SAN LUIS REY DOWNS-BASED STORMY LIBERAL TRAINED UP TO VICTORY IN BC TURF SPRINT
ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2017)–Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner, who was second in last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, returned to The Great Race Place to work a total of four times over the Santa Anita main track this past month, leading to his signature moment on Saturday, victory in the Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
In addition to Gun Runner, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Battle of Midway and Peter Miller’s Roy H, respective winners of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint, made for a total of three Santa Anita-trained horses who tasted victory over the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships Friday and Saturday. (Miller was also victorious in Saturday’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with come-backing Stormy Liberal, who overcame a nearly five month absence while based at The Stronach Group’s San Luis Rey Downs Training Center in Bonsall).
With top Asmussen assistant Scot Blasi overseeing his day-to-day activity, Gun Runner was sent to Santa Anita just prior to the track’s 19-day Autumn Meet, which opened on Sept. 29. A 10 ¼ length winner of Saratoga’s Grade I Woodward Stakes Sept. 2, the 4-year-old Candy Ride colt, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, worked a leisurely half mile here on Oct. 2 in 50.40 and then adhered to a seven-day work pattern, culminating in a brilliant six furlong move of 1:11.80 on Oct. 23.
“We do greatly appreciate Santa Anita’s role in accomplishing this magnificent win,” said Asmussen, from Louisville, Ky., this morning. “From (VP Racing) Rick Hammerle on down, even the security folks are in tune with what is required, what’s going on, in the process of bringing a horse up to a race like the Classic.
“We’ve had a history of running under (Track Superintendent) Dennis Moore and I had a lot of faith in his ability to provide a consistent, safe surface that would allow Gun Runner to be at his absolute best when it counted. We have a history with the Moore family. His father actually put in my dad’s training track in Laredo (Texas) in 1980.”
Asmussen also noted that Gun Runner was “in the air right now” en route to Three Chimneys Farm in Lexington, where he would remain for an undetermined period prior to returning to training in advance of the $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.
Live racing will return to Santa Anita on Tuesday, Dec. 26, opening day of the track’s traditional Winter Meet.