Expectations were rightfully high for Gun Runner’s 2-year-old colt Sierra Leone in his career debut at Aqueduct on Nov. 4. The $2.3 million graduate of the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale did not disappoint, graduating at first asking.
The Chad Brown trainee bobbled at the start under jockey Manuel Franco and settled off the pace in fifth early in the one-mile maiden special weight. He rallied strongly five-wide in the upper stretch, gained ground in the lane, and grabbed the lead outside the sixteenth pole en route to a 1 ¼-length victory over more experienced rivals. The impressive performance earned the debuting colt a TDN Rising Star designation.
Bought by White Birch Farm and M.V. Magnier at the Saratoga Sale, Sierra Leone is campaigned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, Rocket Ship Racing, and Peter Brant. Bred in Kentucky by Debby Oxley, Sierra Leone is the second foal produced from the Grade 1-winning Malibu Moon mare Heavenly Love. The mare is carrying a full sibling to Sierra Leone after being bred back to Gun Runner in 2023.