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HOT SPRINGS, AR (Monday, Feb. 20, 2017) – Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner served notice that he intends to be a major player in the handicap division this year with his 5 ¾ length victory in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), the co-feature on Oaklawn’s Presidents’ Day card.
Two races before One Liner won the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds with Kentucky Derby aspirations, Gun Runner made a mockery out of the Razorback field in his four-year-old debut. He was sent to the lead by jockey Florent Geroux and from there he was never seriously challenged as he galloped through early fractions of :23 and :46 4/5 for the first half mile. The heavy 1-5 favorite was never asked by his jockey, who hand rode him to the wire. The final time of 1:40 4/5 for 1 1/16 miles was the fastest Razorback time since Lost Code won the race in 1988.
Hawaakom finished second, 2 ¾ lengths in front of Domain’s Rap. Goats Town, Smack Smack and Blue Tone completed the order of finish. Dazzing Gem and Chief of Staff were scratched.
“Last year we learned to let Gun Runner just be Gun Runner and the success has come to him,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I’m very thankful to Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys for the opportunity to race this horse again this year. With his pedigree and his Grade 1 win last year, it’s very sporting of them to give us another year.”
Gun Runner, by Candy Ride, improved his career record to 13-7-2-2 in his first start since winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap over older horses last fall at Churchill Downs and has now earned $2,337,800. He returned $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10.
Live racing resume Thursday at Oaklawn with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
Winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner – “Last year we learned to let Gun Runner just be Gun Runner and the success has come to him. I’m very thankful to Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys for the opportunity to race this horse again this year. With his pedigree and his Grade 1 win last year, it’s very sporting of them to give us another year.
“He’s a fast horse. We’re very happy to get this race done. We’ve always been confident that this horse would get better with time.”
Winning jockey Florent Geroux, Gun Runner – “This horse just gets better and better. He was in every fight last year and he feels even better this year. I’m hoping the sky’s the limit for him.”
Jockey Miguel Mena aboard 2nd place finisher Hawaakom: “He (Gun Runner) ran well. We worked out a nice trip, and he was just second best today. He is a really nice horse. Shows up every time and picks up time and picks up a check. Not disappointed at all, he ran well.”
Trainer Wes Hawley, second with Hawaakom: “I wish somebody could have gone with Gun Runner, but our horse ran great.”
Jockey Ramon Vazquez aboard 3rd place finisher Domain’s Rap: “He (Domain’s Rap) ran his race. I am so proud of the horse. He is a 9-year old that always tries hard.”
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