By Ryan Martin —-
* Gun Runner, Seeking The Soul Resume Pegasus World Cup Preparations
* Mr. Misunderstood, Hallie Belle Look Ahead Following Saturday’s Stakes Victories
GUN RUNNER, SEEKING THE SOUL RESUME PEGASUS WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS
Gun Runner; All photos by Hodges Photography
Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner logged another workout for the Grade I $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27 when he breezed six furlongs in 1:10.60 on Sunday, Dec. 31 over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track. The move was the fastest of six works at the three-quarters distance.
The Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm-owned son of Candy Ride (Arg) went to the track at 6:10 am on Sunday morning with exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard and worked in tandem with stable mate Gettysburg. Fair Grounds clockers caught Gun Runner in eighth-mile fractions of 24.40, 37.60, 47.40, 58.20 before galloping out seven-eighths in 1:24.40 and one mile in 1:39.20.
“He worked super, he’s special,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “Glad we got in today. The weather has been a little iffy.”
Asmussen stated that his five-time Grade I winner would likely work twice at the Fair Grounds before shipping to south Florida. Both of his future works are slated for the following two Sundays “if the weather lets us”.
Gun Runner earned his first Grade I win in last year’s edition of the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. He then kicked off his stellar 4-year-old campaign in Oaklawn Park’s Gr. III Razorback Stakes, which he won by 5 ¾ lengths. He then went overseas for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse where reigning Horse of the Year Arrogate handed him his only loss of the year. Since then, he has remained unbeaten and secured four Grade I victories: a seven-length win in Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster Handicap, and a pair of wins at Saratoga in the Whitney by 5¼ lengths and the Woodward by 10¼ lengths before a 2¼ length win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
Following the renovation break on Sunday morning, Charles Fipke’s Seeking The Soul took another step toward his start in the Pegasus World Cup and breezed a half-mile in :48 with exercise rider Emerson Chavez up.
Trained by Dallas Stewart, the son of Perfect Soul (Ire) won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25 last out.
“He worked great,” Stewart said. “He came back strong, looked strong. I’m very happy with him.”
MR. MISUNDERSTOOD, HALLIE BELLE LOOK AHEAD FOLLOWING SATURDAY’S STAKES VICTORIES
Trainer Brad Cox was all smiles on Sunday morning following Mr. Misunderstood’s eighth victory over grass in Saturday’s Woodchopper Stakes.
“He obviously likes the grass and he’s been a fun horse this year,” Cox said. “I don’t think that I’ve had another horse that I’ve won this many races with. He’s definitely been good to us and it looked like he came out of the race well this morning so it’s onward and upward.
Cox went on to say that the Gr. III $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap on Feb. 17 would be “the logical spot, moving forward” for the son of Archarcharch.
Following the Woodchopper, Mr. Misunderstood has now won five straight races, all of which were stakes events on the turf. He previously scored victories in Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby Prelude Stakes on Aug. 5 and the Super Derby on Sept. 9. Following his pair of triumphs over the Shreveport oval, he shipped back to his home base at Churchill Downs to take the Jefferson Cup on Sept. 30 followed by the Gr. III Commonwealth Turf on Nov. 11, his lone graded stakes triumph.
Like Mr. Misunderstood, Godolphin Racing LLC’s Pago Stakes winner Hallie Belle also will likely see more stakes action over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course next out according to trainer Mike Stidham.
“Obviously she turns four so she’ll have to run against older horses now,” Stidham said “So we’ll take a look at the races the filly and mare turf stakes that come up here.”
The Pago Hop was the third straight victory for the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who entered Saturday’s race off of an allowance win over the Fair Grounds lawn on Nov. 24 after a six-length maiden win over the Keeneland lawn in October.