Taking Stock: Gun Runner Flexes Candy Ride/Storm Cat Nick

Gun Runner | Sarah Andrew


Two sons of Candy Ride (Arg)–Gun Runner and Twirling Candy–were represented by three 2-year-old Grade l winners over the weekend, and do you know one thing they had in common? Each was produced by a Storm Cat-line mare. This affinity for the Storm Cat line was also an important feature of Candy Ride's own success, and breeders appear to be copying that formula with his sons. It's not surprising; it's something that usually happens when a stallion is successful with the females of another sire line, and this type of repetition of a successful pattern is what's known as a nick–something that's been around as long as people have been breeding racehorses.

Three Chimneys's Gun Runner, whose first crop is two, was represented by two of the top-level winners: Gl Hopeful S. winner Gunite, from black-type winner Simple Surprise, a daughter of Cowboy Cal (by Giant's Causeway, a son of Storm Cat); and Gl Spinaway winner Echo Zulu, out of Grade ll winner Letgomyecho, by Menifee (by Harlan, a son of Storm Cat).

Lane's End's Twirling Candy, the best and most proven son of Candy Ride to date, is the sire of Gl Del Mar Futurity winner Pinehurst, who's from unplaced Giant Win, by Giant's Causeway. Note that Twirling Candy's current Gl Preakness S. winner Rombauer is bred similarly. Rombauer's dam is by Cowboy Cal, who as noted above is by Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway is also the broodmare sire of Gun Runner, making Gun Runner a product of the same Candy Ride/Storm Cat nick as his Grade l winners. However, when Gun Runner is bred to mares with either Giant's Causeway or Storm Cat in their pedigrees, a duplication to one or the other takes place. Essentially, breeders who send Storm Cat-line mares to Gun Runner are copying the pattern that produced him and are consciously inbreeding as well to Storm Cat, one of the great modern stallions, or to his best racing and sire son Giant's Causeway, if a mare by the latter or one of his sons is used.

Gunite is inbred 3×3 to Giant's Causeway, and Echo Zulu is 4×4 to Storm Cat.

Gun Runner's wins included the Breeders' Cup Classic during his 2017 Horse of the Year campaign | Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

For Gun Runner, getting two Grade l-winning 2-year-olds in the first crop is a big deal, and this achievement marks the Horse of the Year, who was best at four and five, as something special. It's natural to expect that his offspring should continue to get better with age, giving him a high ceiling to anticipate.

But there's more to Gun Runner already. He also has two Grade ll winners, and their dam's pedigrees also contain Storm Cat. Pappacap, winner of the Gll Best Pal S., is from a Grade lll-placed daughter of Scat Daddy (Johannesburg/Hennessy/Storm Cat), making him 4×5 to Storm Cat; and Wicked Halo, who won the Gll Adirondack, is out of the Tapit mare Just Wicked, who also won the Adirondack. Just Wicked's dam, black-type winner Wicked Deed, is by Harlan's Holiday (Harlan), and Wicked Halo, therefore, is 4×5 to Storm Cat.

Three of these four–Gunite, Echo Zulu, and Wicked Halo–are raced by Winchell Thoroughbreds, which raced Gun Runner in partnership with Three Chimneys. Winchell also raced Tapit, and it's no surprise that Wicked Halo is a homebred from a mare by their standout Gainesway sire. Winchell bred Gunite and bought Echo Zulu, a half-sister to Grade l winner Echo Town (Speightstown) and Grade lll winner J Boys Echo (Mineshaft), for $300,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.

Steve Asmussen trained Gun Runner, and he trains the Winchell trio.

Sire Clusters

First off, let me say that by speaking of the stallions in a pedigree, I'm not diminishing the importance of physical attributes nor the contributions of the female family, which is as important. The dam of Echo Zulu, for example, was already an accomplished black-type producer before her Gun Runner filly won at the highest level.

And Gun Runner, an attractive and refined 16.2-hand specimen, is himself a product of a great female line that stretches back for generations full of high-class runners. Closer up, Gun Runner is from Grade ll winner Quiet Giant–a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam and fellow Three Chimneys stallion and Grade l winner Funtastic.

However, stallions have exponentially more foals than mares, and sire patterns–not just nicks, or sire-line crosses, as they are also known, but also clusters of favorable sires–are more easily discernible in pedigrees.

Lane's End stalwart Candy Ride | Lane's End

Candy Ride is a Fappiano-line stallion from an unusual path (Ride the Rails/ Cryptoclearance/ Fappiano), and he's had success with other lines aside from Storm Cat, such as with A.P. Indy and Fappiano himself through other, more familiar branches.

Gun Runner, for example, is bred on the Candy Ride/Storm Cat sire-line cross, but his dam also has Fappiano in her pedigree, making Gun Runner 4×4 to Fappiano. Therefore, in his case, the cluster of Storm Cat and Fappiano form a favorable basis.

Current 3-year-old Candy Ride Grade l winner Rock Your World is from an Empire Maker (Unbridled/Fappiano) mare whose dam is by Giant's Causeway; therefore, he's also 4×4 to Fappiano with Storm Cat present in the pedigree though Giant's Causeway.

Grade l winner Mastery, a son of Candy Ride at Claiborne with first-crop 2-year-olds, is from a mare by Old Trieste (A.P. Indy) whose dam is by Storm Cat.

The aforementioned Gun Runner 2-year-old Grade l winner Gunite is from a Cowboy Cal (Giant's Causeway) mare and the next dam is by Pulpit (A.P. Indy).

And the Gun Runner filly Wicked Halo, noted earlier from the Tapit (Pulpit/A.P. Indy) mare, not only has Storm Cat in the pedigree but also Fappiano through Tapit's broodmare sire Unbridled, making her 5x5x5 to Fappiano in addition to 4×5 Storm Cat. She's got a three-strong sire cluster of Storm Cat, Fappiano, and A.P. Indy girding her pedigree.

Candy Ride Stallions

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the investment in Candy Ride stallions that stud farms in Kentucky and in regional areas have made. One of the stallions mentioned is Unified, who has his first 2-year-olds racing this year. The Lane's End-based sire is represented so far by two black-type winners, Roger McQueen and Behave Virginia. The former is out of a Storm Cat-line mare and has Fappiano in the dam's pedigree (5×4 Fappiano); the latter is from a Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) mare and also has Fappiano in the dam's pedigree (5×4 Fappiano).

I also wrote about the once-raced Candy Ride stallion Valiant Minister at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala. Valiant Minister is the sire of Outfoxed, a filly who won the restricted $200,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Susan's Girl S. at the end of last month and looks like a future open company stakes winner. Though her sire stands for $3,000, she was a $360,000 OBS April 2-year-old. Her broodmare sire? It's former Florida stallion Kantharos (Lion Heart/Tale of the Cat/Storm Cat), who is a Storm Cat-line horse.

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

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