It is a Thoroughbred breeding truism that the more foals in a stallion’s first crop, the more runners he may have to attract mares to his future courts. Nonetheless, sometimes a horse breaks through against the odds. Such is the case with Bridlewood Farm’s Tunwoo. From just 11 foals of racing age in his first crop, Tunwoo has four winners including Time Passage, a winner of two stakes and $348,905. That same tiny crop racked up some good figures at the 2-year-olds in training sales, averaging $90,000 for four head sold.

Tunwoo himself seemed destined for racing success before fate intervened. A $775,000 RNA from the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, Tunwoo was sent to Bob Baffert’s barn to race as a homebred for Charles Chu’s Baoma Corp. (which he owns with his wife, Susan). After three bullet works, the colt debuted in a maiden special weight at Los Alamitos on June 30, 2018, finishing a game third after hopping at the break. Unfortunately, that was his only race.

On paper, Tunwoo had the potential to be something special. He is by Medaglia d’Oro, winner of the 2002 Travers (Grade 1) and 2003 Whitney (G1). He was second in six other Grade 1 races, including two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the 2002 Belmont Stakes and the 2003 Dubai World Cup.

At stud, Medaglia d’Oro has sired 176 stakes winners including 2006 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, 2018 Canadian Horse of the Year Wonder Gadot and two-time American champion filly Songbird. Medaglia d’Oro is also the sire of two-time grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro, the leading American freshman sire of 2022 and currently a leading third-crop sire who commands a $60,000 stud fee.

Tunwoo is bred on the same Medaglia d’Oro/A.P. Indy cross as Bolt d’Oro. His dam is the winning A.P. Indy mare Sea Gift, making him a full brother to 2021 Santa Ysabel (G3)-winner Beautiful Gift and a half brother to 2014 Sunland Park Derby (G3) winner Chitu (by Henny Hughes). The second dam of Tunwoo, Ocean Queen (by 1989 English champion 3-year-old male Zilzal) won the 1996 Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Derby (G3) and is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Dance Parade (by Gone West) and stakes winner Jig (by Catrail).

“Tunwoo is a big, beautiful, strapping horse, over 16.3 hands, who is very correct and stands over a lot of ground,” Bridlewood Farm’s George Isaacs said. “He’s been bred to an extremely small group of mares and has still come up with a real runner. The Chus think he could have been a great horse, and they’re backing him. They’ve got seven foals by him arriving this spring, and they’re breeding nine mares to him in 2024. You can’t ask for more of a show of faith than that.”

Return to the April 8 issue of Wire to Wire