Gun Runner training at Churchill Downs before the 2016 Kentucky Derby – Coady Photography
Sunday morning at Santa Anita was a busy one, with several prominent Breeders’ Cup contenders turning in morning workouts. As on October 22nd, the track was a bit on the slow side, producing slower times than one might expect over the usually fast Santa Anita main track. After viewing videos of the workouts on XBTV.com, here are my thoughts on how the horses looked…
Ashleyluvssugar: This Breeders’ Cup Turf contender was out very early in the morning and couldn’t be clearly seen on the backstretch, but he appeared to be traveling easily under little urging in the homestretch while clocking five furlongs in a modest 1:02.20 and galloping-out another furlong at what appeared to be a respectable speed.
Gun Runner: Made a nice impression in his first workout at Santa Anita, working five furlongs on his own in 1:00.40 while getting the final three furlongs in about :36 2/5 on my watch. He seemed focused in the homestretch and had his ears pinned back while under a bit of urging from his rider, but he galloped-out nicely past the wire, getting a sixth furlong in :13 flat and a seventh in around :14 flat. (Note: While the official time was 1:00.40, timing the video indicates that the work may have been as much as a second slower, so this is something to keep in mind.)
Hunt and Metaboss: They worked six furlongs together on the training track located inside the turf course, and looked excellent doing so. Metaboss started about eight lengths clear of his stablemate, but Hunt closed significant ground down the backstretch and around the far turn and was less than a length behind turning for home while not being urged. Metaboss ended up crossing the wire about three-quarters of a length in front, but was under slightly more urging than Hunt, although both horses appeared to be running easily. Hunt’s time was 1:15 flat, while Metaboss was timed in 1:16.20.
Metaboss remained in front of Hunt during an impressive and lengthy gallop-out, again while under urging compared to Hunt, whose rider didn’t need to do much to keep him going. Overall, Hunt made a better impression, but it should be kept in mind that Metaboss has done his best running in long-distance turf races while Hunt is an accomplished sprinter, so it’s not surprising to see Hunt outwork Metaboss going six furlongs.
Union Strike: The possible favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies turned in a solid seven-furlong workout in company with her four-year-old stablemate The Strip. Union Strike started off a bit less than four lengths behind, moved closer down the backstretch, then lost some ground around the far turn and had to be urged a bit to close the gap again. Turning for home, it could be seen that The Strip’s right hind leg wrap was unraveling and trailing out behind her, forcing Union Strike to come wide into the homestretch to avoid trouble. Union Strike then drifted in slightly, but straightened out as her rider started to urge her more vigorously, possibly even using the whip at one point. Union Strike eventually drove past The Strip and crossed the wire a length in front while stopping the clock in 1:27.80, but had her ears back before raising them on an easy gallop-out.
Vyjack: In what appeared to be a maintenance workout, Vyjack cruised around the Santa Anita main track and went five furlongs in 1:01.60, starting off with fractions of :12 2/5 and :36 2/5 according to my watch. Although he was under little urging, he kept his ears back and seemed to be putting some effort into his workout. He didn’t gallop-out particularly fast, getting another furlong in about :15 seconds while easing up. Afterward, it was announced that Vyjack–who is a graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf–would target the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile rather than the Mile.
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