Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner closed out his future Hall of Fame career on Saturday with an easy win in the $16.3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Just two days after being crowned the 2017 Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male, the Steve Asmussen-trained chestnut easily subdued 11 rivals in the richest race in the world with regular rider Florent Geroux holding the reins.
The duo gunned it out of the gate from their 10 post and immediately latched onto the outside of pacesetting Collected. Traveling well under his own power, Gun Runner drew even entering the final turn and inched away while still under a hand ride from Geroux.
As West Coast ranged up to threaten entering the lane, Geroux gave Gun Runner his signal and the five-year-old drew off to be 2 1/2 lengths clear on the wire while finishing nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:47.41.
West Coast, honored as the 2017 champion three-year-old male during the Eclipse Award ceremony on Thursday, was easily best of the rest. It was another 10 3/4 lengths back to Gunnevera, who ran in the Kentucky Derby (G1), second to West Coast in the Travers Stakes (G1) and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), all last year.
The Antonio Sano-trained Gunnevera got up to be third over Fear the Cowboy in a six-horse blanket finish. Seeking the Soul followed by a neck in fifth, 2015 Kentucky Oaks (G1) fourth-placer Stellar Wind took sixth another 2 1/4 lengths behind, Collected filled the seventh spot a neck adrift of the mare and Sharp Azteca was a nose farther back in eighth.
Completing the order under the wire were Giant Expectations, War Story, Singing Bullet and Toast of New York.
Gun Runner began his career at Churchill Downs on September 11, 2015, breaking his maiden debut by three parts of a length. He competed twice more as a juvenile, taking a Keeneland allowance and running fourth in Churchill’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
The Kentucky-bred was a major player on the Road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby, capturing the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) to kick off his sophomore season. Despite that, he was sent off at 10-1 in the Kentucky Derby but easily outran those odds to be third in the Run for the Roses.
Immediately following the Derby, Gun Runner added a front-running, 5 1/4-length victory in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) to his resume, but wouldn’t visit the winner’s circle again until closing out his sophomore campaign with a 5 3/4-length score in the Clark Handicap (G1) back at Churchill.
Sandwiched between the Matt Winn and Clark, the chestnut placed in the Travers, Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Gun Runner continued his winning ways into his four-year-old season last year with a gate-to-wire, 5 3/4-length victory in the Razorback Handicap (G3). He suffered his only loss of the season when shipping overseas and finishing second to Arrogate, last year’s inaugural Pegasus winner, in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), but has been unbeatable since returning stateside.
Gun Runner proceeded to romp in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Whitney Stakes (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic before making his final career start in this spot.
The five-year-old son of Candy Ride now heads to the breeding shed at co-owner Three Chimneys’ Versailles, Kentucky, farm with $15,988,500 in lifetime earnings and a 19-12-3-2 career mark.
Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Gun Runner is the first registered foal out of the Grade 2-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, who is a half-sister to 2005 Horse of the Year and champion older horse Saint Liam.