May 22, 2019

Gun Runner clocks five furlongs ahead of Pegasus World Cup

Gun Runner breezes four furlongs in :51.40 with exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard on December 3, 2017, at Fair Grounds (c) Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and presumption 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner breezed five furlongs over the fast main track at Fair Grounds on Sunday as he continues preparations for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on January 27 at Gulfstream Park.

With exercise rider Angel Garcia in the irons, Gun Runner clocked five-eighths in 1:02.40 in his second move since taking the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths on November 4. Last Sunday he breezed a half-mile in :51.40 at Fair Grounds.

“It was pretty on par, on schedule, working backward every Sunday morning from the Pegasus,” said David Fiske, co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds’ long-time racing and bloodstock manager.

Fiske wasn’t present for Gun Runner’s move, but reviewed video of the work.

“Nothing exciting, just gradually getting him ramped up,” Fiske said, before going on to reference trainer Steve Asmussen’s normal work pattern ahead of a major contest. “They’ll gradually get longer and more serious. He’ll get with company three or four works out, gradually get faster and farther. We’ll just keep turning the dial up.”

Gun Runner is currently riding a four-race Grade 1 win streak and brings an 18-11-3-2, $8,988,500 lifetime record into the Pegasus World Cup. He’s scheduled to cap off his career in the race before heading to stud at co-owner Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Kentucky.

With the upcoming retirement, Fiske explained that the ownership has been restructured as a syndicate. Three Chimneys and Winchell Thoroughbreds each own half the shares, and could even sell some of their shares, though Fiske finds that doubtful.

“I don’t think anybody wants to at the moment. It’s just a contingency that if we ever want to, we’ve got that flexibility,” he said.

It’s familiar territory for co-owner Ron Winchell of Winchell Thoroughbreds. He is part of a similar situation in regards to his half-ownership of Tapit, who was campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds. That leading sire stands at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Kentucky, for a $300,000 stud fee.

“Early on in Tapit’s career, there were some (shares) that changed hands for what we thought were undervalued,” Fiske explained. “We’re obviously proud of the horse. So we’d buy one and sell one for more money a year or two later. But we still have 22 shares, which is exactly half.”

Gun Runner’s stud fee will be $70,000 for 2018 and individual breeding seasons are already being sold for the 2018 stand that begins in mid-February.

“The seasons are flying off the shelf, as far as I can tell,” Fiske said. “They keep sending me over mares that have been submitted. I mean, I get five or six of those a day to look at.”