Former claiming horse Gunning For became a graded stakes winner Saturday when he held off a determined Rousing Victory for a half-length victory in the $110,100 Lawrence Realization (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds on a yielding Belmont Park turf.Gunning For, a Dove Hunt gelding ridden patiently by Joe Bravo at odds of 16-1, took the 1 1/2-mile Realization in 2:29 4/5 with a bold wide move on the final turn. Rousing Victory, the 7-5 favorite, was 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Second Performance.Trained by Timothy Walsh for owner/breeder Mrs. Thomas Walsh, Gunning For won for the third time in his last four starts. He won a $32,000 claiming race at Monmouth Park on Aug. 13, then captured the 1 1/8-mile Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park in his next start Sept. 6. He was third in the Paterson at Meadowlands in his last try Oct. 8.It was the first start at Belmont Park for the Delaware Park-based Gunning For.
"He only ran the last quarter in his last race," said Tim Walsh, whose cousin, Tommy Walsh, was one of the leading steeplechase rider in the nation in the early 1960s. "So, we figured we would take a shot while he was doing good. I thought he would like the distance. He's been a lot of fun. He always worked like a good horse, but his first half-dozen starts were terrible because he would always leave his race in the paddock or post parade. He's knocked that off."Outrun early, Bravo angled four wide on the far turn to reach contention and drew clear from pacesetting Second Performance and jockey John Velazquez, who led through fractions of :23 2/4, :47 2/5 and 1:12 1/5. Rousing Victory, who raced in hand while three wide, also rallied coming into the stretch and made a game effort to catch the winner. Dark Equation, Victory Circle, Generous One and Royal Assault completed the order.Gunning For carried the co-top weight – along with Second Performance – of 119 pounds. He gave four pounds to the runner-up, who was coming off a second-place finish to Artie Schiller in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT).Walsh said a likely next start could be the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) for 3-year-olds at 10 furlongs on the turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28. Rousing Victory had never raced beyond 10 furlongs."I think he moved a little too soon," said trainer Phil Serpe. "The horse ran good. He's getting good. We weren't 100 percent sure about the distance, but he seemed to handle it okay."Gunning For, who earned $66,060, won for the fourth time in nine lifetime turf starts. Overall, his record is 5-1-2 in 13 tries with $146,495 won.The Florida bred was produced from the Trempolino mare Hopalina.He paid $34, $9.40 and $4.80. Rousing Victory, who was ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, returned $3.10 and $2.60. Second Performance's show was $3.30. The exacta was worth $114.50.(Chart, Equibase)