Considering that second choice Mo Tom was beaten only a length and a half after having had to check sharply at the three-sixteenths pole (he came out of the race with a cut leg), Gun Runner may not have been the best horse in the race, at least not at this stage of his development. Nonetheless, he fits the profile of a colt making good progress at the right time of year, and his pedigree suggests we haven't seen the best of him yet. A son of the brilliant Candy Ride, a champion in Argentina at 3 and a Grade 1 winner in California at 4, he is out of 2011 Hill 'n' Dale Molly Pitcher Handicap (USA-G2) winner Quiet Giant, a Giant's Causeway half sister to 2005 American Horse of the Year Saint Liam and a member of the family of the great handicap mare Gallorette.
Gun Runner's pedigree is yet another example of the cross of Candy Ride to Storm Cat-line mares which has yielded four of the stallion's nine Grade 1 winners as well as two-time Peruvian champion miler Lolo Forever. The top example of this cross so far is the late Shared Belief, an Eclipse Award-winning champion at 2 and a five-time Grade 1 winner. In this case, the Storm Cat cross comes through Giant's Causeway, a top-class horse at up to 10 furlongs and a Grade 1 sire at distances up to 12 furlongs, so Gun Runner should not have the stamina limitations of Grade 1 winners Capt. Candyman Can or Evita Argentina, both of whom were out of mares by sprinting sons of Storm Cat.
According to trainer Tom Amoss, Mo Tom's injury was superficial, and the colt certainly showed that the form he displayed in winning the Lecomte Stakes (USA-G3) was no fluke; assuming that he's staying in Louisiana, he should be one of the favorites for the Louisiana Derby (USA-G2). As for Airoforce, his race was simply too bad to be true given the consistency he has previously shown and may indicate that his destiny lies on turf rather than dirt (or at least fast dirt).
Last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (USA-G2) is in fact turning out to be a pretty nice source of promising sophomores in 2016. Even though Airoforce didn't live up to his billing in the Risen Star, Mo Tom and Gun Runner were third and fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and second-place Mor Spirit won the Los Alamitos Futurity (USA-G1) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (USA-G3) in his next two starts.
Another line on the form of the Risen Star runners can be drawn through Destin, who exited a fourth-place finish in the Lecomte to take the Sam F. Davis Stakes (USA-G3) stakes at Tampa---ironically, a race that Airoforce was slated to run in but had to miss due to a minor illness. Right now, all of these colts would still have to improve considerably to be up to challenging Nyquist or Mohaymen, but at this point, this is looking like a solid group that should provide their owners with a lot of fun.