Barring significant changes in discussions between Gulfstream Park officials and the connections of Gun Runner, the Candy Ride colt will not make it to the South Florida racetrack for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28.
Gulfstream general manager PJ Campo said Jan. 22 that Gun Runner's connections have not satisfied Gulfstream's requirements for the grade 1 winner to ship in from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, which has recently experienced an outbreak of equine herpesvirus.
"They haven't fulfilled the requirements." Campo said. "They refused to do nasal swab and we haven't received any paperwork. That's a non-starter for us. We have to protect the integrity of our backstretch."
Ron Winchell, who co-owns Gun Runner with Three Chimneys Farm, said he refused the nasal swab test because of advice from his private veterinarian. According to Winchell, Gun Runner's blood has tested clean for equine herpesvirus.
"They require a blood test and nasal swab. We're fine with the blood test, because the blood test should cover everything," Winchell said. "With the nasal swab, our vet recommended not to do that and said there is a 15% chance of false positive.
"If he has a false positive, he has to stand for 30 days on concrete," Winchell continued, referencing quarantine procedures at Fair Grounds. "That could be harmful to him and his future. Why should we subject our future with Gun Runner to that? It's a roll of the dice not worth taking."
Fair Grounds had its track-wide quarantine lifted Sunday, which allows horses to ship in and out of all barns unaffected by the current quarantine on the backstretch. Barns affected by the quarantine will continue to follow protocols as directed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and may become eligible for release from quarantine at future dates.
Campo said Gulfstream sent The Stronach Group's equine health and safety director, Dr. Robert O'Neil, to Fair Grounds to help with Gun Runner's quarantine procedures, but also said O'Neil's report back was not encouraging.
"(O'Neil) didn't like the (quarantine) protocols in place," Campo said. "Every track and state has different protocols, but he just didn't think it was as tight as it should have been. At this point, we've done everything we can to make it work, because we had a stakeholder request, we do what we can to get this horse in the race. We've done our due diligence."
Gun Runner's connections had reached an agreement with Pegasus stakeholder Ruis Racing to run in the 1 1/8-mile race. Campo said Ruis runner War Envoy could take his place.
Winchell said there is no specific race target for the Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner, but that he could land in several different spots in the next 60 days.