen has helped set the pace and raise the bar in an ever-evolving stallion market with his discerning prospecting eye, strategic management and shrewd placement. Such savvy has again been on blast over the last year, as the breeding industry saw Darby Dan Farm-based Dialed In defy his initial $7,500 stud fee and become leading first-crop stallion of 2016, while siring a major GI Kentucky Derby contender in Gunnevera.

“It's definitely exciting and a challenge to find a potential stallion prospect that I can really get behind and Dialed In was one of those horses that resonated with me,” Cauthen explained. “I'm proud of him and of the collaborative effort with all the Darby Dan team that has helped launch his career. It was the first off-the-racetrack stallion deal that I helped put together post-WinStar and I was able to bring in three clients of mine to buy the majority of him and then worked closely with Robert Hammond and Ryan Norton to structure and sell a limited number of breeding rights to launch his career. He has become a really exciting horse to be involved with and follow along with his successes. I loved the horse at the [2009 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, where he sold for $475,000], so when we couldn't get him bought, I still followed him through his racing career. I kept in touch with [trainer] Nick [Zito] and when he had sustained an injury and was off the radar for over a year, we were able to buy the majority of him, thanks to Nick's help. Mr. LaPenta stayed in and supported him, as well. All parties benefitted–the original breeding right holders, the original shareholders, DCTM and Darby Dan. He's what I consider an extreme shared success story and I think there's more to come from him.”

There is also likely more to come from Cauthen, as he not only recruited and helps promote and manage promising upcoming sires Palace Malice, Will Take Charge, Strong Mandate and Fast Anna, but also is involved with Grade I winner Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), whose admirable runner-up effort in the G1 Dubai World Cup last month would arguably have proven victorious in most editions of said event. A consistent and good-looking chestnut with a deep pedigree, Gun Runner looked to have the World Cup within grasp at the top of the stretch, but was overtaken by the mighty Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) in the final furlong. Owned equally by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm (of which Cauthen is a board member), Gun Runner will retire to the latter at the conclusion of his career.

“I think Gun Runner would be at the top of any breeder's list and is just a heck of a horse, from any perspective that you look at him,” Cauthen said. “You just have to see him once to like him a lot and then you look at his race record from two, three and four–his form is amazingly consistent and durable, and he has plenty of speed and he can carry it. All that, plus he has great balance and biomechanics and a tremendous pedigree that will suit a lot of mares. He's just a lovely specimen. Candy Ride continues to prove how important of a sire he is and is and I think Gun Runner will be his best product to go to stud. [Trainer] Steve [Asmussen] has done a great job letting him develop in his time and [assistant trainer] Scott [Blasi] had him happy and ready to run his best race, just like they have throughout his career.

“He was part of a package purchase that Three Chimneys made of mares, yearlings, weanlings, and racehorses from Besilu Stables and was a yearling at the time of the transaction,” Cauthen continued. “Thanks to [Three Chimneys COO] Chris Baker's connection to Mr. Leon and the Evans horses that Mr. Leon purchased out of the dispersal, Chris introduced Mr. Leon [Three Chimneys Chairman Gonçalo Borges Torrealba), and the deal was struck in August of 2014. However, since Three Chimneys is a commercial operation, Gun Runner was considered a candidate for a 2-year-old sales in Ocala in 2015. However, since Three Chimneys is a commercial operation, Gun Runner was considered a candidate for a 2-year-old sales in Ocala in the Spring of 2015. When Steve and [Winchell advisor] Dave Lambert saw him in Ocala and liked him, we all got together and the idea of partnering was proposed.”

Though the prospect of keeping Gun Runner in training in 2018 as a 5-year-old is possible, Cauthen noted that it is certainly likely that he could enter the stallion market at that time. In just 14 tries, he has won half his starts for $4.3 million in earnings, defeated older horses at the highest level and placed in the GI Kentucky Derby, GI Travers S. and GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Bred by Besilu, he is out of the Giant's Causeway mare Quiet Giant, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam, who annexed the Breeders' Cup Classic and three other Grade I events in his 5-year-old season and sired the likes of Horse of the Year Horse of the Year Havre de Grace during his own brief stud career.

“Things work out for a reason and since then, [Gun Runner] has done everything right for all parties involved,” Cauthen said. “He's shown up every race, bar two mud races–a surface he doesn't love–and has proven to be a special animal when it comes to the kind of determination and grit you often see in good runners and also in top progeny of stallions. That's a huge component to a stallion making it, their progeny having determination, and it is that little something extra. I certainly saw it in Distorted Humor and Tiznow's progeny and am starting to see it in these Dialed Ins, as well.

“You have to take it a day at a time and ultimately it'll be a decision left up to [Winchell and Torrealba] about when they want to retire him,” he concluded. “With the already-strong resume he has and which he can hopefully build on, it'll sure be great for the stallion barn at Three Chimneys when he walks in there to join the other promising ranks. He ran a tremendous race in Dubai and proved that he's a high-class animal who just happened to run into Man o' War II. If he can reproduce himself, I think he has a great chance to be a top stallion.”

If the hands helping guide him continue to produce successes at the rate Cauthen's have since the turn of the century, Gun Runner no doubt will have every opportunity to hit the mark.

 

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