June 13, 2024

Gun Runner faces four in Woodward

Gun Runner winning the 2017 Whitney with a horseshoe in his tail (Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Gun Runner’s Breeders’ Cup Classic stature has risen in recent months following back-to-back losses by Arrogate and the 4-year-old colt can make a case for favoritism with another strong performance in Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. The imposing front-runner towers over four opponents in the 1 1/8-mile event.

An impressive winner of the Clark H. (G1) in his sophomore finale, Gun Runner opened 2017 with a 5 ¾-length thrashing in the Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park in mid-February. He shipped overseas a month later to record a commendable second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup (G1) but unlike his outstanding rival, Gun Runner has continued to go in the subsequent months.

The son of Candy Ride returned from a near three-month hiatus with sterling seven-length victory in the Stephen Foster H. (G1) at Churchill Downs, registering a 107 BRIS Speed rating, and paired up the same number rolling to a 5 ¼-length decision in the August 5 Whitney (G1) earlier in the Spa meet.

Regular rider Florent Geroux has the mount for Steve Asmussen and Gun Runner doesn’t appear to be facing much pace pressure from post 2. The Woodward represents his final prep for the $6 million Classic at Del Mar on November 4.

One of two runners for Todd Pletcher, Rally Cry enters on the upswing following an 8 ¾-length win in the August 6 Alydar that netted him a 109 BRIS Speed. The 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt figures to be racing up close from start with John Velazquez.

Nelolithic returned from a layoff with a game off-the-pace allowance tally on August 5 and the 4-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday gave a fine account of himself earlier this year posting non-threatening thirds in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup. The Pletcher trainee will look to challenge for another placing with new rider Jose Ortiz.

Brooklyn (G2) winner War Story is back for the Woodward after a dull fourth in the Whitney and multiple stakes-placed Discreet Lover will need a significant turnaround to factor.