February 24, 2024

Gun Runner turns in maintenance move for Stephen Foster

Gun Runner will be a strong favorite to earn his second Grade 1 in the Stephen Foster (Coady Photography)

Grade 1 winner and Dubai World Cup (G1) runner-up Gun Runner turned in his final workout for Saturday’s Stephen Foster H. (G1) Monday morning at Churchill Downs, breezing four furlongs in :49.40 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“He’s just an impressive horse,” Asmussen said. “He had all of his serious work the last two weeks. Today was just an easy maintenance breeze.”

With exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard, Gun Runner set fractions of :13 and :24.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:03.40.

“We’re very excited to run him Saturday night,” Asmussen said. “We gave him a break after he ran in Dubai and he’s been training smoothly ever since.”

Florent Geroux will be aboard Gun Runner, who will carry top weight of 124 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Foster.

“Flo has a great level of confidence riding him,” Asmussen said. “He’ll do whatever is best for Gun Runner in the race, regardless of who is on the early pace.”

The field for the Stephen Foster is also expected to include Alysheba (G2) winner Bird Song; New Orleans H. (G2) hero and Alysheba runner-up Honorable Duty; Breaking Lucky, second to Gun Runner in the Clark H. (G1) last November; Grade 2 winner Stanford and Grade 3 scorer Mo Tom.

The Foster highlight Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program, which features 11 races. All five graded stakes races will be connected in a Pick 5 wager. Among the probables for the other four graded stakes are:

$200,000 Fleur de Lis H. (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles: Big World, Romantic Vision, Walkabout, Carrumba, Weep No More, Divine Elegance.

$200,000 Wise Dan (G2) for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf: Pleuven, Bondurant, Thatcher Street, and Conquest Panthera.

$100,000 Matt Winn (G3) for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles: McCraken, Aquamarine, Excitations and Society Beau. Watch Me Whip is possible.

$100,000 Regret (G3) for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on grass: Sweeping Paddy, Proctor’s Ledge, Anothertequilashot, Chubby Star, Fizzy Friday, La Manta Gris, Like a Hurricane, Sameeha and Savannah Belle.

Television coverage of Foster night will be provided by NBC Sports Network from 8:30-10 p.m. (EDT).