Breeders’ Cup: Gun Runner goes wire to wire to take Classic
By Art Wilson
DEL MAR — There’s no debate. The case is closed. Gun Runner is the best older horse in America.
The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride capped an exceptional 2017 campaign Saturday with an exclamation mark, rolling to a 2-1/4-length victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar that most assuredly will result in the colt being named Horse of the Year in January.
Gun Runner took the lead right out of the gate, set fast fractions of 22.50, 46.31 and 1:10.50 for the mile and a quarter and then staved off a challenge at the head of the stretch by Collected to win his fourth consecutive Grade I race on the heels of victories in the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Stakes and Woodward.
It didn’t matter that early speed was not faring well on the main track Saturday. Gun Runner’s handlers were confident they had the best horse, choosing to have jockey Florent Geroux break smartly and play catch me if you can.
“We watched the (earlier) races,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said. “But we let Gun Runner be who he is. You witnessed why we feel the way we do about Gun Runner.”
After a nice 3-year-old campaign that ended with Gun Runner winning the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November, he turned into a monster at 4. As Asmussen says, he’s bigger, stronger and faster than at any time in his career.
“I think he’s better today than he’s ever been, and that’s been the plan all year,” Asmussen said.
It was the sixth Breeders’ Cup victory for Asmussen and his second in the Classic following Curlin’s win at Monmouth Park in 2007. It was Geroux’s fourth Breeders’ Cup victory and first in the Classic.
“This means a lot,” Geroux said. “It’s the biggest win of my career. It’s […]