Arrogate Gallops, Gun Runner Works at Meydan

Arrogate Gallops, Gun Runner Works at Meydan
Photo: Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club
Gun Runner works a timed half-mile in :49 4/5 March 20 at Meydan

Juddmonte Farm's Arrogate powered down the Meydan Racecourse stretch, in about a half-mile breeze March 20 in preparation $10-million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) March 25. 

Trainer Bob Baffert said he did not have a stopwatch on the colt but he probably went in about :50 for the distance, just enough to sharpen him for Saturday's test. 

"He's handling everything really well," Baffert said of the long journey from Arrogate's base in California to the Meydan quarantine stable and adjusting to the racetrack surface.

"He looks good to me," he said, adding that Arrogate will walk the stable area Tuesday morning and return to the main track Wednesday. 

"I've never won it here (at Meydan), and it's totally different," said Baffert, who won the Dubai World Cup in 1998 with Silver Charm and in 2001 with Captain Steve. "I really liked that old track (Nad Al Sheba), but this is totally different (with) tighter turns. You need a lot of racing luck to get away from the gate. It becomes a jockey's race.

"And you never know until they start turning for home—is the horse going to show up? As a trainer, you're just hoping that at the quarter pole, they're moving."

Baffert said all the signs are positive for Arrogate but he pointed out that there is added pressure.

"Because I brought this great horse over here and I don't want to mess it up. It's still a horse race, and when it's a major race, I go into it focused. I don't take anything for granted."

This will be the first race for the son of Unbridled's Song after a 4 3/4-length score in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.

Baffert also had last year's World Cup third place finisher, Hoppertunity, gallop a half-mile Monday.

"He felt great," exercise rider Dana Barnes said after the brief drill aboard Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman's son of Any Given Saturday.

"Hoppertunity has been training better than he ever has, and he really loves it here," said Baffert, while comparing the 6-year-old horse, who enters off a one-length victory in the Feb. 4 San Antonio Stakes (G2), to the arcade game character Pac-Man. "He just keeps coming and gobbling up ground and getting checks, and you never know—one day he could get there (to win)."

Winchell Thoroughbreds' and Three Chimneys Farm's Gun Runner got a feel for the Meydan dirt course Monday morning, working a timed half-mile in :49 4/5.

With Steve Asmussen's top assistant Scott Blasi watching on horseback, the son of Candy Ride   went to the track at 7 a.m. local time in Dubai.

Winner of the grade 2 Louisiana Derby last year, Gun Runner enters the world's second-richest race off an impressive victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) last out at Oaklawn Park and the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in his previous outing.

The consistent chestnut seeks his first victory at 1 1/4 miles, a distance which he has twice finished third, including last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1), which was won in record time by Arrogate.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Keen Ice and Neolithic to gallop approximately 2,200 meters (about 1 3/8 miles).

"We're very pleased with (Keen Ice)," Pletcher's assistant Ginny DePasquale said. "Mentally, he's completely changed."

Neolithic and Keen Ice last ran in the Pegasus World Cup, where they finished third and fourth, respectively.

"He's been on his toes ever since he arrived," said DePasquale. "It seems like he's adapted unbelievably well."

DePasquale said the Pletcher trainees that have traveled to the UAE for the Dubai World Cup Carnival will continue to gallop during the week and will not have any speed drills.

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