West Point Thoroughbreds et al’s Gunmetal Gray picked up 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby series with his last-to-first score in Saturday’s Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. The three-year-old son of Exchange Rate picked up his first graded win for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer, running down a capable field of prospects late beneath Mike Smith to win by a length.
The Kentucky-bred colt was no match for the talented Roadster on debut but showed vast improvement with more ground to work with in a second lifetime appearance. Gunmetal Gray seized the lead nearing the turn for home and powered clear to a 6 ¾-length tally going one mile at Del Mar.
Purchased for $225,000 at the 2018 OBS March Sale, the gray colt had the misfortune of running into soon-to-be champion Game Winner in his next two races. He was second in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1), which preceded a fifth-place showing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his two-year-old finale.
Gunmetal Gray is by Exchange Rate who is responsible for at least 90 stakes winners from 14 crops to date. Overall, many of the top runners by Exchange Rate have prospered at middle distances on both dirt and turf.
His dam is the Grade 1-placed Include mare Classofsixtythree, who finished third in the 2010 Ruffian Invitational Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. If Gunmetal Gray is to thrive going classic distances, his stamina will come from his female line.
The sophomore has proven to be capable of running with some of the best in his generation to this point. He shows four races as a two-year-old to build a solid foundation, and having a quartet of route races under his belt is another big positive going forward.
While his pedigree is far from blue-blooded, Gunmetal Gray is obviously very talented and it wouldn’t surprise me if he would stay nine furlongs and beyond with Broad Brush, Blushing Groom and Alleged on the bottom half of his family tree.
Hollendorfer is on the short list of standout conditioners yet to break through on the First Saturday in May. Could this be the year?