Mr Gun Smoke. * Photo by Don Trout.

In The Blood: Americasnexttopgun and his ties to Mr Gun Smoke 

When Americasnexttopgun entered the winners circle for the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Level 4 Open Derby he brought a familiar face – or should we say facial markings – with him. That is, the large broad blaze that is a characteristic pattern of the “splash” gene. The splash gene is a white spotting pattern that results in not only the large broad blaze, but also extended white markings on the legs, variable white spotting on the belly, and blue eyes. The industry attributes a primary source of this splash gene to the legendary Mr Gun Smoke. 

So, let’s look at the tie between Americasnexttopgun, a horse among the possible contenders for the Million Dollar Competition at next week’s The Run For A Million, and Mr Gun Smoke as it pertains to the splash gene and some other genetic factors that allowed Mr Gun Smoke to be an important sire.


In June, Casey Deary and Americasnexttopgun scored 223.5 to win the Derby title. They won $75,000 for owners Jody and Jolan Puno, which brought their total earnings to $348,008. They had previously won the 2020 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 4 Championship and earlier this year were the NRBC Level 4 Open Co-Reserve Champions.

Americasnexttopgun & Casey Deary. • Photo by Waltenberry.

Americasnexttopgun was bred by Arcese Quarter Horses of Weatherford, Texas. He is sired by EquiStat Elite $4 Million Sire Walla Walla Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Shiney Walla Wanda x Shining Spark), the 2007 NRHA Open Derby Champion.
Americasnextgunmodel (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Cee Dun It Do It x Hollywood Dun it) is the dam of Americasnexttopgun and before that she was the 2011 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Champion. 

It’s a cross that has worked more than once, as Americas Supermodel – a full sister to Americasnexttopgun – has earned $236,981 and was the 2020 NRBC Level 4 Open Derby Reserve Champion and the 2018 All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity Champion. To date, foals out of Americasnextgunmodel have earned more than $818,057.

The “Gun” in Gunner

Colonels Smoking Gun, or “Gunner” as he is affectionally called, is the broodmare sire of Americasnexttopgun. Gunner is the most visible carrier of the splash gene in the reining industry, doing so in both the show pen and the breeding barn.

This great reining horse earned $177,670 with an NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Championship and a 2001 USET Reining Championship on his resume. He is now the all-time leading sire of reining money earners in EquiStat with more $14 million in earnings and also is a leading broodmare sire.

Gunner’s tie to Mr Gun Smoke is on his mother’s side of the family. A son of Colonelfourfreckle, Gunner is out of Katie Gun (John Gun x Bueno Katie x Aledo Bueno Bar). John Gun is the tie to Mr Gun Smoke for Gunner, as his sire is One Gun (Mr Gun Smoke x Miss Seventy One x King Command). This means that Mr Gun Smoke is in the fourth generation of Gunner and that introduces us to the mode of inheritance that allows the Mr Gun Smoke splash gene to manifest itself in the pedigree of Americasnexttopgun. The splash gene is an autosomal dominant gene. That tells us that when this gene is present, it will express itself and we can see the splash gene pattern is dominant over the other gene at that position or the normal/unaffected gene on the chromosome.

On the other side an autosomal recessive gene is expressed when the sire and dam carry the same gene and they pass that recessive gene on to their offspring. This means the recessive trait is expressed only when the individual produced has a double copy of that gene making them homozygous for that gene. This means they carry the same code for that trait at that position on the chromosome.   

We also see that the tie to Mr Gun Smoke in the pedigree of Gunner comes from his dam. When we look at the pedigree of Americasnexttopgun, his dam Americasnextgunmodel, is sired by Colonel Smoking Gun. So, it really doesn’t matter what side of the pedigree or the position Mr Gun Smoke appears on as the splash gene can be passed down generation after generation – and when it is present it will express itself. 

Mr Gun Smoke

Mr Gun Smoke was a unique individual that possessed great quickness and power that made him a courageous horse. But it was hard to control that power, quickness and courage. It was trainer Dale Wilkinson who guided that power and quickness that would earn a Superior in AQHA cutting with 71 performance points. He was an NCHA Certificate of Ability winner earning $8,476. 

Mr Gun Smoke

This is what Dale Wilkinson said about the intensity of Mr Gun Smoke, “I have always thought that Oklahoma Star might be the dominant factor in Mr Gun Smoke. He had so much courage. He never saw a stud he didn’t think he could whip, and he never saw a cow he couldn’t head. He was a very courageous horse.”  

Wilkinson went on to explain that Mr Gun Smoke got his grit from Oklahoma Star as the Leos were more laid back as a bloodline. He also noted that as you moved away from Mr Gun Smoke in the pedigree that his descendants were outstanding performers but more manageable.

A look at the pedigree of Mr Gun Smoke will give us some insight to where that power and quickness came from and the courage this horse had as a performer.  

Mr Gun Smoke was sired by Rondo Leo, an AQHA Champion son of Leo’s Question with points in halter, cutting and reining. Leo’s Question was sired by Leo, who was sired by Joe Reed II and out of Little Fanny. Joe Reed II and Little Fanny were sired by Joe Reed P-3, giving Leo a breeding pattern of 2 x 2 to Joe Reed P-3. This is a great example of inbreeding. There also is a significant dose of Oklahoma Star P-6 in Rondo Leo’s pedigree. The dam of Rondo Leo, War Bird, was sired by War Star – a stallion by Oklahoma Star Jr, who was a son of Oklahoma Star P-6. The maternal granddam of Rondo Leo, Star Bird, also was sired by Oklahoma Star P-6

The pedigree of Mr Gun Smoke’s mother, Kansas Cindy, brings in more Oklahoma Star P-6 breeding into the mix. Her sire, Kansas Star was sired by Nowata Star (by Oklahoma Star P-6) and Kansas Star’s mother, Star Jean, was a daughter of Oklahoma Star P-6. This gives Mr Gun Smoke a breeding pattern of 5 x 4 x 4 x 4 to Oklahoma Star P-6. 

The Pattern

So, as we look back on Mr Gun Smoke we see that he was produced from the inbreeding found in Leo outcrossed with the linebreeding to Oklahoma Star P-6. This breeding pattern produced the hybrid vigor that contributed to his being a unique individual as a performer and how that contributed to his success as a sire. A sire that was rewarded for his success by being named a member of the NRHA Hall of Fame, NRCHA Hall of Fame and the AQHA Hall of Fame. 

So now when you see the expression of the splash gene in a Mr Gun Smoke descendants you understand the role his pedigree played in his influence as a sire not only for the colorful pattern but their outstanding performance capabilities.