Photo by Coady Photography. Videos courtesy of Churchill Downs
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.
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.
“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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