Gun Runner had his first timed workout Dec. 3 since winning the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 4, as the Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's colt took another step toward his final career start in Gulfstream Park's $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 27.
Trainer Steve Asmussen is well-known for engaging his horses in easy half-mile workouts, and this one was an even easier exercise, with Gun Runner striding home in :51 2/5 under exercise rider Angel Garcia amid patchy fog at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
"First breeze back after the Classic, quite a bit of travel, a lot of things obviously have transpired since then with the announcement that he's going to run in the Pegasus and that being his last race," Asmussen said. "With the holiday season coming up, we got back on the work tab a touch sooner than planned. But the weather is great right now, the surface at the Fair Grounds is excellent and he's wanting to do something.
"I wanted him to not overdo it off of how hard and how fast he was working in California. I just wanted him to be patient," he added. "I had considered just skipping an easy half-mile coming back with him. But I thought he was pretty aggressive in his gallops for more than we'd done and just wanted him to settle in and relax and get back into the routine he's had so much success with."
Asmussen said current plans call for Gun Runner to ship to Gulfstream in time to have a work over the track the Monday before the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus. The race falls two days after he is expected to be crowned North America's 2017 Horse of the Year after a campaign that saw him go five-for-five in the United States, his only defeat on the year being a second-place finish behind champion Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1). Gun Runner and jockey Florent Geroux avenged that defeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic, setting a swift pace while being challenged throughout by $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) winner Collected.
"He is everything you want one to be in the fact that he was extremely talented always," Asmussen said. "But he's incrementally gotten better and more professional and accepted a tremendous amount of pressure from the circumstances and the races and what was expected of him. (With) the culmination of winning the Breeders' Cup Classic in California under those circumstances, that's a Horse of the Year campaign."
The son of Candy Ride has won five grade 1 races in his career: last fall's Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs defeating older horses; Churchill's 2017 Stephen Foster Handicap by seven lengths in his first start after Dubai; a sweep of Saratoga Race Course's Whitney Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths, and Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets by 10 1/4 lengths; and the Breeders' Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths.
With a record of 11-3-2 from 18 career starts, Gun Runner has earned $8,988,500.