Breeders’ Cup: Gun Runner the front-runner for $6 million Classic
By Art Wilson
DEL MAR — Some trainers spend an entire career without that one signature horse that brings them fame and fortune. Others, such as Steve Asmussen, are fortunate enough to have a handful come through their barn during their career.
Asmussen campaigned Curlin, two-time Horse of the Year (2007-08), and 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, one of the best fillies to ever look through a bridle. Now comes Gun Runner, the 9-5 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
Gun Runner, a virtual cinch to give Asmussen his fourth Horse of the Year if he beats a field that includes Bob Baffert’s four-headed monster of Arrogate, Collected, West Coast and Mubtaahij, couldn’t be going into the race any better. He has registered Grade I victories in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs and the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga since a runner-up effort behind Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup on March 25. He’s the best horse jockey Florent Geroux has ever ridden.
“He’s taken us to so many places, from the (Kentucky) Derby, to the Travers as a 3-year-old, to Dubai this year,” Geroux said. “With him, you always know he’s in with a chance. He always runs hard and tries, and we have been lucky enough to win many graded stakes along the way. He’s proven himself, and now he’s the favorite in the Classic.”
Whereas Curlin showed the most development between his 2- and 3-year-old seasons, Gun Runner has taken a huge step forward between his 3- and 4-year-old campaigns. He was a nice sophomore colt, but nothing like he’s turned into.
“He’s really matured very nicely,” said Geroux, who’s ridden Gun Runner in his past 14 races. “Sometimes they get better from 2 to 3 and then from 3 to 4, and he did. […]