Saturday, February 18, 2017
Gun Runner Back for another Year of Racing
The winners of last year’s Triple Crown races, Nyquist, Exaggerator and Creator, are off to stud to try and produce classic winners. But, one of the country’s top 3-year-olds from 2016 is still around in Gun Runner, who is scheduled to make his seasonal debut in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Monday at Oaklawn.
Co-owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron and Joan Winchell) and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner is a multiple graded stakes winner of $2,037,800. Sandwiched around a third-place finish behind Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Kentucky Derby (G1) were victories in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) against older horses Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs in his last start.
David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds, said there was never any serious talk of retiring Gun Runner, who is scheduled to stand at Three Chimneys when his racing career is completed.
“There’s always some background chatter,” Fiske said Thursday afternoon. “It kind of revolves around, ‘What happens if he doesn’t run after today or if there’s some physical problem.’ There’s always that kind of stuff going on. But, I don’t think there was any serious discussion around the time of the Clark that we were going to pull the plug on him.”
Gun Runner’s successful coast-to-coast nine-race campaign last year – he also won the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds and ran second in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita and $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Parx – reflects why he remained in training, Fiske said.
“Because he’s a racehorse, and racehorses of his quality and caliber are hard to come by, “Fiske said. “They’re few and far between.”
Fiske also said Ron Winchell “likes to race” and Goncalo Borges Torrealba, Three Chimneys chairman, “likes to race.”
“I think that pretty much sums it up,” Fiske said.
Gun Runner had been training this winter at Fair Grounds before arriving earlier this month in Hot Springs. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, he was assigned top weight of 122 pounds for the 1 1/16-mile Razorback. The son of Candy Ride is scheduled to break from the rail under regular rider Florent Geroux.
Asmussen saddled Creator to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn and the Belmont Stakes (G1), the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Apprentice jockey Katie Clawson had her first career riding double Friday, winning the first race aboard Fireupthejet ($14.20) for trainer Randy Morse and the fifth race aboard Goingtogive’emhale ($36.20) for trainer James Victor Hale.
“It was something I was shooting for,” Clawson said Saturday morning.
Clawson, 20, worked as exercise rider for trainer Kellyn Gorder at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting before launching her riding career last summer. Gorder put the jockey on her first two career winners. Clawson’s first of 10 victories to date was June 17 at Churchill Downs.
Clawson finished 2016 with a 6-9-14 record from 97 starts and purse earnings of $181,647.
Clawson has a 4-4-2 record from 36 starts at Oaklawn and purse earnings of $114,326.
“Very pleased with how things have gone and the people I’m riding with and for,” Clawson said. “Hopeful that it keeps going.”
Clawson has ridden frequently at the meeting for trainer Randy Morse, winning three races.
Clawson said she decided to winter at Oaklawn because of business she cultivated last summer and fall in Kentucky with trainers like Morse.
“When I decided to come here, he was one of the first people that I called, asking if I would have horses with him,” Clawson said. “I knew I couldn’t make it out here if I didn’t have someone to back me.”
Clawson is named on eight horses the next three days, including three for Morse.
That’s a Rap
Perennial Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell said Thursday afternoon that he was leaning toward starting Domain’s Rap in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses. He pulled the trigger Friday morning, entering the 9-year-old gelding in the 1 1/16-mile race that is headlined by Grade 1 winner Gun Runner.
Domain’s Rap won the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 13 – Oaklawn’s first major two-turn race for older horses – and was a sharp Feb. 4 allowance/optional claiming winner.
“Gun Runner’s going to be the favorite and be tough to beat, but the old horse loves this track, so we’re probably going to give him a shot,” Caldwell said. “He’s doing good.”
Ramon Vazquez will be aboard the son of Cherokee Rap. Vazquez, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider this year, rode Domain’s Rap in his Fifth Season and allowance victories and to a runner-up finish in the 2016 Razorback.
