The possibility grade 1 winner Gun Runner could start in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park came closer to fruition after a deal was reached Jan. 20 for the horse's owners to use Ruis Racing's slot in the 12-horse starting gate.
Mick Ruis, one of the original 12 owners who bought positions in the Pegasus World Cup for $1 million each, said in a text message the morning of Jan. 20 that Gun Runner is expected to use Ruis Racing's slot in the race. If Gun Runner does not make the starting gate, Ruis plans to run his colt War Envoy.
On Jan. 23, Pegasus stakeholders are required to submit at least one entrant they intend to run in the race. At that time they also can submit an also-eligible horse and then choose one later to fill their spot in the starting gate.
The Gun Runner deal is contingent upon the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride , owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, being allowed to leave Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots where a quarantine has been in place due to an outbreak of equine herpesvirus. He also would have to be permitted into the stable area at Gulfstream Park by state and track officials.
Agriculture officials for the state of Louisiana have said the quarantine could be lifted Jan. 21 for barns housing horses unaffected by EHV-1 positives, provided there are no further confirmed cases.
Florida state veterinarian Mike Short doesn't anticipate the state putting in additional restrictions on horses shipping in from Louisiana once they're out of quarantine.
"In general, we trust the states that lift their quarantine to do a good job and follow the proper protocol for the issues going on. In most cases we don't usually put additional restrictions on horses coming out of quarantine," Short said. "It depends on the disease, but with EHV-I, where most states follow the proper protocol and biosecurity procedures, we usually don't do anything additional as a state.
"Now we certainly communicate the situation with our industry, our tracks and training centers, and horse organizations. They can put additional restrictions or requirements in place, which sometimes they do. I think Gulfstream is planning on looking at that."
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Clark Handicap (G1) winner Gun Runner has won half of his dozen career starts and earned in excess of $2 million. Previous to his Clark victory, the colt ran second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) behind Tamarkuz .
Ruis's other option is War Envoy. A son of War Front , War Envoy began his career in Ireland, racing for his breeder Joseph Allen and the Coolmore-affiliated connections of Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith. The colt has won two of 21 starts, and has placed in five stakes, including a second in the At The Races Champagne Stakes and third in the GAIN Railway Stakes, both group 2 events at Ireland's Curragh Racecourse.
War Envoy was purchased by Ike Green on behalf of Ruis for $150,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky horses of racing age sale and is trained by Craig Dollase.
Frank Angst contributed to this story.
Pegasus Probables (as of Jan. 20)
|Juddmonte Farm||Coolmore Stud|
(Lookin At Lucky)
|Gunpowder Farms, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing||Reeves Thoroughbred Racing|
|California Chrome LLC||California Chrome LLC|
|Jim McIngvale||Jim McIngvale|
|Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm||Ruis Racing|
|Donegal Racing||Jerry and Ronnie Frankel|
|Starlight Racing||Starlight Racing|
|John Oxley||Earle Mack, Moustapha Fostock, and Chester Broman Sr.|
|Prayer for Relief
|Zayat Stables||Rosedown Racing Stables (Jeff Weiss)|
|Reddam Racing||Reddam Racing|
|Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper)||Stronach Stables||Stronach Stables|
|Loooch Racing Stables and partners||Dan Schafer|
|Note: Ruis Racing plans to enter War Envoy as an also eligible.|