Tuesday, September 05, 2017
Gun Runner Taking Proven Path to Horse of the Year Honors
Four Oaklawn stakes winners in the last 22 years have won the prestigious Woodward Stakes en route to Horse of the Year honors.
Gun Runner is positioned to become the fifth following a blowout victory in the $750,000 Grade 1 race Saturday at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has led the Oaklawn standings eight times since 2007.
Gun Runner earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 115, a career high, following his 10 ¼-length victory in what figures to be his final prep for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 4 at Del Mar. Under regular rider Florent Geroux, he ran 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:47.43 and paid $2.70 as the heavy favorite.
The Woodward was the third consecutive Grade 1 triumph for Gun Runner, who began his 4-year-old campaign with a runaway victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn.
Other Oaklawn stakes winners to capture the Woodward include Cigar (1995 and 1996), Curlin (2008), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Havre de Grace (2011). Cigar won the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap and was named Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996. Curlin won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby in 2007 and was named Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Rachel Alexandra was named 2009 Horse of the Year after winning all eight of her starts, including Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes and Fantasy Stakes. Havre de Grace won Oaklawn’s Azeri Stakes and Apple Blossom Handicap in 2011, the same year she was crowned Horse of the Year.
Another Oaklawn stakes winner, Lawyer Ron, was named champion older male after winning the 2007 Woodward. Lawyer Ron won the 2006 Arkansas Derby and 2007 Oaklawn Handicap.
Asmussen also trained Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.
Gun Runner, co-owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, raised his career earnings to $5,738,500 following his 10th victory from 17 lifetime starts. That earnings total ranks 38th on the all-time list for horses with at least one start in the United States or Canada, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
Gun Runner entered the Woodward No. 1 in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top Thoroughbred Poll for horses of all ages.
Ivan the Great
Multiple Oaklawn stakes-winning sprinter Ivan Fallunovalot resumed his pursuit of $1 million in career earnings with a powerful 5 ¾-length allowance victory as the heavy favorite Saturday night at Remington Park.
Under Luis Quinonez, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2007, Ivan Fallunovalot ($3.40) ran 6 furlongs over a fast surface in 1:08.28 to narrowly miss Smoke of Ages’ track record of 1:08.10, which was set in 1991.
Owned by Lewis Mathews of Bismarck, Ark., and trained by Tom Howard of Hot Springs, Ivan Fallunovalot raised his career earnings to $855,956 following his 16th victory from 27 starts. The 7-year-old gelded son of Valid Expectations was claimed for $25,000 at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting and won the track’s $100,000 King Cotton Stakes in 2015 and 2016.
Saturday’s race marked the first for Ivan Fallunovalot since he sustained an ankle injury shortly after a second-place finish in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11 at Oaklawn.
Howard was using Saturday’s race as a prep for the $150,000 David M. Vance Stakes Sept. 24 at Remington Park. The gelding has won the race the last three years.
Asmussen edged Brad Cox 18-17 to win the training title at the Ellis Park meeting that closed Monday. Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg won 13 races to finish third. Asmussen and Cox finished first and third, respectively, at this year’s Oaklawn meeting, with Van Berg tying for sixth. Mongo Racing (Ruston Jennings and J.R. Caldwell) won the Ellis Park owner’s title with six victories. Mongo Racing won two races this year at Oaklawn. Caldwell finished eighth in the standings this year with 15 victories. … Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last five years, won 13 races to finish 10th at the Saratoga meet that closed Monday. Asmussen tied for 10th in the trainer standings with nine victories. … Despite ducking out near finish of the 7-furlong race, Sporting Chance ($13.40) was a neck winner of the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds Monday at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Sporting Chance is a son of Tiznow. Lukas, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011, also won an allowance/optional claimer Saturday at Saratoga with Warrior’s Club ($16.20). Lukas, who turned 82 Saturday, saddled Warrior’s Club to an allowance/optional claiming victory March 18 at Oaklawn and to a runner-up finish in the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes for 3-year-olds April 15 at Oaklawn. … Madefromlucky, who chased eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Rebel and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, was a 12 ¼-length winner of the $200,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes (G3) Monday at Parx. … Colonelsdarktemper, a Feb. 18 career debut winner at Oaklawn, finished third in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Monday at Parx. … Lone Rock, a 2-year-old Majestic Warrior colt, broke his maiden by 10 ½ lengths Saturday at Indiana Grand for trainer Will VanMeter and owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. Lone Rock covered a mile over a fast track in 1:38.46. … Oaklawn-raced Balandeen is entered in the $200,000 Centaur Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the turf Wednesday at Indiana Grand for Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015. Probable post time is 4:21 p.m. (Central). … Oaklawn-raced Lovely Bernadette is the 7-2 program favorite for the $200,000 Indiana Grand Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Wednesday at Indiana Grand. Probable post time for the 1-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies is 4:49 p.m. (Central).