Gun Runner coming on as Horse of the Year candidate – Orange County Register

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new sheriff in town. His name is Gun Runner, and even though he’s come up empty in two races against Arrogate in his career, he’s the current frontrunner for Horse of the Year.
Back in July, before Arrogate flopped as the 1-20 favorite in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, the son of Unbridled’s Song was an odds-on choice to win Horse of the Year, an award he narrowly lost last year to California Chrome after a late-season charge came up short.
Arrogate was still the favorite after stumbling in his first race in nearly four months. Any horse can have a bad day, and Arrogate still had turned in the most impressive race of the year by overcoming a terrible start and winning the Dubai World Cup in March. He was still king of the older horses.
But then came the Pacific Classic on Aug. 19, when his late charge in the final eighth of a mile wasn’t enough to catch stablemate Collected, who vaulted into the Horse of the Year chase himself that afternoon by winning his fourth race of the year without a loss. His final time of 2:00.70 for the mile and a quarter was major league, especially considering how slow the Del Mar main track played during the summer.
So as we head into the final, decisive part of the year, we have five viable candidates for Horse of the Year — Gun Runner, Arrogate, Collected, Stellar Wind and Lady Eli, although it would take a longshot winner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4 for either of the latter two to take home the award.
The Big Three control their own destiny. No question. If one of them wins the Classic, they’ll also take home Horse of the Year.
Gun Runner is sitting pretty. Since finishing second in Dubai, he’s won three consecutive Grade I stakes — the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga. He seems to be getting stronger while Arrogate has yet to display the form that carried him to powerful victories in the Travers, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup.
“That was better than the Whitney,” jockey Florent Geroux said after Gun Runner won the Woodward by 10 1/4 lengths in a very good 1:47.43 for the mile and an eighth. “Stronger. Faster. Overall, he is just getting better … and I don’t think he is 100 percent cranked up yet. I really do think he has another step forward with him.”
Gun Runner’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, is just hoping to keep his 4-year-old son of Candy Ride happy and…

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