Pegasus World Cup (G1) favorite Gun Runner completed his preparations for Saturday’s $16 million event with a solo spin over the Gulfstream Park track Monday morning, the final work of his stellar career.
Sure to be awarded Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male honors at Thursday night’s Eclipse Awards, the Steve Asmussen trainee was given the perk of breezing on a closed track.
Having the circuit all to himself (and his pony escort), Gun Runner stepped out at 7:30 a.m. (EST) with exercise rider Angel Garcia. He broke off from the half-mile pole, worked the four furlongs to the wire in :48.96, and polished off five in the gallop-out in 1:02.11.
“I loved how he did it,” Asmussen’s chief assistant, Scott Blasi, said. “Angel was really happy with him and said, ‘I never asked him to do anything.’”
Monday’s move, although more of a maintenance exercise, took on added significance as Gun Runner’s lone timed work over the Gulfstream surface. The son of Candy Ride had been limbering up at his winter base at Fair Grounds, where he turned in three strong six-furlong drills before flying to Gulfstream last Thursday. Gun Runner, never one to have to bring his racetrack with him, has taken to the Hallandale Beach surface.
“That’s just kind of Gun Runner,” Blasi said of his deceptively easy way of going. “He just does stuff so effortlessly. You think that he’s not going anywhere, then you look down at your watch and you’re like ‘Wow.’ Especially this year he has gotten stronger and faster. There’s just a lot more to him. We couldn’t be happier with him.
“He’s just been really special to us and he continues to do exactly what you want him to do. It’s kind of unheard of over a three-year career. I’m just really happy with how he got over the ground. He’s cooling out great and is ready for Saturday.”
Gun Runner, set to join the stallion roster at co-owner Three Chimneys Farm for the upcoming breeding season, will try to go out on a high note in the Pegasus. Sporting a four-race winning streak, all in Grade 1s, the five-year-old was last seen landing the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.
Video courtesy of Gulfstream Park