Domain’s Rap has won six races for Caldwell and trainer Federico Villafranco since being claimed for $10,000 in November 2015 at Remington Park.
Caldwell is well on his way to a fourth consecutive owner’s title at Oaklawn with a meet-high 14 victories through the first 22 days of racing.
Also entered in the 1 1/16-mile Razorback are Blue Tone, Smack Smack, Hawaakom, Chief of Staff, Dazzling Gem and Goats Town.
Probable post time for the Razorback, the seventh of 10 races, is 4:09 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m. The Razorback shares the card with the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.
Entered in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest are Cool Arrow, Silver Dust, Uncontested, Lookin At Lee, Rowdy the Warrior, Cu Rahy, Warrior’s Club, Petrov, Dilettante, Hence, One Liner, P C Cowboy and Chief Know It All.
Probable post time for the Southwest, which goes as race 9, is 5:09 p.m. (Central).
Oaklawn’s annual $55,000 progressive cash giveaway promotion is Monday.
Back to Work
Ivan Fallunovalot, under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, posted a 5-furlong bullet work (:59.60) over a fast track Saturday morning in advance of a scheduled start in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 11.
The multiple stakes-winning sprinter breezed about 15 minutes after the track opened for trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs. Clockers caught Ivan Fallunovalot galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.
“Everything went good,” Howard said. “Cooled out fine.”
Ivan Fallunovalot, in his 7-year-old debut, finished fourth in the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 4. The gelding had won the King Cotton the previous two years and had never finished worse than second in seven previous starts at Oaklawn.
Whitmore, who has never lost in four career sprint starts, is scheduled to work Sunday morning for the 6-furlong Hot Springs, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said. He was a Jan. 15 third-level allowance/optional claiming winner in his 4-year-old debut.
The gelding covered 6 furlongs in 1:08.81, the fastest time ever for that distance in January at Oaklawn.
Whitmore has never started in a sprint stake.
Despite light rain, the track was rated fast for workouts Saturday morning. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss worked a half-mile in :50 after the renovation break Saturday morning for trainer Ingrid Mason. … Ohio-bred star Rivers Run Deep worked 6 furlongs in 1:14.20 after the break Saturday morning for 2015 Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman. … Trainer Mike Lauer won consecutive races Friday, taking the second with Fervent ($23.40) and third with Point After ($22.80). Lauer, Indiana Grand’s second-leading trainer last year, also won consecutive races Feb. 3 (early daily double) and has four victories at the meeting. … Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading jockey in 2000, won two races Friday. Court, 56, was aboard Fervent and won the fourth race aboard Strawberry Bomb ($8.80) for trainer Tom Swearingen. Court ($99,094,978) is trying to become the 50th jockey to reach $100 million in career North American purse earnings, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Court (4,009) ranks No. 70 in career North American victories, according to Equibase. … Someday Soon, a powerful front-running first-level allowance/optional claiming winner Sunday is pointing for the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 11, trainer Will VanMeter said Saturday morning. … VanMeter said his promising Arkansas-bred 3-year-old filly, Dutch Parrot, a Jan. 15 maiden winner against state-breds, is under consideration for several races the next few weeks, including Friday’s $100,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes for state-bred females at 6 furlongs. … Trainer Mark Danner said multiple stakes winner She Mabee Wild is under consideration for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 18 after a front-running allowance/optional claiming victory Feb. 11. …. Danner is scheduled to send out first-time starter Conquest Archie, a 3-year-old Arch colt, in Saturday’s 10th race for longtime client Nancy Pierce of Hot Springs. Purchased for $45,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, Conquest Archie is a half-brother to multiple Oaklawn stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Secret Circle. … Oaklawn surpassed $2 million in claims at the meeting Friday, the 22nd day of the scheduled 57-day season. There have been 163 claims totaling $2,038,000 at the meeting. … Retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1983-1994, was a press box visitor Friday.