Ranked as the world’s third-best racehorse, Gun Runner made short work of overmatched foes posting a seven-length tally in the June 17 Stephen Foster H. (G1) at Churchill Downs and the outstanding 4-year-old colt appears poised to keep rolling in Saturday’s $1.2 million Whitney (G1) at Saratoga.
Six rivals have been assembled to challenge the expected odds-on favorite.
A convincing scorer over elders when concluding his sophomore season in the Clark H. (G1) last November, Gun Runner has solidified his status as a top contender for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar on November 4 in a trio of appearances this year. The son of Candy Ride opened 2017 with 5 ¾-length romp in the Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn in mid-February and followed with an excellent second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup (G1) five weeks later.
Installed as a 4-5 morning line favorite in the Whitney, Gun Runner will seek his second straight victory in a “Win and You’re In” event for the Classic. Regular rider Florent Geroux has the call on the Steve Asmussen trainee and the chestnut is campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm.
Keen Ice will be making his first start at Saratoga since famously upsetting American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1). And while he dropped his next 10 outings, the 5-year-old horse will return on the upswing for Todd Pletcher after rallying to a three-length decision in the July 8 Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park. The son of Curlin registered a career-best 112 BRIS Speed Rating last time and the 3-1 second choice will keep Jose Ortiz in the saddle.
War Story cuts back in trip off a two-length score in the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn (G2) on June 10. That marked the first graded victory for the 5-year-old and War Story will be running late Saturday under Javier Castellano. Conditioned by Jorge Navarro, the Northern Afleet gelding is pegged at 6-1.
Loooch Racing Stables has entered Cautious Giant to assist War Story’s closing kick. Uncoupled despite being classified as a rabbit by his owner, the expected pacesetter is the 30-1 longest shot on the morning line.
Multiple Grade 1-placed Breaking Lucky exits a third in the Stephen Foster and just missed when recording a neck fourth in last year’s Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. He’s an early 8-1 along with Tu Brutus, who will attempt to rebound after faltering to third as the 1-2 Brooklyn favorite. Multiple stakes-placed Discreet Lover rounds out the field.