‘Costa Terra’, a 2-year-old trained by Asmussen, breaks the girl at Ellis Park on Thursday
HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) – The 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner sired his sixth winner in his first generation of 2-year-olds as the first runner from Winchell Thoroughbreds Costa Terra beat Buckingham Prince by a nose in the sixth Thursday race at Ellis Park.
And there’s a good chance Costa Terra’s next start will be in the $ 125,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Juvenile on August 15th. It’s a race Hall of Fame coach Steve Asmussen won in 2016 with eventual Kentucky Derby Finalist Lookin At Lee, in 2018 with Tobacco Road and in 2019 with Rowdy Yates.
Ron Winchell, co-owner and co-manager of Kentucky Downs, campaigned for Gun Runner in partnership with Three Chimneys Farm, which holds the horse at stud.
Costa Terra, a chestnut like his sire, is the third baby of the mare Winchell Teardrop, whose first foal was the winner of the Pneumatic bet. Teardrop, herself a half-sister to millionaire first-year winner Pyro, is a daughter of superfather Tapit, whom the Winchell family campaigned for. The mare comes from a wildly successful family of females who have produced ranked award winners Wild Wonder, Olympio, Call Now, Cuvee and other top horses for the Winchells.
“Obviously I’m extremely excited to have him stand up and win with a Gun Runner from a big Winchell family,” said Asmussen, who trained Gun Runner. “I think the sky is the limit for this colt. It is quite obvious that the further he goes, the better he will be.
With Francisco Arrieta on board, Costa Terra was terribly good at five-eighths of a mile down the hill in 57.41 seconds, less than a second off the 56.46 from Hoho Tow, 5, established in 2006. Costa Terra has exhausted Buckingham Prince, the second starter in the lead, to win in the last stride. It was 6 1/2 lengths back to the rest of the field.
Asmussen called it “very likely” that Costa Terra would point to the seven-stadium RUNHAPPY Juvenile. “I think it’s great that this colt has won now, and we can be patient with him and let him fill the frame 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 with Ron Winchell.
Costa Terra is the fourth Gun Runner offspring to win for Asmussen and Winchell, the others being Wicked Halo (who won his debut at Texas’s Lone Star Park and then finished third in last Saturday’s Debutante at Churchill Downs), Red Run and Gunite.
“Everything about them makes us feel like the further they go and the older they get, the better off they will be,” Asmussen said. “This is what is so exciting. Gun Runner was an excellent 2 year old, a very good 3 year old and an unbeatable 4 year old.
Asmussen and Arrieta teamed up to win the previous race by an even tighter margin: Reinecke, Mike Rutherford’s 3-year-old American filly, Pharoah, won her debut in a tie with Sweet Carolena, coached by Mark Casse.
Racetrack investment pays off after two days of rain
The Ellis Park turf races for Thursday weren’t on the grass after two days of heavy rain, but the race went on the sloppy main track without a hitch. This would not necessarily have been the case in recent years with so much precipitation.
“We’ve done a lot of work (on the track) this year,” Ellis Park general manager Jeff Inman said ahead of the first race. “One of the things we did was clean the drains so that our dirt road would drain properly. But the next thing we did was get a really smooth GPS unit, and it actually levels the dirt track like a one inch variance. We were therefore able to arrange the dirt road so that it drains properly. In years past, we would have closed on a day like today. But today we at least remain open to dirt, and it’s thanks to this work. So for me it is money well spent.
Courtesy: Ellis Park Racing Advertisement
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