Early on in a horse's 3-year-old year is the time when a lot of developing and learning experiences take place. Many horses that appear quirky and green will eventually blossom into classy, talented top-level runners later in the year. In the case of royally bred Gun It, the connections acknowledge his idiosyncratic tendencies but have enough faith in his abilities to give him a shot in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La.
Based solely on pedigree, Gun It has star potential. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen and owned by Three Chimneys Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, the 3-year-old gray or roan son of Tapit is the first foal out of Grade 1-placed broodmare Miss Besilu and comes from the same family as 2017 Horse of the Year and six-time Grade 1 winner Gun Runner as well as 2005 Horse of the Year and four-time Grade 1 winner Saint Liam. Whisper Hill Farm purchased Gun It for a cool $2.6 million from the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency and was the second most expensive horse acquired from the auction.
In three career starts, Gun It has shown to be a talented but still immature young horse. However, the connections believe enough in the colt to give him a chance at a high level.
He draws into the race as an also eligible entrant after Kingly did not make the trip.
“Obviously with the outside post it won't be easy,” said Three Chimneys Farm vice chairman Doug Cauthen. “Basically we're following Steve's lead. He was happy with the horse's works and he felt like shipping him wasn't the thing to do at this stage. He still is immature mentally and he's developing but he's a May foal physically, so he's maturing that way, too. The thought is to keep him where we know he has run, race him out of his stall and hope we get a decent trip to at least give him a chance.”
Gun It won his second career start when breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds by 4 1/2 lengths under a hand ride. He ran third next out behind fellow Risen Star aspirants Owendale and Frolic More in a first level Fair Grounds allowance race. He has been a work in progress for the connections, but they acknowledge that noticeable development is taking place.
“Steve and (assistant trainer) Scott (Blasi) are seeing some maturing,” Cauthen said. “None of us wanted to force the issue of running in a spot like this. It was just based on how he's showing up in mornings. He's set enough to give you the hope that he could progressively mature and if it doesn't work out, at least we didn't ship across the country to find out. So we'll take our chances and hope for a little New Orleans luck.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. has been aboard all three of Gun It's career starts and will make the journey to Fair Grounds to pilot him once more.
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