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HENDERSON, KY – The 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner sired his sixth winner in his first crop of 2-year-olds as Winchell Thoroughbreds’ first-time starter Costa Terra beat Buckingham Prince by a nose in Thursday’s sixth race at Ellis Park.
And there’s a very chance that Costa Terra’s next start will be in the $125,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Juvenile on August 15. That’s a race Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won in 2016 with eventual Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee, in 2018 with Tobacco Road, and in 2019 with Rowdy Yates.
Costa Terra, a chestnut like his sire, is the third baby out of the Winchell mare Teardrop, whose first foal was the stakes winner Pneumatic. Teardrop, herself a half-sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Pyro, is a daughter of super-sire Tapit, campaigned by the Winchell family. The broodmare hails from a wildly successful female family that has produced graded stakes winners Wild Wonder, Olympio, Call Now, Cuvee, and other top horses for the Winchells.
“Obviously I’m extremely excited about him getting up and winning with a Gun Runner out of a great family of the Winchells,” said Asmussen, who trained Gun Runner. “I think the sky’s the limit for this colt. It’s quite obvious that the farther he goes, the better he’ll be.”
With Francisco Arrieta aboard, Costa Terra was awfully good going 5/8 of a mile in the slop in 57.41 seconds, less than a second off the 5-year-old Hoho Tow’s 56.46 set in 2006.
In fourth early in the field of six, Costa Terra wore down the front-running second-time starter Buckingham Prince to win on the final stride. It was 6 1/2 lengths back to the rest of the field.
Asmussen termed it “most likely” that Costa Terra will point for the 7-furlong RUNHAPPY Juvenile.
“I think it’s very good that this colt won now, and we can be patient with him and let him fill out the frame that he has,” he said.
Gun Runner won 12 of 19 starts, earning $15,988,500 before retiring to a stallion career at Three Chimneys Farm, which campaigned the horse with Ron Winchell, co-owner and co-managing partner of Kentucky Downs.
Costa Terra is the fourth Gun Runner offspring to win for Asmussen and Winchell, the others being Wicked Halo (who won her debut at Texas’ Lone Star Park and then was third in last Saturday’s Debutante at Churchill Downs), Red Run, and Gunite.
“Everything about them gives us the impression that the farther they go and the older they get, the better they’ll be,” Asmussen said. “That’s what’s so exciting. Gun Runner was an excellent 2-year-old, an extremely good 3-year-old and an unbeatable 4-year-old.”
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