Arms Runner steps up

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 22nd, 2017

The Affirmed Stakes (G3), led by Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Battle of Midway, attracted just five sophomores at Santa Anita on Saturday and the favorite looks very tough given his resume. But I have more interest in a horse that has caught my eye in both of his lifetime runs, Desert Code hero ARMS RUNNER.

Trained by Peter Miller, son of Overdriven brought a hefty sum of $525,000 at Ocala in the spring of 2016 and the purchase could turn out to be well worth it if his first two starts are an indication. Florida-bred colt was a solid debut winner in a race that might have been more impressive to the eye than on paper, and he showed his class in running down a clear one in his stakes debut to score going away with seemingly plenty left in the tank. And the youngster encountered traffic, too!

Gray colt has some hurdles to leap in order to win the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed, but I think he will be up to the task. Arms Runner will make his initial dirt start and stretch out to two turns against a formidable rival, but he’s trained solely on the dirt with a recent 6-furlong bullet drill at San Luis Rey (1:11 3/5) and is out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup, suggesting 8 ½ furlongs could be within his scope.

Regular rider Norberto Arroyo said after the Desert Code, “He went around them easily. I’m confident he’ll be able to stretch out to a mile, no problem.”

The up-and-coming sophomore received an ideal outside draw in a compact field and could potentially be on the front end if Arroyo opts to send the tactical sort early.

With a lot of room for a later-developing sophomore to burst onto the scene in the second half of 2017, Arms Runner might just be the one.