Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's Gun Runner elicited the usual strong reviews for his final work before shipping for the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), covering six furlongs in 1:12 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 11.
The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride is slated to travel to Miami March 12, where he will quarantine before taking a direct flight to Dubai for his expected meeting against champion Arrogate in the March 25 race. Saturday's drill was the second move for Gun Runner since winning the Feb. 20 Razorback Handicap (G3) by 5 3/4 lengths in his seasonal bow, an effort that cemented his connections' plans to move forward with the international venture.
"I haven't heard any discouraging words," cracked David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds. "Everybody is pretty happy with him, we just have our fingers crossed. We once shipped a horse to Australia for the Melbourne Cup and he tied up in his last work before the race and didn't run. So everyone is kind of just holding their breath hoping we get there as good as we can be. But he looked pretty good this morning."
Shipping halfway around the global to a different climate is a whole other animal. Gun Runner, however, has proven a hardy and unflappable sort. He made his 13 starts to date at eight different tracks.
"It's kind of unchartered territory, but up until this point he's been a pretty good shipper," Fiske said. "He's pretty much been all over the country, coast to coast. He's going in a box stall so if he wants to lay down he can. I guess he's in business class—he has one of those fold-down seats."
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and bred by Besliu Stables, Gun Runner notched his first grade 1 win at the end of his sophomore campaign, besting older horses in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 25. The chestnut colt has seven wins, including five graded stakes scores, with earnings of $2,337,800.