Gunnevera to return to Saratoga for Woodward

Aug 20, 2018 Kellie Reilly,

Multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire and 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) competitor Gunnevera is on course for a return to top-level company in the September 1 Woodward S. (G1) at Saratoga.

Eighth behind fellow Derby alum Thunder Snow when suffering a badly bloodied hoof in the March 31 Dubai World Cup (G1) , he was sidelined for more than four months.

Trainer Antonio Sano got him back sound and fit for an August 10 allowance at Gulfstream Park , over the same track and distance as his Fountain of Youth (G2) romp, and Gunnevera flaunted his class.

The 1-10 favorite was unhurried early, last in the compact field of five, through leisurely fractions of :24.58 and :48.32. Jockey Edgard Zayas began to ask him to pick up as they passed six furlongs in 1:11.66, and Gunnevera uncorked a slingshot move on the far turn.

Rapidly taking control, the son of Dialed In opened up by 6 1/2 lengths. He finished so fast off the moderate pace, clocking 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.03, that he earned a career-best 112 BRIS Late Pace rating.

“Just at the three-eighths pole I kind of tapped him on the back because he was kind of lazy,” Zayas said. “I just wanted to make sure he was there and I tapped him on the back a couple times, one or two times, and after that it was hand ride him. He was moving beautiful.”

Sano was understandably delighted.

“I’m so happy with my horse coming back after having the time off,” the trainer said. “The rider, Edgard Zayas, said the horse is 100 percent.

“The horse will work here for the next two weeks and then, maybe August 24 or 25, he will go to Saratoga.

“He likes Saratoga’s track. Two races – a first and a second.”

Both of Gunnevera’s starts at the “Spa” came in major races, a victory in the 2016 Saratoga Special (G2) and a runner-up effort to champion West Coast in last summer’s Travers (G1). Each time he shipped north following a win at Gulfstream , so the pattern holds again going into the Woodward.

Another strong performance at Saratoga would set him up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, where he’s eligible to improve on his dead-heat fifth in last year’s running at Del Mar.

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