Razorback Handicap Winner Gun Runner Leads Stephen Foster Handicap Field

Oaklawn-raced Gun Runner will be a short-priced favorite in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Churchill Downs. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner will be making his first start since finishing second in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 25 in the United Arab Emirates.

Gun Runner began his 4-year-old campaign with a 5 ¾-length victory in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 20 at Oaklawn. He ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in a meet-best 1:40.97, which was less than a second off the track record.

Gun Runner was among 41 victories this year at Oaklawn for Asmussen, who collected his eighth training title in Hot Springs since 2007.

“Gun Runner was a completely different horse last year during his 3-year-old campaign,” said Asmussen, who won the 2008 Stephen Foster with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. “He has physically developed into a different animal. We knew with his type of running style and pedigree that he would keep getting better over time. We’re very excited to run him Saturday night. We gave him a break after he ran in Dubai and he’s been training smoothly ever since.”

Gun Runner (4-5 on the morning line for the Stephen Foster) is scheduled to break from post 3 under regular rider Florent Geroux and carry top weight of 124 pounds.

Also in the projected eight-horse field are Razorback runner-up Hawaakom and Texas Chrome, who finished sixth in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 15 at Oaklawn in his 4-year-old debut.

Five Oaklawn-raced horses have won the Stephen Foster in the last decade – Curlin (2008), Ron the Greek (2012), Fort Larned (2013), Moonshine Mullin (2014) and Noble Bird (2015).

Probable post time for the Stephen Foster, one of five stakes on an 11-race card, is 8:43 p.m. (Central).

The Stephen Foster is immediately preceded by the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Nine horses are entered, including Forever Unbridled, winner of the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) in 2016 at Oaklawn; Big World, a March 30 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn; and Tiger Moth, fourth in this year’s Apple Blossom.

Forever Unbridled will be making her first start since finishing third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. Eclipse Award-winner Stellar Wind, a troubled fourth in the race, won the Apple Blossom in her 2017 debut.
Probable post time for the Fleur de Lis is 8:09 p.m. (Central).
 
Jerry’s Girls

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is scheduled to send out two Oaklawn-raced horses in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks (G2) Saturday at Santa Anita.

It Tiz Well won the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 11 at Oaklawn. Stablemate Spooky Woods finished seventh in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 14, Oaklawn’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.

Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Summertime Oaks is 7 p.m. (Central).
 
Finish Lines

Blofeld, fourth in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2016 at Oaklawn, is entered in the $200,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2) Saturday at Churchill Downs. … Two maiden special weights graduates this year at Oaklawn, Colonelsdarktemper and Sameeha, are entered in stakes races for 3-year-olds Saturday at Churchill Downs. Colonelsdarktemper is entered in the $100,000 Matt Winn (G3), Sameeha the $100,000 Regret (G3). … Discreetness, winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds in 2016 at Oaklawn, is scheduled to make his comeback in Saturday’s third race at Churchill Downs, a sprint for $50,000 claimers. … Golden Mischief, elevated to first following the race-related disqualification of Our Majesty in the $125,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old fillies March 25 at Oaklawn, finished second in the $150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes Sunday at Belmont Park.

-30-