Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
The once-beaten Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Gun Runner turned in an eye-catching workout on April 18th at Churchill Downs, breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 flat with regular rider Florent Geroux in the saddle.
Preparing for a start in the May 7th Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Gun Runner worked in company with the capable five-year-old Gold Hawk. Starting one length behind his workmate, Gun Runner posted fractions of :12.80, :24.40, :36.40, and :48 flat to cruise past Gold Hawk and cross the wire two lengths in front while much the best of the pair. Gun Runner then continued past the wire and went six furlongs in 1:13.20.
“I thought he breezed very well this morning and has settled into Churchill very nicely,” trainer Steve Asmussen was quoted as saying in a Churchill Downs press release. “I thought that he handled the racetrack very well and I’m obviously very excited about our opportunities. He’s a tremendous individual as far as conformation and pedigree-wise and he’s got a great attitude. He’s very energetic as far as training goes; he’s always been very effortless over the racetrack.”
Beautiful breeze for Gun Runner (outside) this morning at Churchill. 19 days until the Derby! pic.twitter.com/W60kMnSwIP
— Three Chimneys Farm (@Three_Chimneys) April 18, 2016
Today’s workout was Gun Runner’s third at Churchill Downs this month, following four furlongs in :50.60 on April 4th and five furlongs in 1:01 flat on April 11th. Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner is expected to breeze twice more before the Kentucky Derby.
“I’m going to need more of a blow with him next week,” Asmussen said. “I think today had a lot to do with what I want to go with next week’s work and what adjustments I need to make and talking to Florent before we’ve worked him in the past. He wasn’t ready for the Kentucky Jockey Club last year just because of how easy he does minutes and I think how we structure the work will matter and I thought he cooled out easily today and I think we’re going to have to stretch him a bit between now and the Derby.”
Regarding Gun Runner’s fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, the only defeat of Gun Runner’s career, Asmussen said “I was probably a little over confident going into it. He needed a little more off of just two races against some more seasoned horses. I think he’s matured nicely and put in two great runs this year. He’s gotten more out of his training recently. ”
Although Gun Runner did lose the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, he is proven at Churchill Downs, having won a one-mile maiden special weight over the track on September 11th, 2015.
“I don’t think we have to worry about if he does handle the course,” Asmussen said. “The scenario is that there are 20 horses and I don’t think they’ll all love the surface and I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that with him.”
Asmussen also shared some thoughts on his other Kentucky Derby contender Creator, who won the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) with an impressive late rally on April 16th at Oaklawn Park.
“The horse [Creator] is definitely getting good at the right time,” Asmussen said. “I’m very proud of him off of Saturday’s victory and he is expected in here later today. Right now I am very proud of the condition my two horses are in at this point. I think as things sort out closer I’ll get the feeling of how well they’re going to do on that day. Right now I’m just extremely happy and now the focus will be on sharpening them up or what we think they need between now and the Derby.”
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