So far so good for newly crowned Horse of the Year Gun Runner as he makes an accelerated transition from elite racehorse to commercial stallion.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's burnished son of Candy Ride arrived at Three Chimneys, near Midway, Ky., Jan. 28 after winning the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 27 and immediately settled in, according to stallion manager Sandy Hatfield. He is occupying the same stall he stayed in back in November, when he was shown to breeders for several days after winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).
"He has handled his first day here beautifully," Hatfield said. "He ate his dinner, ate breakfast this morning, and when he got out in his paddock, he bucked and kicked and ran around, then dropped his head and ate grass. We'll do that again tomorrow and then introduce him to some test mares on Wednesday or Thursday."
Hatfield said Gun Runner is so intelligent and easy-going that she does not anticipate any issues with his transition to breeding. While a majority of stallions have several weeks, if not a couple of months to make this transition, Hatfield noted that Gun Runner has already shown the ability to handle extensive traveling and new surroundings.
Taylor Made Stallions broke ground with retiring a stallion to stud in late January with California Chrome , who contested the inaugural Pegasus World Cup last year. The same traits being attributed to Gun Runner—intelligence, flexibility, and a willingness to please—all contributed to a smooth transition for California Chrome.
The transition, so far, has gone smoothly as well for the people who have been dedicated to nurturing Gun Runner's racing career.
"It was so helpful that (Gun Runner) was here in November. Not only for the breeders to see him, but for the two different teams to meet each other," Hatfield said. "(Trainer) Steve (Asmussen) said usually they take care of these horses for two or three years and make every decision about every minute of their day, and then one day they get on a van and go someplace where you don't know who is going to take care of them. He said it was nice that they could come here and see where he was going to be and to meet everyone. He said it meant a lot to them.
"And it was good for us to get to know Gun Runner a little bit, because we don't have much time to get him transitioned. But again, he is such a smart horse. He is always looking for the next thing."
Gun Runner, who will stand the 2018 season for $70,000, will be in a barn by himself for a couple weeks as part of Three Chimneys' biosecurity protocol, and then will be moved into a barn with other horses.
Already, Hatfield said, he is showing interest in the mares.
"We have some older mares that we will bring in who are well-versed in this kind of work," she said. "He is already acting interested and is talking smack to the other boys. He is letting them know he's here."