After punctuating a nearly flawless 2017 season with a convincing victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Gun Runner was named Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male at Thursday evening’s Eclipse Award ceremonies at Gulfstream Park.
|HORSE OF THE YEAR
|OLDER DIRT MALE
The powerful chestnut still has one engagement left, Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream, before heading to stud at Three Chimneys Farm, who co-owned the son of Candy Ride with Winchell Thoroughbreds. Gun Runner will leave the Pegasus starting gate as the odds-on favorite among 12 rivals after dominating five-of-six starts last year.
Under the direction Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner concluded his sophomore campaign with an initial Grade 1 tally, the 2016 Clark H. at Churchill Downs, and he proceeded to step forward significantly at age 4.
Based in New Orleans over the winter, Gun Runner was targeting the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup but connections opted to skip extra testing protocols implemented after an EHV-1 outbreak at Fair Grounds. He was redirected to the February 20 Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park and made short work of the competition posting a 5 ¾-length decision.
Gun Runner headed overseas for the Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March but could not withstand champion Arrogate’s late rally in finishing a clear second. That marked Gun Runner’s lone setback of 2017 and he returned from a near three-month freshening to launch a four-race win streak, rolling to a seven-length triumph in the June 17 Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill Downs.
With regular rider Florent Geroux, Gun Runner continued to gather steam recording a dynamic 5 ¼-length victory in the August 5 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. He came back four weeks later over the same surface to thrash foes by a 10 ¼-length margin in the Woodward (G1), his final tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4.
Racing over a Del Mar track that wasn’t playing kindly to early speed, Gun Runner took it right his rivals from the start of the 1 ¼-mile test and led wire-to-wire scoring by 2 ¼ lengths in the Classic (G1).
He earned more than $6.9 million in 2017, boosting his career bankroll to $8,988,500 from an 18-11-3-2 record, and was never worse than third on a fast track.
Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Gun Runner hails from a classy female family. He’s the first foal out of the Grade 2-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, who counts 2005 Horse of the Year and champion older male Saint Liam as a half-brother. They hail from stakes winner and Grade 2 runner-up Quiet Dance, a daughter of Quiet American who produced a total of four stakes winners as well as the dam of a Grade 1 winner.
Gun Runner registered outstanding BRIS Speed ratings of 114 and 113 in his last two starts.