Gun Runner ended his racing career with style in Saturday’s 2018 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, winning the $16 million prize, and with five consecutive Grade 1 victories under his belt.
Last year, this four-year-old American Thoroughbred finished second in the Dubai World Cup, then went on to win the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Stakes, Woodward Stakes, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was ranked third in the world with a rating of 127 on the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, and he also won American Horse of the Year honours in 2017.
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Gun Runner was in the difficult 10 post, making it much harder for him to win this 1 1/8-mile race, because of the very short run to the first turn. However, jockey Florent Geroux skilfully sent his horse out of the gate and to the front, settling in behind only Collected until the middle of the far turn.
That’s when Gun Runner took the lead and although it seemed as if West Coast would challenge him, by mid-stretch it was clear that this incredible horse was not planning on being defeated. Gun Runner finished the race 2½ lengths in front of West Coast.
“I’m so impressed for him to come through like he did and overcome the draw,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “I’m just so proud of the horse. What a dream come true.”
“He has improved with every opportunity. Even when he didn’t have success, he moved forward from it. I’m so pleased to be in his presence. The memory will be with us forever.”
Gun Runner is done racing now, and can look forward to the long career as stallion. Gun Runner’s retirement, begs the question as to who will carry the torch as the next best race horse. One of the best bets is certainly West Coast, who finished second 10¾ lengths in front of third-place Gunnevera. Fear the Cowboy finished in fourth place, followed by Seeking The Soul and Stellar Wind, who came back from retirement after the Breeders’ Cup.
“West Coast came with a huge run,” said his trainer Bob Baffert said. “Turning for home I thought Gun Runner might be a little empty but his tank is so big and he just kept going. He’s just such a great horse.”
“They were going right along and I was thinking with West Coast, maybe this was my turn. It could happen; a new sheriff in town. Gun Runner didn’t want any part of that. He was going to win this race.”