First-crop Sires: Guntown, Elusive Target bring Gun Runner's tally to 10 winners

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 17th, 2021

Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year, is one of the young sires with first-crop two-year-olds that the TwinSpires team is following in 2021.

Leading freshman sire Gun Runner has added two more juveniles to his win column, bringing up his total to 10 winners. Guntown and Elusive Target both scored at Ellis Park for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who recently broke the North American record for most career wins.

Moreover, two of Gun Runner’s early winners, Pappacap and Wicked Halo, gave him a graded stakes double over the weekend of Aug. 7-8. Pappacap won the Best Pal S. (G2) at Del Mar, and Wicked Halo captured the Adirondack S. (G2) at Saratoga. Two other Gun Runner progeny, Gunite and Costa Terra, turned in notable stakes placings this past weekend.

Let’s catch up with his rapid-fire successes!


A half-brother to champion Untapable, the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner, Guntown is likewise a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred trained by Asmussen. Guntown and Untapable are out of Broodmare of the Year Fun House, who is also responsible for Grade 1 turf hero Paddy O’Prado, the third-placer in the 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Given a hefty bump out of the gate in his July 11 unveiling at Ellis, Guntown found himself farther back in the pack early, but rallied strongly for third. That effort at seven furlongs made him the 5-2 favorite next time over a mile on Aug. 13, and a smoother trip produced a much better result.

Guntown, away in good order with new rider Martin Garcia, closely tracked the leader through splits of :24.29 and :48.31. Looming ominously passing six furlongs in 1:11.80, the bay punched clear in the stretch. Guntown crossed the wire a 4 1/4-length winner in a final time of 1:35.96, good for an 87 Brisnet Speed rating.

Elusive Target

Elusive Target was moving forward from a non-threatening sixth in his July 11 debut over the same seven-furlong trip at Ellis. Next time out on Aug. 1, he was engaged from the start from his inside post. The 3.40-1 chance set the pace through fractions of :23.42 and :46.96, appeared beaten when a couple of rivals passed him on the turn, but still had plenty up his sleeve. Once jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. asked him, Elusive Target roared back to reclaim the lead and drew off by 3 3/4 lengths in 1:25.20.

Elusive Target’s pedigree is very similar to that of Grade 1 winner Leofric. Their dams are full sisters, and Leofric is by the same sire as Gun Runner – Candy Ride.

A Besilu Stable homebred, Elusive Target is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Ultimate Reward, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3-winning sprinter Multiple Choice. His dam is also closely related to six-time stakes winner Inspired and Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Silver City, from the further family of Grade 1-winning mother and son Well Chosen and Telling.

Graded double plus two other stakes performers

Rustlewood Farm’s homebred Pappacap extended his record to 2-for-2 in the Best Pal at Del Mar. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, the stalker rolled by 4 3/4 lengths to put himself into the discussion for the Sept. 6 Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Another Gun Runner from the Winchell/Asmussen team, Wicked Halo, ran her rivals ragged in the Adirondack. Her dam, Just Wicked, had won the 2015 Adirondack for the same connections.

Wicked Halo’s stablemate, Gunite, also flashed serious speed in the Saratoga Special S. (G2). Although he could not contain the convincing winner, High Oak, Gunite stuck to his task gamely to finish a clear second.

On Sunday, Winchell and Asmussen’s Costa Terra was a late-running third as the even-money favorite in the Ellis Park Juvenile. The chestnut, who appeared to run greenly, is eligible to improve with experience.