Horse of the Year favorite Gun Runner had another methodical work on his march to Gulfstream Park's $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), motoring six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 with workmate Gettysburg at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Jan. 7.
Starting off a couple of lengths behind Gettysburg, Gun Runner went in :12 1/5, :24 2/5, :36 2/6, and :49 1/5, running the final quarter-mile in :24 before completing the six furlongs in 1:13 1/5, and galloping out to seven-eighths of a mile in a strong 1:25 4/5 and a mile in 1:39 4/5. Gun Runner was on Gettysburg's hip through the stretch before striding out in front coming to the wire with minimal encouragement from jockey Florent Geroux.
The workout came a week after Gun Runner and Gettysburg went six furlongs together in 1:10 3/5.
"They worked head-and-head last week, and this week we chose to back him off Gettysburg early and just let him settle," Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. "I thought he handled it really nicely and galloped out really good. It wasn't as intense of a work as last week, and I feel good about it. ... He was probably two or three (lengths) off of Gettysburg away from the pole, engaged him probably by the three-eighths pole, and Gettysburg carried him to almost the sixteenth pole."
The Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner is expected to be asked for more in next Sunday's work, his final at the Fair Grounds before flying out Jan. 18 to Gulfstream. If the Asmussen training pattern holds, Gun Runner will have an easy half-mile at Gulfstream to conclude preparation for his career finale before starting a stallion career at Three Chimneys Farm, the breeding operation near Lexington that owns Gun Runner with Winchell Thoroughbreds.
Also on the Fair Grounds work tab Sunday was Charles Fipke's Pegasus contender Seeking the Soul, winner of the Clark Handicap presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) in his last start. The 5-year-old had a leisurely five-furlong work in 1:03 1/5 under Emerson Chavez.
Trainer Dallas Stewart said he wanted to slow down the work after the son of Perfect Soul went a half-mile in :48 flat the week before, the fourth-fastest that day of 94 workouts at the distance.
"Just a little bit easier today, came back good and looked great," Stewart said. "So we'll have two more works; we're on schedule."
Seeking the Soul will be on the same Jan. 18 Tex Sutton equine charter that brings the California horses to Florida, the flight stopping in New Orleans.
"That's pretty much what we've been doing," Stewart said, adding of a work over the track where he'll race, "I just don't think it's necessary. I'm happy with him here. We'll go down there and be ready to rock and roll. ... The best horses in America are in the race. This is a freaking nice race. Maybe Gun Runner is in a class by himself right now. But when you get down to it, it's a horse race. He's got to go around there and run."