The rich get richer, and the Gun Runners get more victories. Or something to that effect.
Gun Runner (by Candy Ride) had his third Grade 1 winner on April 2 when Cyberknife won the Arkansas Derby. It was the winner’s first stakes, his third victory from six starts.
Cyberknife has been maturing steadily since his debut on Sept. 25 last year. He finished first in that race, but was disqualified to second for interference in that maiden special, then finished second in another on Nov. 5. The colt won his maiden on the day after Christmas and kept it.
Starting as the third choice on Jan. 22 at the Fair Grounds, Cyberknife finished sixth in the G3 Lecompte Stakes that Call Me Midnight (Midnight Lute) won by a head from Epicenter (Not This Time). Then on Feb. 19, the son of Gun Runner won a Fair Grounds allowance by three lengths in 1:42.53 for 8 1/2 furlongs.
The Arkansas Derby was the colt’s next race.
Bred in Kentucky by Kenneth L. Ramsey and Sarah K. Ramsey and sold for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale of 2020, Cyberknife is out of the Flower Alley mare Awesome Flower. The dam won 11 races out of 33 starts from three to six, including a half-dozen stakes, and was placed second in the G3 Sixty Sails and third in the G2 Chilukki Stakes. She earned $556,593.
Sold to Arnold Heft for $45,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Eastern September yearling sale, Awesome Flower was a $30,000 claim for the Ramseys on Dec. 28, 2012 at the end of her 3-year-old season. Off until April 5, 2013, when she was once again risked for $30,000 claiming, Awesome Flower improved and won four of her next six starts, including the Lady Canterbury Stakes on July 13.
Ten of the mare’s victories and nearly all her half-million in earnings came for the Ramseys and trainer Mike Maker.
That racing record made the chestnut mare one of the top dozen performers by her sire, the Distorted Humor horse Flower Alley.
A good-sized, strongly made son of leading sire Distorted Humor (Forty Niner), Flower Alley sold twice. He had been bred in Kentucky by George Brunacini and Bona Terra Farms, and Flower Alley went through the Paramount Sales consignment for $50,000 as a weanling at the 2002 Keeneland November sale, then returned to Keeneland the following year and sold for $165,000 to Eugene Melnyk. The colt went on to become one of the most successful racers for Melnyk’s stable, winning five races and earning more than $2.5 million.
As a 3-year-old, Flower Alley was at the top of his crop. He ran second in the 2005 Arkansas Derby, then was ninth in the Kentucky Derby, but later in the year Flower Alley won both the G2 Jim Dandy and the G1 Travers, then finished his year with a second in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic, beaten a length by Saint Liam (Saint Ballado).
Flower Alley came back at four, made four starts and was unplaced in three, winning only the G3 Salvator Handicap at Monmouth.
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Even so, the classically inclined son of leading sire Distorted Humor went to stud in 2007 at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., and sired a quartet of Grade 1 winners. Bullards Alley (Canadian International), Lukes Alley (Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap), and Lilacs and Lace (Ashland) were very good representatives for their sire, but the colt who put Flower Alley’s name in lights on the Las Vegas strip was I’ll Have Another.
Three times a winner at the Grade 1 level, I’ll Have Another was bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke, and the good-looking chestnut won the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. A winner in five of his seven starts, I’ll Have Another earned more than $2.6 million and was named champion 3-year-old colt of 2012. After being declared out of the Belmont Stakes and the potential for a Triple Crown, I’ ll Have Another was sold to stand at stud in Japan; he was sold and was returned to the States for the 2019 breeding season and stands at Ocean Breeze Ranch in California.
Just a few years earlier, Flower Alley had gone the other way. The stallion was sold to stand in South Africa at Wilgerbosdrift Stud for the 2015 breeding season, and he stands there for 80,000 rand (approximately $6,000) live foal.
None of those scenic locales are the destination of Gun Runner, the leading freshman sire of 2021 by a walloping $2 million over his nearest competitor and now the sire of 10 stakes winners. He remains a homebody at Three Chimneys Farm. The stallion’s first crop are now three, and his son Cyberknife will be among the well-regarded starters for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.