Second Chances: Gun Runner Connections 'Hoping for Another Strike of Lightning' with Pricey Curlin Colt Gun Party

Gun Party brings $1.7 million as a KEESEP yearling | Keeneland

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In this continuing series, TDN's Senior Racing Editor Steve Sherack catches up with the connections of promising maidens to keep on your radar.

With a ton of steam behind impressive debut winner Just a Touch (Justify) heading into Saturday's GIII Gotham S., the second-place finisher's come-from-behind effort over a sloppy, sealed track that day at Fair Grounds may look even better after this weekend.

Off at debut odds of 10-1 for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Gun Party (c, 3, Curlin–Carina Mia, by Malibu Moon) trailed the field of eight beneath Brian Hernandez, Jr. in the early stages of the six-furlong affair Jan. 27.

Guided to the inside to race in fifth through an opening quarter in :22.25, the Three Chimneys Farm and Winchell Thoroughbreds colorbearer began to wind up with a rail run as Just a Touch gained command approaching the quarter pole.

Gun Party gamely split horses and moved into second as Just a Touch pulled well clear in the stretch. Gun Party finished with interest while posing no threat to the winner to cross the line a geared-down second, beaten 4 1/4 lengths. It was another 5 1/4 lengths back to the third-place finisher.

Gun Party earned an 80 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. The Brad Cox-trained Just a Touch received an 89 rating.

“That looks like a really legit horse,” Three Chimneys Vice Chairman Doug Cauthen said of Just a Touch, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Gotham.

“We were very pleased and satisfied with (Gun Party's) effort because we knew that was a tough spot. Steve (Asmussen) had mentioned that he missed some time with him–he had gotten sick–and at this point, you're hoping that you can kick along and get into the big races. But at the end of the day, Steve's just letting the horse lead him. We think a lot of him. It's a great pedigree, a great cross and there's a lot of hope. But time will tell.”

 

Carina Mia | Coady

Produced by 2016 GI Acorn S. winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Carina Mia (Malibu Moon), Gun Party brought $1.7 million from these connections as a yearling on day one of the 2022 Keeneland September sale to dissolve a partnership.

Gun Party, the third most expensive of 60 yearlings to switch hands by the mighty Curlin in 2022, was bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm and Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc.

Third carrying the Three Chimneys silks in her career finale in the 2017 GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, Carina Mia brought $2.6 million from Japan's Shadai Farm at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

Gun Party is bred on the same Curlin x Malibu Moon cross as champion Stellar Wind. He is also bred similarly to fellow Curlin-sired champions Malathaat and Nest as well as Curlin-sired GISWs Clairiere, Global Campaign, Idol and Paris Lights.

“There were a bunch of partnership mares with Hill 'n' Dale, and when that group (of yearlings) went to the sale, he was a key one that was targeted,” Cauthen said. “Ron (Winchell) liked him as well so he came into the partnership. Hopefully, that team will have some more luck.”

That team of Winchell Thoroughbreds, Three Chimneys Farm and Asmussen, of course, also campaigned 2017 Horse of the Year and GI Breeders' Cup Classic winner Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}). The leading young sire currently commands a $250,000 stud fee at Goncalo Borges Torrealba's operation.

“Goncalo is very partner-friendly and usually asks the partners to name horses,” Cauthen said. “Ron's team came up with Gun Party. Think he's hoping for another strike of lightning.”

Gun Party has breezed three times since his unveiling, most recently working five furlongs in 1:01 (4/22) at Fair Grounds Feb. 25.

“I think Steve's trying to decide which direction to go,” Cauthen said. “More than likely he's gonna run in the next couple of weeks, but we're letting him decide.”

The 'Second Chances' Honor Roll is headed by recently crowned Horse of the Year Cody's Wish (Curlin), fellow two-time Breeders' Cup winner Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) and GISWs A Mo Reay (Uncle Mo), Honor A. P. (Honor Code), Locked (Gun Runner), Paradise Woods (Union Rags) and Speaker's Corner (Street Sense).

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