No scoring races were offered last weekend as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on October 31, which had its points doubled this year toward a Kentucky Derby berth (now 20-8-4-2 to top four respective finishers), represents the lone event remaining this month, but a couple of 2-year-olds from Saturday, October 17 merit attention going forward.
Annual Report and Gun Runner each improved to 2-for-2 with good-looking wins, the former capturing the 6-furlong Futurity at Belmont Park and the latter posting a 1 1/16-mile allowance tally at Keeneland.
Annual Report figures to be pointed toward the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on November 28 by Kiaran McLaughlin and Gun Runner likely has the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on the same day as a target for Steve Asmussen. Both races are worth 10-4-2-1 points toward a spot in a projected 20-horse Kentucky Derby field on May 7, 2016.
Despite making his first two starts at 5 ½ and 6 furlongs, Annual Report is bred to thrive at longer distances.
He’s from the next-to-last crop of well-known Ohio-bred Harlan’s Holiday, who won major races such as the Blue Grass, Florida Derby and Donn H. before embarking on a solid stud career that included 2012 champion 2-year-old and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby. Pension, the dam of Annual Report, is a further source of stamina being a daughter of 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up and top sire Seeking the Gold.
Annual Report rolled to a 5 ¼-length win at Parx in his September 20 career debut. He showed signs of immaturity while racing erratically at times during the Futurity, but the Godolphin Racing-owned youngster kicked powerfully for home in the latter stages, drawing away to a 1 ½-length decision. The bay colt hasn’t lit up the teletimer in either start, but his Futurity BRIS Speed rating (86) increased nicely from the first start and his numbers are eligible to improve significantly as he continues to develop and stretches out in distance.
Gun Runner stalked a moderate pace and had to wait for running room leaving the far turn before offering a smart turn of foot to easily prove best, winning by a convincing two-length margin. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds & Three Chimneys Farm, the chestnut colt narrowly captured his first career outing, a one-turn mile maiden race at Churchill Downs on September 11, and moved forward nicely the second time out as many Asmussen-trained horses do.
Similar to Annual Report, Gun Runner’s 85 Speed rating doesn’t worry me; the pace was slow and he’ll likely run faster in upcoming starts. The son of Candy Ride is bred for the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance; his dam, Quiet Dancer, is by Giant’s Causeway and counts 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam as a half-brother.
Annual Report and Gun Runner are exciting 2-year-olds who could make an impact in upcoming Road to the Kentucky Derby scoring races.