Tuesday, November 07, 2017

 

Oaklawn Runners Extend Breeders’ Cup Record

 

Of the combined 68 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Distaff races run, almost one-fourth have been captured by Oaklawn stakes winners following the results last weekend at Del Mar.

 

2017 Razorback Handicap (G3) winner Gun Runner clinched Eclipse Awards in two divisions (Horse of the Year and older male) with a front-running 2 ¼-length victory over Collected in Saturday’s $6 million Classic (G1). 2016 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) winner Forever Unbridled secured an Eclipse Award as champion older female with a half-length victory in Friday’s $2 million Distaff (G1).

 

Since the debut of the Breeders’ Cup in 1984, Oaklawn stakes winners have combined to win the Classic and Distaff 16 times (24 percent).

 

Oaklawn stakes winners have won the Distaff nine times: Lady’s Secret in 1986, Bayakoa in 1989 and 1990, Paseana in 1992, Escena in 1998, Azeri in 2002, Round Pond in 2006, Zenyatta in 2008 and Forever Unbridled in 2017.

 

Lady’s Secret won Oaklawn’s Prima Donna Stakes in 1985. Bayakoa (1989), Paseana (1992 and 1993), Escena (1998), Azeri (2002), Zenyatta (2008) and Forever Unbridled (2016) won the Apple Blossom. Round Pond won Oaklawn’s Honeybee and Fantasy in 2005 and Azeri in 2006.

 

Lady’s Secret (1986), Azeri (2002) and Zenyatta (2010) were all named Horse of the Year.

 

The Classic has been won seven times by Oaklawn stakes winners: Wild Again in 1984, Concern in 1994, Cigar in 1995, Curlin in 2007, Zenyatta in 2009, American Pharoah in 2015 and Gun Runner in 2017.

 

Wild Again (1984) and Cigar (1995) won the Oaklawn Handicap. Concern won Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby in 1994, as did Curlin in 2007 and American Pharoah in 2015. American Pharoah and Curlin also won the Rebel, Oaklawn’s final major Arkansas Derby prep.

 

In addition to Zenyatta, Cigar (1995 and 1996), Curlin (2007 and 2008) and American Pharoah (2015) were all named Horse of the Year.

 

Gun Runner is the third Razorback starter to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Wild Again ran eighth in the 1984 Razorback. Black Tie Affair ran third in the 1991 Razorback before winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic en route to Horse of the Year and champion older male honors. 

 

On the strength of his front-running Classic victory, Gun Runner received all 40 first-place votes in the final NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) Top Thoroughbred Poll released Monday.

 

Collected, fourth as the favorite in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds last year at Oaklawn, finished second in the poll. Forever Unbridled was third.

 

Gun Runner’s Classic victory, his 11th in 18 starts overall, raised his career earnings to $8,988,500. Gun Runner is the third-highest money earner to race at Oaklawn, trailing only Curlin ($10,501,800) and Cigar ($9,999,815).

 

Gun Runner will be the third Horse of the Year winner for Hall of Famer and eight-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen. Asmussen also trained Curlin and Rachel Alexandra (2009 Horse of the Year).

 

Rachel Alexandra was a two-time stakes winner during the 2009 Oaklawn meeting (Martha Washington and Fantasy) for trainer Hal Wiggins, Oaklawn’s new racing integrity officer. Rachel Alexandra was transferred from Wiggins to Asmussen after being sold privately following a victory in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks.

 

Finish Lines

 

Oaklawn’s stable area opens Monday, with the track opening for training Nov. 20. … Five-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. had two victories Sunday at Churchill Downs to raise his North American career total to 918, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Santana figures to reach 1,000 career North American victories in 2018. … Farrell, a candidate for Oaklawn’s series of two-two stakes races for older fillies and mares in 2018, was a front-running one-length winner of the $200,000 Chilukki Stakes (G2) Saturday at Churchill Downs. Channing Hill, among Oaklawn’s top 10 riders in 2017, rode Farrell ($10.40) for his father-in-law, trainer Wayne Catalano. … Hard Aces, sixth in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2015 at Oaklawn, finished third in the $200,000 Marathon Stakes (G2) Friday at Del Mar.

 

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