Gun Runner, prior to his work Apr. 11 at Churchill Downs
The Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Gun Runner, third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), and 2014 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Untapable both breezed a half-mile for their respective starts in the $ 100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) and $ 200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) on Saturday night at Churchill Downs.
A son of Candy Ride, Gun Runner went his half in :50.20 recording fractions of :13.60 and :25.40. Stable mate Untapable went :50 before recording splits of :12.80 and :24.80. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas worked both horses.
“They both went nice and smooth halves,” Asmussen said. “I feel like we’re set and on go for Saturday.”
Asmussen was still relishing Saturday’s significant victory by Creator in the Belmont Stakes (GI), which gave the soon-to-be-enshrined Hall of Fame trainer his first win in the third jewel of the Triple Crown. His other win in an American classic came when Curlin won the 2007 Preakness Stakes over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
“It was extremely exciting, it really was,” Asmussen said of Creator’s victory. “The way the race unfolded for him to redeem himself from the Kentucky Derby was very satisfying. For me, the reason I was so concerned with the pace had a lot to do with the significant factor in Curlin not winning it.”
Asmussen said that Creator would leave to get some time off at WinStar Farm on Monday afternoon and would be under consideration for the $ 1.25 million Travers (GI) at Saratoga on Aug. 27.
Now Asmussen’s attention turns to Saturday night.
Prior to his third-place effort in the Kentucky Derby behind Nyquist and eventual Preakness winner Exaggerator, Gun Runner was victorious in Fair Grounds’ two major preps for the Kentucky Derby, the Risen Star (GII) and Louisiana Derby (GII). Should he exit the Matt Winn in good order, Asmussen plans on sending Gun Runner to the $ 1 million Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park on July 31, a race that was a comeback race for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year.
“I think he’s proved his worth with what he’s done this year with the Louisiana Derby win and the third in the Kentucky Derby, and I think that this is a very good bridge for him to get to the Haskell,” Asmussen said.
Untapable has not found the winner’s circle since a win in last year’s Apple Blossom (GI) at Oaklawn Park, but boasts a spotless 3-for-3 record at Churchill Downs. The 5-year-old daughter of Tapit made her career debut at Churchill Downs a winning one as a 2-year-old before going on to win that year’s Pocahontas (GII). The following year, she won the Kentucky Oaks as the 2-1 favorite.
“That was why we wanted to run her back here in Saturday’s race,” Asmussen said. “It has been too long since we’ve won with her and I think we just need to take our best shot at winning and I think the significance of it being a Win And You’re In race for the ($ 2 million) Breeders Cup Distaff adds to it.”
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