What’s next for Gun Runner? A little R&R, then likely more racing.
Trainer Steve Asmussen remained coy about future plans for his Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, but the chestnut colt is expected to compete in the world’s richest race – the $16 million Pegasus World Cup – and possibly campaign another season.
“What’s next is celebrating every day from now until they give him the Horse of the Year trophy,” Asmussen told reporters before leaving Del Mar. “The horse deserves it. I can’t tell you the level of appreciation I have for him. Because very few horses accept the amount of pressure that was applied to him, especially in the style in which he did it.”
Gun Runner, who came out of the Classic in excellent shape, left California for Kentucky on Monday. He’ll get a short vacation at Three Chimneys Farm near Lexington, where horse breeders can check out the future stallion. Three Chimneys co-owns Gun Runner with Winchell Thoroughbreds.
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According to Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi, Gun Runner will join Asmussen’s stable at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans later this month for at least one more start as a 5-year-old. The immediate goal is the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 27 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park. Gun Runner missed the inaugural Pegasus, won by Arrogate last January, due to a Fair Grounds quarantine for the equine herpes virus.
Also Monday, Gun Runner was a unanimous pick as the nation’s top horse in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association media poll.
Collected and West Coast, who finished second and third in the Classic, are now pointed to the Pegasus and a rematch with Gun Runner, said trainer Bob Baffert.
Forever Unbridled, who won Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, also is pointing to the Pegasus, said trainer Dallas Stewart.
As for Del Mar in its Cup debut, the seaside track earned rave reviews by racing officials, owners, trainers and fans. The California track is expected to get another Cup in the near future. Churchill Downs will host the 2018 Cup.