Creator, Gun Runner Post “Ideal” Workouts at Churchill

Creator, Gun Runner Post “Ideal” Workouts at Churchill

Photo by Coady Photography. Videos courtesy of Churchill Downs

Gun Runner breezing at Churchill Downs on April 25th - Coady Photography
Gun Runner breezing at Churchill Downs on April 25th – Coady Photography

Trainer Steve Asmussen is having a good day. Shortly before learning that he will be inducted in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame this August, Asmussen sent out his Kentucky Derby contenders Gun Runner and Creator to post impressive workouts at Churchill Downs.

Gun Runner, winner of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, worked six furlongs in company with his graded stakes-placed stablemate Gold Hawk. He started off at a good pace with fractions of :12.40, :24.60, :36.40, :48.20, and :59.80 before leaving his stablemate behind under light urging and reaching the wire in 1:12.20. He continued on strongly past the wire, getting seven furlongs in 1:25 flat and a mile in 1:39 flat, an exceptional time. Regular rider Florent Geroux was in the saddle.

Creator, who won the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) at Oaklawn on April 16th, didn’t need as fast a workout given that his last race was just nine days ago, and he went five furlongs in 1:02.40. With regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, Creator posted fractions of :12.60, :25 flat, :37.60 and :49.60 and galloped out in solid fashion, going six furlongs in 1:15.20 and seven furlongs in 1:28.80.

“Their works were ideal for what we think that they need,” Asmussen was quoted as saying in a Churchill Downs press release. “I’m extremely proud of the shape that both of these horses are in going into the Derby. I think that our team has done wonderful with them; I’m very proud of the guys to get them in this position.

“We worked Gun Runner last Monday and me, [assistant trainer] Scott [Blasi] and Florent [Geroux] thought that he needed a little bit more,” Asmussen added. “Saturday they started the Derby break training; I think that the racetrack is not as tight, just freshly harrowed. We thought that we would get a blow out of him today and that’s exactly what we got out of the work.”

Asmussen also shared thoughts on the rapidly-improving Creator, who required six starts to break his maiden before finishing third in the Rebel Stakes and breaking through with a big win in the Arkansas Derby.

“Creator is coming around at the right time,” Asmussen said. “I really like his focus and how professional he’s been the last two to three weeks. We’re just trying to keep him in the rhythm that he was in between the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby. I was extremely pleased for him to maintain his focus as well as he did today with as much as there is to look at here the couple of weeks leading up to the Derby. I definitely think that he is turning into an excellent racehorse.

“I think pedigree wise he is getting good at the right time. He’s always been talented. He did lack some focus and Mr. [Kenny] Trout and Elliott [Walden] had all the patience in the world of letting him come around. Elliott always had the vision of him getting good when it mattered. The first couple of turf starts were his lack of speed early. I felt that talking with Elliott, we thought that it would not deter him from future racing, to just leave there and get covered up with dirt and not really know what happened. He said that they went the same path with Drosselmeyer. His first couple of races were on turf, hopefully it works out as well.

“They are definitely a compliment to each other,” Asmussen said of Creator and Gun Runner. “Just speaking with Elliott after [Creator’s] work. As handy as Creator is in the morning and the way he goes to the pole and breaks out, it’s kind of surprising with his lack of speed coming from the gate, but it is very effective for him. We’re comfortable with that. That being said Gun Runner is a quick horse, extremely athletic and capable of being very close to any pace. The key with him is how he gets under the wire the first time. I think over half of the field is eliminated in the first quarter of a mile in the Derby.”

Both Gun Runner and Creator are expected to breeze once more before the Kentucky Derby.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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