Every weekend in August, there’s a chance that we can see something special, and this past weekend didn’t disappoint. As usual, horse racing in the summer is fantastic from coast to coast. Del Mar and Saratoga took center stage, but Mountaineer also got in on the action! Let’s see who ended up as our Three Stars of the Week after yet another stakes-filled weekend.
1. Gun Runner
The beast has been UNLEASHED this year with Gun Runner, and there are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon. In fact, not even a shoe getting caught in his tail can bother him. One of his rivals lost a shoe during the stretch run of the Whitney Stakes, getting caught in Gun Runner’s tail. No problem; he carried the “extra weight” with ease to the wire in another crushing victory. He inches closer to Arrogate in the older male division with this win, and trainer Steve Asmussen hinted that the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes could be next for him.
2. American Gal
As a 2-year-old, you could tell that this horse had a world of talent, but her mind hadn’t quite caught up to her talent level. That all changed this year when she won the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park, and last Saturday she parlayed that win into a romp in the Grade 1 Test Stakes. This one was seemingly over before it even began, as she had the field at her mercy the entire way around the track. The win had to be sweet for owner Kaleem Shah, who beat his old trainer – Bob Baffert’s Faypien finished second.
After finishing second to McCraken and Irap, you could see that this horse was progressing nicely, and last Saturday, he was able to show that ever further when he captured the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby. Colonelsdarktemper had really been no match for the previously-mentioned horses, which strengthens their resumes because the result of the West Virginia Derby never was in much doubt. The wire-to-wire win gives the combination of jockey Jon Court and trainer Jinks Fires another big 3-year-old victory. They previously teamed up to have success with Archarcharch a few years ago.