Thursday, August 03, 2017
Razorback Handicap winner Gun Runner is the 4-5 favorite in Saturday’s $1.2 million Whitney Handicap at Saratoga; Dixie Belle and Martha Washington Stakes winner Chanel’s Legacy and the Oaklawn raced Vertical Oak are among 10 horses entered in the Grade 1 Test Stakes on Whitney undercard; Lookin at Lee, who ran in Oaklawn’s Southwest, Rebel and Arkansas Der by, is the favorite for Saturday’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby.
Razorback Handicap Winner Gun Run Tops Whitney Field
Gun Runner, one of the world’s top-rated horses, is the 4-5 program favorite for the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Saratoga.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner began his 4-year-old campaign with a front-running 5 ¾-length victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn. He followed up that easy score with a second in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 25 in the United Arab Emirates and a victory in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 17 at Churchill Downs.
Gun Runner, third in the latest Longines world racehorse rankings, is scheduled to break from post 6 Saturday under regular rider Florent Geroux and carry top weight of 124 pounds.
Also entered in the projected seven-horse field are major stakes winners Keen Ice, War Story and Breaking Lucky, who will be ridden by Luis Contreras, Oaklawn’s fifth-leading rider this year.
Cautious Giant, fourth in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) in 2016 at Oaklawn, is another entrant.
Probable post time for the Whitney, the ninth of 11 races, is 4:46 p.m. (Central).
Oaklawn stakes winners to capture the prestigious Whitney include Victory Gallop in 1999, Medaglia d’Oro in 2003 and Lawyer Ron in 2007. Victory Gallop and Lawyer Ron won the Arkansas Derby in 1998 and 2006, respectively. Medaglia d’Oro broke his maiden at the 2002 Oaklawn meeting before returning to Hot Springs to win the Oaklawn Handicap in 2003.
The Whitney undercard includes the $500,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 7 furlongs. Among the 10 horses entered are multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Chanel’s Legacy and Oaklawn-raced Vertical Oak.
Chanel’s Legacy started five times at Oaklawn, winning the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21 and $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11. Vertical Oak, another Asmussen trainee, finished fourth in the Dixie Belle and third in the $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes March 25 at Oaklawn.
Asmussen has won eight Oaklawn training titles since 2007.
Probable post time for the Test, which goes as race 8, is 4:10 p.m. (Central).
Looking For Lee?
Oaklawn-raced Lookin At Lee is the 3-1 program favorite for the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G3) Saturday at Mountaineer.
Lookin At Lee started three times in Hot Springs, finishing third in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20, sixth in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 and third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15 for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. He also started in all three legs of the Triple Crown, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby.
In the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby, Lookin At Lee is scheduled to break from post 8 under Corey Lanerie and carry equal top weight of 118 pounds.
Lookin At Lee is bidding to become the fourth consecutive Rebel/Arkansas Derby starter to win the West Virginia Derby, following Tapiture, Madefromlucky and Cupid.
Asmussen is also seeking his sixth West Virginia Derby victory. Asmussen won the Southwest and West Virginia Derby in 2014 with Tapiture.
Also entered Saturday are Oaklawn-raced Colonelsdarktemper (8-1 in the program) and Silver Dust (15-1). Probable post time for the West Virginia Derby, which goes as race 8, is 4:21 p.m. (Central).
Numerous Oaklawn-raced horses are entered in six stakes races on the West Virginia Derby undercard, including Dreamin and Ivy Bell ($75,000 West Virginia Secretary of State); Black Bear and American Sailor ($75,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup); Bootsy’s Girl ($75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup); Balandeen, Sharp Art and Counterforce ($75,000 Robert C. Byrd Memorial); and Madefromlucky ($200,000 West Virginia Governor’s).
Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s leading rider the last five years, is scheduled to ride the Asmussen-trained Counterforce in the 6-furlong Robert C. Byrd Memorial. Counterforce won the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters last year at Oaklawn.
Oaklawn-raced Scuba is entered in the $100,000 Birdstone Stakes at 1 ¾ miles Thursday at Saratoga. …
With his 24th career mount, apprentice Brett Birzer, the son of Alex Birzer, Oaklawn’s sixth-leading rider this year, recorded his first victory last Thursday at Prairie Meadows. Birzer, who turned 17 Monday, got on horses in the morning during the 2017 Oaklawn season and had his first mount June 25 at Prairie Meadows. Alex Birzer became the 174th jockey in North American history to reach 3,000 victories Feb. 26 at Oaklawn. Brett Birzer’s milestone victory came aboard Viscosity for his father’s longtime clients, trainer Lynn Chleboard and owner Allen Poindexter. Alex Birzer, Chleboard and Poindexter teamed to win the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes this year at Oaklawn with Chanel’s Legacy. … The late Garrett Gomez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider in 1992 with 62 victories, will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Friday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Gomez, who won 10 stakes races at the 1994 Oaklawn meeting, was a two-time Eclipse Award winner (2007 and 2008) as the country’s outstanding jockey. Gomez rode regularly at Oaklawn in 1990-1995 and finished with 326 victories in Hot Springs, the last coming in 2010, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. … Oaklawn-raced Texas Chrome, American Dubai and Code West are entered in the $200,000 Downs At Albuquerque Handicap Saturday at Albuquerque. Probable post time for the 1 1/8-mile Downs At Albuquerque Handicap, won last year by Oaklawn-raced Smack Smack, is 9:10 p.m. (Central).