Last seen finishing fourth in the November 28 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, Gun Runner returned a winner in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds and jumped to the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard in the process, picking up 50 points for capturing the first race in the “Championship Season” portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, Gun Runner stalked the pace in fifth early, advanced into contention on the far turn and surged to a clear lead in midstretch. He comfortably held a couple of closers, runner-up Forevamo and third-placer Mo Tom, safe as he posted a half-length decision, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.94.

The chestnut son of Candy Ride is owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm. Gun Runner, who also picked up a point while sustaining his lone defeat in the Kentucky Jockey Club, now has a total of 51 points. He’s won three of four starts, with earnings of $306,920.

Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Gun Runner hails from an outstanding female family. The colt’s dam, the Grade 2 winning Quiet Dance, is a half-sister to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and Gun Runner’s pedigree appears well-suited for the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance on May 7.

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26 is next for Gun Runner.