On the morning of May 2nd, just five days before the Kentucky Derby, the Steve Asmussen-trained runners Gun Runner and Creator breezed four furlongs at Churchill Downs in easy fashion, their final workouts in advance of the Derby.
The workouts were very similar, with almost identical fractions. Gun Runner went the distance in :50.40 with fractions of :12.60, :25, and :37.80, while Creator was timed in :50.60 with fractions of :12.60, :25.20, and :38 flat.
“I’m very happy with how they’ve been here at Churchill,” Asmussen was quoted as saying in a Churchill Downs press release. “Just an easy half-mile. The best news of the morning was the condition of the track. I’m very thankful to the Churchill grounds crew for what they did last night. We had a pretty good rain (Sunday) in the afternoon. Looking at the track, there was water standing on it about 6 o’clock last night.
“To come out this morning and see what kind of shape it was in was very pleasant. It definitely made the morning go well. Carlos [Rosas, who exercised Gun Runner] and Abel [Flores, who rode Creator], as always, were spot-on with the horses. They liked how they felt. I thought they were cooling out extremely well, and we’re very excited for the Derby.”
Gun Runner has run twice so far in 2016, winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. “Obviously, I’m very happy with the trajectory that he’s shown to this point,” Asmussen said. “But we also know we need to be better. We’re in the process of it. The Louisiana Derby was a nice step in the right direction, and we’re expecting another step forward.”
Both Gun Runner and Creator have run twice at Churchill Downs. Gun Runner broke his maiden there last September before finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), while Creator finished second in maiden races on both turf and dirt. “I feel very good about the time that they spent here last summer and last fall, very confident with the racetrack and the surroundings,” Asmussen said. “The crew has done a wonderful job with them to put them in a position to do their best. … It’s one of the variables, and we can feel very comfortable that they’re going to handle the surface and the surroundings for their preparation. And when you put 20 of them together in the draw, you’re worried about other things, but I think we can check that off as far as not (being) an excuse and try to move forward.”
Regarding Creator, Asmussen added “He’s always had a lot of talent. He’s a great physical (specimen), a tremendous pedigree, and it’s been in him. I think he just lacked focus in his races.
“It was a bit frustrating running him. You felt like he should have won several of the races you were watching. But he would take mental lapses and just not finish up with the effort you knew he was capable of.”
Videos courtesy of Churchill Downs
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