Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner, the favorite to be crowned 2017 Horse of the Year on Jan. 25, had his second timed work Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans in preparation for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Gun Runner worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:02 2/5 with exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard. His first work a week earlier was a half-mile in 51 2/5 seconds.
“It was pretty on par, on schedule, working backward every Sunday morning from the Pegasus,” said David Fiske, co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds' long-time racing and bloodstock manager. Fiske wasn't on hand but received the video and, referencing conversations with Steve Asmussen and the Hall of Fame trainer's typical work pattern for a major race, said of the work, “Nothing exciting, just gradually getting him ramped up. They'll gradually get longer and more serious. He'll get with company three or four works out, gradually get faster and farther. We'll just keep turning the dial up.”
The Pegasus will be the soon-to-be 5-year-old Gun Runner's last race before going to stud at co-owner Three Chimneys Farm near Lexington, Ky. Fiske said that, with the pending stallion career, the ownership has been restructured as a syndicate, with Three Chimneys and Winchell Thoroughbreds each owning half the shares. Gun Runner's stud fee will be $70,000 for 2018.
While the owners could sell some of their shares, Fiske said, “I don't think anybody wants to at the moment. It's just a contingency that if we ever want to, we've got that flexibility.”
Meanwhile, individual breeding seasons — which allow for breeding one approved mare to the stallion for that single year — are being sold for the 2018 breeding season that begins in mid-February. “The seasons are flying off the shelf, as far as I can tell,” Fiske said. “They keep sending me over mares that have been submitted. I mean, I get five or six of those a day to look at.”
Gun Runner is a son of the Lane's End Farm stallion Candy Ride, who went seven-for-seven in his native Argentina and the U.S. Gun Runner's dam, the Giant's Causeway mare Quiet Giant, is out of the same mare that produced Saint Liam, the 2005 Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year.
For owner Ron Winchell, it's a similar scenario to his half-ownership in super-stallion Tapit, who was campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and stands at Gainesway Farm for a $300,000 stud fee.
“Early on in Tapit's career, there were some (shares) that changed hands for what we thought were undervalued,” Fiske said. “We're obviously proud of the horse. So we'd buy one and sell one for more money a year or two later. But we still have 22 shares, which is exactly half.”
The Eclipse Awards will be held at Gulfstream for the sixth consecutive year on Thursday, January 25.
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