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Three Chimneys lining up crack mares for Gun Runner

The leading Kentucky nursery tells us about the breeding season ahead

Gun Runner: retires to Three Chimneys after the Pegasus World Cup
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For Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, 2018 is beginning at a dizzying zenith. Not only does the farm possess America’s best racehorse and soon to be first-year stallion Gun Runner, but it also owns young members of his female family, a highly enviable position as breeding season nears.

Gun Runner is expected to earn the gold American Horse of the Year trophy, as well as the Eclipse Award as champion older male for 2017, for Three Chimneys and partner Winchell Thoroughbreds during the championship ceremony on January 25.

Two days later, he will run as the hot favourite to also take down the bulk of the astronomical $16 million purse in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes.

The elegant son of Candy Ride will commence stud duties shortly afterwards at Three Chimneys, where management led by chairman Goncalo Borges Torrealba has the exquisite pleasure of lining up mares for him while also making mating plans for his dam, the 11-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, and her half sister, the multiple Grade 1-placed Miss Besilu.

Chris Baker, Three Chimneys chief operating officer, said Quiet Giant will be bred to Curlin this season after being rested last year following her delivery of a full-brother to Gun Runner on May 17.

Gun Runner wins the Breeders' Cup Classic

“Obviously, he’s a very good stallion,” Baker said of the choice of Curlin for Gun Runner’s dam. "He suits her in pedigree, physical attributes and all the things we look for, such as stamina. It just made sense.”

A Grade 2 winner for the estate of her late breeder, Edward P Evans, in the final start of her racing career, Quiet Giant was sold for $3 million to Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stables in the 2011 dispersal of Evans’ horses, which Baker had managed while working for the breeder’s Spring Hill Farm in Virginia. Three Chimneys later privately acquired Quiet Giant and other bloodstock from Leon, and Baker wound up working at Three Chimneys with bloodlines he already knew well.

Gun Runner was Quiet Giant’s first foal, and she went on to produce the now four-year-old Malibu Moon filly Quiet Flirt and Tapit fillies the following two years. The 2015 Tapit filly was sold as a yearling to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $1.4m.

Meanwhile, Miss Besilu, a daughter of Medaglia D’Oro who was acquired by Leon as a foal for $2.6m from the Evans dispersal, has also made a name for herself. In addition to her Grade 1 placings as a three-year-old, she went on to produce a Tapit colt for Three Chimneys and Besilu that recouped her price by selling as a yearling in 2017 for $2.6 million to Pope.

Miss Besilu foaled a Candy Ride colt in 2017, is now in foal to Curlin and has been booked to Into Mischief.

“He injects a little speed into the mix and it’s a good physical cross,” Baker said.

Three Chimneys is setting aside many of its other top mares for Gun Runner, hoping to give the horse every chance to make his mark at stud.

Leading that distinguished group of about a dozen are Grade 1 winners Love And Pride, Malibu Prayer and Pure Clan, a trio that cost a combined $11.4m at auction.

Love And Pride, a ten-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy out of a half-sister to A.P. Indy’s champion son Bernardini, was bred to Curlin in 2017 after producing a Pioneerof The Nile filly last February. Her War Front colt foaled in 2015 was sold as a yearling to Shadwell Estate Co. for $1.3m; named Alfarqad, he has made two starts for trainer Owen Burrows in Britain and has placed once.

Malibu Prayer, another acquisition by Besilu from the Evans dispersal, is a half sister to $1.1m earner and multiple graded winner Valid and is out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Swagger Jack and Grade 2 winner Tap Dance. She was bred to Pioneerof The Nile in 2017.

Pure Clan produced a Tapit colt in 2014 that was sold as a yearling for $1.65 million but has not started. She has since produced a Tiznow filly in 2015 and a Tapit filly in 2016.

Other mares set to visit Gun Runner include:

  • Wapi, the Chilean champion and Group 1 winner by Scat Daddy who was purchased for $1.05m at Keeneland in November by Three Chimneys in partnership with Don Alberto Corp while carrying her first foal to the cover of Curlin
  • Quiet Temper, an 11-year-old Quiet American mare from the rich Phipps family of Grade 1 winners Dancing Spree, Furlough and Fantastic Find who produced a Tapit filly in 2015 that Pope purchased as a yearling for a $1.1m
  • With Flying Colors, a 13-year-old A.P. Indy mare out of Grade 1 winner My Flag and thus a half-sister to champion Storm Flag Flying and a granddaughter of the incomparable Personal Ensign
  • Amour D’Ete, a Tiznow full-sister to multiple graded winner and $1.6m earner Irap, as well as a half sister to champion and established sire Speightstown, who cost $1.75m as a yearling and who was bred to Super Saver in 2017, and
  • House of Danzing, the 16-year-old Chester House mare who is the dam of young Candy Ride sire Twirling Candy and whose yearling Will Take Charge colt sold for $500,000 to John Oxley last year.

Among Three Chimneys’ other most notable mares, Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and $2.8m acquisition Stopchargingmaria will visit Tapit after she delivers the Pioneerof The Nile foal she is carrying, Baker said.

Two other headline mares at Three Chimneys are in foal to Pioneerof The Nile: Uptown Twirl, the five-year-old half sister to Pioneerof The Nile’s champion son Classic Empire who will be bred back to Pioneerof The Nile again this season, and 2015 Kentucky Oaks runner-up Shook Up, a Tapit mare who was a $1.65m acquisition and who will be bred back to Curlin.

Love This Kitty, a seven-year-old Not For Love mare who is a half sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner and Prix Morny runner-up Hootenanny, will be bred to Hootenanny’s sire Quality Road this spring after producing a promising filly by that stallion in 2016, Baker said.

R Gypsy Gold, a Grade 1-placed stakes winner from the family of young sire Dialed In and champion Eliza, will visit Pioneerof The Nile this year. By Bernardini and a $625,000 purchase in 2013, R Gypsy Gold’s first two foals, fillies by Medaglia D’Oro and Pioneerof The Nile, sold as yearlings for $775,000 and $825,000, respectively.

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