Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Gun Runner wins Breeders’ Cup

AFP, DEL MAR, California

Gun Runner, ridden by Florent Geroux, gallops ahead of the pack to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Day 2 of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship on Saturday in Del Mar, California.

Photo: AFP

Gun Runner on Saturday won the US$6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in dominant style, leading from wire-to-wire as defending champion Arrogate disappointed in his final race.

The 2km race on the dirt track at Del Mar — hosting the US$28 million Breeders’ Cup extravaganza for the first time — was billed as a final showdown between the Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner and Bob Baffert’s Arrogate.

Arrogate, who sent California Chrome into retirement with a defeat in last year’s Classic at Santa Anita, chased down Gun Runner for a thrilling win in the Dubai World Cup in March.

However, he had been unimpressive since, in fourth place and runner-up finishes in Del Mar, and he was never really in the hunt in a race that saw Gun Runner, with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, spring from the fifth stall and power to a fourth straight victory — all Grade One stakes.

“He’s just a beast,” Geroux said of Gun Runner, who fended off a challenge from Baffert’s Collected to win by two-and-a-fourth lengths. Another Baffert three-year-old, West Coast, was third.

“I was feeling pretty good, honestly,” Geroux said of the pressure applied by Collected. “My horse was very comfortable from there and flopping his ears back and forth, it shows a sign that he was relaxing nicely for me while going quick.”

Collected’s jockey, Martin Garcia, said he might have had a chance if he could have gotten inside.

“I wanted to get to the rail and save ground, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I’m proud of him, though. He gave me what he had.”

War Story was fourth, and Arrogate, who broke awkwardly toward the rail from the first stall, was in a dead heat for fifth with Gunnevera.

“My other horses ran great,” Baffert said. “I hate to make any excuses for the big horse, but he’s just not the horse he was. When he broke, he broke flat-footed and broke in and he weaved in. He lost a lot of momentum there.”

While Baffert and jockey Mike Smith spoke of Arrogate’s inability to deal with the Del Mar dirt track, Baffert said the lackluster performance was a sign that it was time to send the US$17.4 million winner into retirement.

“He’s just losing interest and I think that’s what it is,” Baffert said.

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