The most hyped 2019 Kentucky Derby contender in Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn is certainly the undefeated Instagrand, but in terms of accomplishments to date it’s hard to deny that Hollendorfer’s steadily-progressing Gunmetal Gray has surpassed his stablemate.
He might not have the flashiest pedigree, being by Exchange Rate out of the allowance-winning Include mare Classofsixtythree, but what his pedigree lacks in flash it makes up for with a couple doses of stamina giving the impression that Gunmetal Gray won’t have any trouble negotiating distances beyond a mile.
Certainly Gunmetal Gray’s performances so far have backed up that belief. Purchased for $225,000 as a two-year-old in training, the gray colt could only finish fifth in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Del Mar, but when he stretched out to a mile over the same track he looked like a different horse, powering to a 6 ¾-length victory with fast speed figures of 96 (BRIS) and 89 (Beyer).
Thereafter, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer chose to send Gunmetal Gray directly into graded stakes company, and the results have been promising. After finishing second behind probable two-year-old champion Game Winner in the American Pharoah Stakes (gr. I), Gunmetal Gray endured a somewhat difficult trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), but produced a gutsy rally to grind on and finish fifth.
Gunmetal Gray wasted no time resuming training after the Breeders’ Cup, posting eight timed workouts prior to his three-year-old debut in the January 5th Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. From a pace perspective, Gunmetal Gray received a beautiful setup—he trailed the field early on in a race where the opening half-mile went in :46.95 and the final half-mile in :52.01—so it’s hard to get too excited about his late-running one-length victory with a meager 82 Beyer.
But then again, we already know that Gunmetal Gray is capable of running faster, and favorable setup or not, he deserves credit for picking up the first graded stakes victory of his career. Perhaps Gunmetal Gray’s greatest asset is his consistency; he’s never run a bad race since stretching out around two turns, and if he continues to progress this winter, he might just find the extra speed he needs to compete against the most elite members of his foal crop.
Owned by the partnership of Hollendorfer, Pearl Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds, Gunmetal Gray has compiled a record of two wins and a second from five starts, with earnings $217,200—almost equal to his purchase price. Future plans for Gunmetal Gray have yet to be determined, though the February 2nd Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) is the next logical steppingstone along Santa Anita’s Road to the Kentucky Derby.