Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner took another step Christmas Eve in his training preparation for Gulfstream Park's $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Jan. 27, two days after he's expected to be crowned Horse of the Year.
Gun Runner, with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, had his first workout in company since the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar, powering five-eighths of a mile in 1:01 with regular workmate Gettysburg at New Orleans' Fair Grounds Race Course. The track clockers caught the pair going the first eighth-mile in 12 3/5 seconds and subsequent eighth-miles in 12 2/5, 12, 12 2/5 and 11 3/5 before galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:14 and seven-eighths in 1:28.
The only faster five-furlong works Sunday were the four horses that went in 1:00 4/5. Gettysburg's official time was 1:01 1/5.
“Typical Gun Runner work: nice and relaxed the first part and picking it up nicely at the end,” Geroux said before flying out to spend Christmas with his family in Chicago. “Nothing fancy. Just maintenance and preparing him for the work next week.”
The only minor snag came when Gun Runner had to check slightly in midstretch because of a horse galloping toward the rail. “Not too bad, just had to steady him for a little touch,” Geroux said. “The exercise rider moved out of the way in time for us to pass through on the inside.”
It was Geroux's first time on Gun Runner's back since the Breeders' Cup Nov. 4. “But I see him training every morning at the Fair Grounds,” he said. “He feels the same. There's not much new about him. He's great, and if he's the same, he's good. If he runs the same, we'll be in good shape.”
The work was overseen by Scott Blasi, trainer Steve Asmussen's chief assistant who travels everywhere with Gun Runner.
“The objective of the work was just to keep him in a nice rhythm,” Blasi said. “I thought he was off nice off of Gettysburg, relaxed well off of his hip. Very manageable today. He picked it up nice to the wire. Somebody galloping on the rail slowed him down a little bit before the eighth-pole then he picked it up nice, galloped out well.
“Steve wanted him to go in 1:01, and that's what they went in. I had him a little quicker than that. Just a good place to be a month out. I think the whole idea was to keep him in that rhythm, clicking off 12s. The horse is relaxed, getting over the ground really well. He's one of those horses you don't want to do too much with too soon, because I think he'll get turned on. The more you start doing with him, he just gets so ready.”
Gun Runner, who is owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, will make the last start of his career in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus before joining Three Chimneys' stallion roster.
Seeking the Soul Goes Half-Mile in 49
Also at the Fair Grounds Sunday, Charles Fipke's Seeking the Soul worked a half-mile in 49 seconds under exercise rider Emerson Chavez. That was 21st fastest out of 106 works at the distance. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Seeking the Soul won Churchill Downs' Clark Handicap (G1) in his last start.
“He worked great,” Stewart told the Fair Grounds publicity department. “It was awesome. Couldn't be happier with him.”
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