All in the Family: Gunning in Skipat, Mage in Preakness

May 17, 2023

Gunning (outside) was second to Coastal Charm #2 in the Dig a Diamond at Oaklawn April 29 (Coady Photography)

Mage’s Big Sister Gunning Heads $100K Skipat on Preakness Card

Robert Clay’s Grandview Equine Bred Gunning and Kentucky Derby Winner

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

BALTIMORE— On the afternoon that Mage will attempt to stay on course for the Triple Crown in 148th Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, trainer Kenny McPeek will send out the Kentucky Derby winner’s 4-year-old half-sister Gunning in the $100,000 Skipat Stakes on Saturday’s undercard at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Robert Clay’s Grandview Equine campaigns Gunning and bred both that filly and Mage. Clay long has been a titan in horse racing. In 1972, he founded Three Chimneys Farm, where 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew once stood in stud, ultimately selling the farm in 2013 to Goncalo Borges-Torrealba. Five years later, Clay created Grandview Equine, serving as general partner and manager. That same year, he paid $475,000 at auction for the mare Puca in foal to Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year in his first year at stud. Gunning was the result. Puca was bred back to another new sire, Good Magic, producing Mage.

McPeek was concentrating on his own horse, Sun Thunder, in the Derby. Sun Thunder finished 11th, but McPeek realized he was a winner of sorts even in defeat as soon as Mage hit the wire.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I got the sister!’” he said. “Robert Clay, who bred Mage, bred and owns the filly too. Their intention all along was to keep the mare. They are over the moon about it. Robert Clay has put a lot into this business. He’s well-deserving.

“Gunning has been running well all winter. She was just second in a stakes at Oaklawn. She’s worth a lot of money as a mare.… We knew she was sitting on the cusp of some things, or at least the family was. We’d like to win a stakes with her, win the Skipat and then come to Churchill for the Chicago in late June.”

Gunning comes into the six-furlong Skipat with a 3-2-1 mark in seven career starts. She most recently finished second in Oaklawn’s Dig A Diamond Stakes. 

First post for Saturday’s 14-race card is 10:30 a.m. ET, with the Skipat carded as the ninth race and the Preakness set to go off at 7:01 p.m. as the 13th race.

A field of 10 fillies and mares was entered in the 30th running of the Skipat.

The horse to beat could be the Maryland-bred 11-time winner Princess Kokachin, who captured Laurel’s Primonetta Stakes in her last start by a half-length over the Timothy Hills-trainee and Skipat entrant Oxana. John Robb, Princess Kokachin’s trainer, also is sending out Primonetta third-place finisher Street Lute. Jevian Toledo rides Princess Kokachin for the second straight race, while Xavier Perez rides Street Lute, also a Maryland-bred.

Princess Kokachin on her way to winning the Primonetta at Laurel Park April 29 (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)

Princess Kokachin figures to be part of a swift pace that could include the Michael Trombetta-trained Golden Effect, the stakes-winning Edie Meeny Miny Mo (a Maryland-bred trained by Michelle Hemingway, with Luis Saez getting the mount), I’m the Boss of Me (Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for trainer Greg Compton) and Olivia Darling (Jose Ortiz picking up the mount for trainer Jorge Delgado). Golden Effect, with Angel Cruz back aboard will attempt to continue her rise from claiming races, to allowance company and now to a stakes.

Cheetara, a Grade 2 winner in her native Chile, seeks to win her third stakes in America for trainer Ignacio Correas IV. French-born Vincent Cheminaud has the mount.

The stakes-placed Beguine was supplemented into the Skipat as she makes her first start as a 4-year-old. Trainer Ned Allard gains the services of 2023 Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Javier Castellano.

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