First-crop sires: Gun Runner's Red Run, Pappacap fire on debut

June 22nd, 2021

Freshman Orientation: Gun Runner's Red Run, Pappacap fire on debut

Horse of the Year Gun Runner is off to a blazing start with his first crop. Considering his own profile, as a colt who progressed at three and blossomed into a champion at four, it’s a most encouraging sign that he can get precocious early-season juveniles.

Gun Runner’s profile

After all, Gun Runner never raced at less than a mile, and he didn’t debut as a two-year-old until September. But the son of Candy Ride and the Grade 2-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, herself a half-sister to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, did win his first two starts.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner developed into a contender on the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) trail. The chestnut turned the Risen Star S. (G2)/Louisiana Derby (G2) double before finishing third in the Derby. Gun Runner was a distant third to divisional champion Arrogate in the Travers S. (G1), and added placings in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

But Gun Runner’s final start of 2016 marked a turning point. By defeating elders in wire-to-wire fashion in the Clark H. (G1), he served notice of what was to come. He lost just once more, as the runner-up to Arrogate in the 2017 Dubai World Cup (G1).

Gun Runner romped in his last five races, all Grade 1s – the Stephen Foster H., Whitney, Woodward (by 10 1/4 lengths), Breeders’ Cup Classic (leaving Arrogate well behind), and Pegasus World Cup (recording a stratospheric 119 Brisnet Speed rating).

Retiring at his peak, Gun Runner had the unbeatable combination of superior speed and the stamina to carry it over the American classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. He amassed a bankroll of $15,988,500 from a record of 19-12-3-2, his only two unplaced efforts coming on sloppy tracks.

Gun Runner entered stud at Three Chimneys for a $70,000 fee. His progeny have been lighting up the sales ring, and now they’re hitting the racetrack.

First winner: Red Run

Red Run became a fitting first winner for his sire, as a Winchell homebred trained by Asmussen. He is the first foal produced by the Tapit mare Red House, an unraced full sister to the same connections’ champion filly Untapable. Red House is also a half to Grade 1-winning turf millionaire Paddy O’Prado, third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

Appearing to resemble Gun Runner, Red Run proved different in one important respect – he handled the slop just fine. The chestnut colt was sent off as the 7-10 favorite in his May 9 unveiling in a five-furlong maiden at Churchill Downs. Third through an opening quarter in :22.25, Red Run gained momentum in the stretch. He caught the leader at the half-mile mark in :46.30 and drew 1 3/4 lengths clear in :59.22. Another Gun Runner colt, Woodline, rallied for third after a slow start.

Note that both Red Run and the pacesetting runner-up, Trebbiano, are nominated to Saturday’s Bashford Manor S. (G3). So is the Winchells’ Gunite, a son of Gun Runner who’s placed in both of his starts.

Second winner: Pappacap

On May 14, Pappacap won at first asking at Gulfstream Park for Hall of Famer Mark Casse. The even-money favorite showed his sire’s high speed when leading through fractions of :22.71 and :45.65 on the fast track. Despite being pressed early, Pappacap was unfazed. On the contrary, the bay colt effortlessly disposed of his pace companion and opened up. Pappacap crossed the wire a 2 3/4-length winner while completing five furlongs in :58.40.

A Florida homebred for Rustlewood Farm, Pappacap is out of the Grade 3-placed Scat Daddy mare Pappascat.

Third winner: Wicked Halo

Representing the same Winchell/Asmussen team as Red Run, homebred filly Wicked Halo is bred on the same cross being out of a Tapit mare. Her dam, 2015 Adirondack S. (G2) heroine Just Wicked, is in turn a full sister to Grade 2 winner My Miss Lilly.

Wicked Halo justified 2.70-1 favoritism in her June 5 premiere at Lone Star Park. A gray like her dam, she sped to the front from her rail post, carved out splits of :22.43 and :45.83, and maintained a two-length margin to the wire. There was a 10 1/2-length gap to third. Wicked Halo reeled off five furlongs in :57.77 on the muddy track, earning a fine 95 Brisnet Speed rating.

Subsequently shipped to Churchill, Wicked Halo is nominated to Saturday’s Debutante S.

About the series

Freshman Orientation is a series highlighting five different sires with a first crop of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds. Could the juveniles show up at the Breeders' Cup or even the 2022 Kentucky Derby? Follow along and find out!

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