HORSE racing has a new king: Gun Runner. The 4-year-old colt won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2¼ lengths on Saturday, sending his rival Arrogate to a career-ending defeat at Del Mar.
Gun Runner, a 4-year-old colt, ran 2000m in 2 minutes 1.29. Collected was second and West Coast was another 1¼ lengths back in third.
Arrogate finished in a dead heat for fifth with Gunnevera, done in once again at the seaside track north of San Diego. It was also the scene of two losses this summer.
Mubtaahij was in early contention, but faded away into eighth, beaten a distance.
Gun Runner was not a horse that suddenly burst on the scene. He has 11 wins in 18 starts, including five Grade 1s. He ran third behind Nyquist and Exxagerator in the Kentucky Derby two years ago. Gun Runner was second to Arrogate in Dubai. He won his previous race, the Woodward at Saratoga, by 10 ¼ lengths. He was even the morning-line favourite at 9-5, but the betting public put him behind Arrogate.
“Incredible horse,” said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “We did the right things at the right time and all that made it special. What an awesome feeling this is. [Jockey] Florent [Geroux] has the ultimate confidence in Gun Runner and he rode Gun Runner. … I’m the lucky trainer of the horse of the year.”
Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith commented: “He just doesn’t seem to get a hold of this racetrack, for whatever reason,” Arrogate’s jockey, Mike Smith, said. “I hate to blame it on the track, but he’s shown it time and time again. I keep trying to talk myself into it, that he’s going to like it one day, but he just never did.”
Arrogate has not been the same horse since his dominant wins in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup this year made him the sport’s richest thoroughbred with over $17 million in earnings.
“At the break, when he ducked in and he had to gather him up, you just can’t do that against these horses,” Baffert said. “But I notice when he goes around these turns, he loses momentum. I can’t really totally blame it on the track. He’s so much better than that.”
Steve Haskin, the leading racing scribe in the US, said: I have never seen so many big favourites run so poorly over a racetrack they apparently couldn’t handle. Weird BC all around.”
-extracts from NY Times.