Lucky ‘Rabbit’s Foot’: Gun Runner’s Extra Horseshoe Brings Additional Intrigue To Whitney

by | 08.06.2017 | 3:37pm
The "extra" horseshoe Gun Runner brought back to the Whitney winner's circle

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney's Gun Runner was in fine fettle Sunday morning following his 5 ¼-length domination in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney – a performance made all the more memorable by a wayward horseshoe that mystifyingly made its way into the chestnut colt's tail.

“He's fabulous, happy with himself, came back great,” reported Gun Runner's Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Prior to the race, Gun Runner's regular jockey, Florent Geroux weighed in as the Whitney field's high weight at 124 pounds, but the pair picked up a few odd ounces during the backstretch run when pacesetter Cautious Giant sprung a horseshoe high into the air, eventually landing behind Gun Runner, where it became entangled in the 3-5 favorite's tail.

In this photograph, the horseshoe tangled in Gun Runner's tail is clearly visible as he crosses the wire

“[I only noticed it] once he slowed down,” Asmussen said. “We watched the tape repeatedly, repeatedly, and if you never seen anything before, just wait around. Can you believe that? I mean if we tried to throw one and stick in one's tail as he was standing, still we'd go 0-for-1,000 – let alone at a run, let alone Gun Runner, let alone in the Whitney – and it stayed. [With] how fast he was going, it was held out from him, when he slowed down to walk, then it came into him. We were obviously unaware of it until he came back to the winner's circle, but not a nick on him. I mean, there's still nails in it.”

The mystery shoe was removed when Gun Runner galloped back to the winners' circle and initially discarded, he said. But once the horse's connections realized the rare curiosity of the situation, Asmussen's assistant trainer Scott Blasi went back to retrieve it, paying $100 to a lucky fan who had picked up the unique castoff.

“My kids took it home,” Asmussen said of the famous shoe's fate. “They were going to put a shadow box around it. They said that they literally have a rabbit's foot since it came off the horse that was the rabbit.”

The Whitney marked the fourth straight U.S. victory for Gun Runner and his second Grade 1 win in a row following his seven-length romp in the Stephen Foster on June 17 at Churchill Downs. The Foster marked the 4-year-old Candy Ride colt's first start since finishing second to reigning Eclipse Award winner Arrogate in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in March.

Asmussen said he expects to run Gun Runner once before the Breeders' Cup, citing the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Saratoga's closing weekend as a strong possibility. Gun Runner, who finished second in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, holds an all-fees-paid berth into the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Del Mar.

“It seems very probable with him running over the racetrack here [and] not having to travel again,” he said. “It would be ideal.”

  • Ida Lee

    A weird racing season…can’t come up with a favorite among our 3-year-crop….the Distaffers are burning up the track in the US and the UK and some believe an Australian mare is the best racer in the world….a world class chef is reporting on the most important races heading into the BC….a weird extra shoe incident in the Whitney involving the winner…next you’ll tell me Arrogate came in 4th in the San Diego ….

    • Genellen

      LOL It does strain belief, doesn’t it? I had been wondering which horse had “gifted” Gun Runner with the shoe; it’s just too funny that it was the “lucky” rabbit….you can’t make this stuff up!

      • Ida Lee

        LOL…I know !!! I saw something out of place from the side of Gun’s tail and the tail was up so I thought he was pooping ….turns out his adrenaline was coming down and he started to feel the shoe hanging from his tail….it’s ridiculous …what are the chances the rabbit would lose his shoe and land on the winner?…of course, I hit the trifecta with Gun, Keen Ice and Breaking Lucky….how often does that happen? ahhhh, never….

        • Kristine

          Too funny Ida, I also chose that trifecta, which also never happens, and since I don’t bet, it meant nothing, which always happens, lol! :) Proud of Gun Runner, and the whole horseshoe thing was pretty cool to witness!

          • Ida Lee

            I don’t bet either which is a good thing I don’t cause it’s seldom I pick the winner or if I do, everyone else does too….can’t wait for the Travers….at the rate we’re going, the actual racing may be the least memorable thing that happens….

          • Kristine

            Agreed!! :)

  • Michael Castellano

    Gun Runner is definitely an improving horse and the only potential competition to a 100% Arrogate , and has to worry Baffert and his connections come the B.C., at least a little, maybe a lot. If he does not win or run very well in the Pacific, he will not run in the B.C.

  • Michael Shea

    Hard to believe the nails were still in the shoe, yet not a scratch on Gun Runner. Wow, so many possible bad scenarios and it all ends up just a fun story.

    • Marilyn Shively

      thank goodness -no harm, no foul.

  • Wixby

    Arrogate wants nothing to do with this monster!!!!!

    • Meydan Rocks

      He sent Cupid to check the wheels in the Woodward.

  • William McAlevy

    I’m a true fan of Gun Runner, but Scott Blasi is a piece of crap.How the horseman allowed Steve Asmussen in HOF IS A JOKE. At least it sounds like he isn’t doping horses at Saratoga, 0-45 until Gun Runner won.

    • Minnesota Kid

      Actually, he was 0 for 24 until the Whitney victory, since he is 1 for 25 now.

      • William McAlevy

        Thanks for the correct numbers, I believe my numbers included belmont, but at smaller tracks he is 20 to 39%%%

  • Dave Hunter

    A strong time of 1:47.71. Made me realize how underwhelming the 3 year olds are this year-the Jim Dandy went in 1:50.69.

  • Jbumi

    I’m glad to hear he’s ok. As I watched the race, turning for home I saw something so I slo-mo’d (love my dvr!) & saw the shoe in his tail!! My concern was it would injure him or anyone that came near. Happy it all turned out fine!

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