December 6, 2021

Gun Runner records final Fair Grounds work ahead of career finale in Pegasus World Cup

Gun Runner had his final work at Fair Grounds on Sunday, January 14, 2018, clocking six furlongs in 1:11 with Florent Geroux aboard for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) (c) Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography

Multiple Grade 1 winner and $8.9 million earner Gun Runner took to Fair Grounds’ fast main track for the last time on Sunday, breezing six furlongs in 1:11 to ready for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on January 27 at Gulfstream Park.

The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Candy Ride had jockey Florent Geroux aboard and worked in company with Gettysburg, starting off behind his regular workmate before drawing even rounding the turn and pulling away in the stretch.

Gun Runner recorded splits of :12:30, :24.20, :36.10, :48.10 and :59.20, galloping out seven furlongs in 1:23.40 and a mile in 1:37. He is scheduled to depart New Orleans and fly to Florida on Thursday.

David Fiske, the racing and bloodstock manager for co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds, saw the work via live video in Kentucky.

“That was great,” Fiske said. “That was kind of a typical two-weeks-before-the-race Asmussen work. Usually that’s a big work, kind of sharpen them up. He’ll get another easy half-mile when he gets to Gulfstream, probably next Monday or something. But man, he looked pretty sharp to me.”

Gun Runner is the presumptive 2017 Horse of the Year after compiling a 6-5-1-0 record last season that included four straight Grade 1 victories in the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Stakes, Woodward Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. The chestnut kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a 5 3/4-length score in the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn last February and suffered his only loss of the year when second in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) next out.

Gun Runner is scheduled to make both his five-year-old debut and career finale in the Pegasus World Cup before heading off to stud at co-owner Three Chimneys’ Versailles, Kentucky, farm.

Pegasus contender and champion Stellar Wind was caught breezing a bullet five furlongs over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday in 1:00.60.

“She worked a very strong five-eighths and galloped out a very strong three-quarters. She seems to be doing very, very well,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Each week her breezes get a little bit stronger. She hasn’t missed a beat since she’s been in the barn.”

Conditioned by John Sadler throughout her 16-race career, the Curlin mare was scheduled to make her final start in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) last November 3. She finished eighth that day at Del Mar and passed through the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, where Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier purchased her for $6 million as a broodmare prospect.

However, plans changed and the operation put Stellar Wind back in training, but with Brown instead of Sadler.

“She’s all class. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We’re just trying to keep her happy and she’s been a real sound horse since arriving,” Brown said. “She was obviously well taken care of her whole career. She’s been just a real pleasure to have in the barn. She’s a terrific addition to our stable.”

Stellar Wind will be making her first start against the boys and her six-year-old debut in the Pegasus. The Virginia-bred mare racked up a 16-10-2-1 career mark, of which six are Grade 1 scores, and more than $2.2 million in earnings while running against the likes of four-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder and multiple champion Songbird.

“We’re excited about her chances in the Pegasus,” Brown said. “It’s a tall order. It’s a tough, tough race, but she couldn’t be doing any better.”

Also working on Sunday for the Pegasus World Cup was the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast, who clocked a bullet three-quarters from the gate in 1:12 over Santa Anita Park’s fast main track.

The Flatter colt had Drayden Van Dyke aboard for the move and worked in company with Cat Burglar, who logged the same distance from the gate in 1:12.20.

“He worked well,” Baffert said. “I’m happy about it. He needed company, because he’s sort of a lazy work horse.

“He’ll breeze here one more time next week, then ship to Florida on January 24.”

West Coast is lightly raced, with his four-year-old bow in the Pegasus counting as only his 10th career start. The Kentucky-bred bay captured five straight contests as a sophomore, including the Travers Stakes (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1), before concluding 2017 with a third-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.