Gun Runner Takes Aim At Breeders Cup Classic

Steve Asmussen’s star 4YO Gun Runner will not start again before the Breeders Cup Classic after blitzing his rivals in the G1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last weekend.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner earned his 10th win from 17 starts and bolstered his earnings to $5,738,500 when he won the G1 feature by more than 10 lengths from Todd Pletcher’s pair Rally Cry and Neolithic.
Asmussen said that he would now train Gun Runner for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4.
"This was our last race heading into the Breeders' Cup, and I thought it went as well as we could have hoped," he said.
"Everything culminates with the Breeders' Cup Classic. That is why he is in training this year and that has been the goal and continues to be the goal."
The only loss Gun Runner has suffered in his last six starts came when he finished second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March.
His Woodward score was the fourth G1 win of his career and third straight top-level victory after his 5 1/4 lengths win in the Whitney Stakes in August and seven lengths workout in the Stephen Foster Handicap in June.
Asmussen also won the Woodward in 2008 and 2009 with future Hall of Famers Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.
Pletcher is full of admiration for Gun Runner.
"Gun Runner is really good. He keeps putting big performances together one after another," said Pletcher.
"We knew we couldn't just follow Gun Runner around there. That wasn't going to work.
“We thought to go ahead and let Neolithic run to the first turn and I thought Rally Cry got in a good rhythm and fought on hard for second. The winner was just too good."
Neolithic, third in both the Dubai World Cup and Pegasus World Cup, held a two length advantage over Gun Runner but jockey Florent Geroux aboard the eventual winner was already looking over his shoulder for threats at the half mile.
When he let Gun Runner go on the final turn the only drama left was how visually impressive the final result would
"That was better than the Whitney," Geroux said. "Overall he is just getting better. I don't think he is 100% cranked up yet.
“I really do think he has another step forward in him.”

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