Gun Runner arrives for Haskell

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TwinSpires Staff

July 26th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Haskell (G1) contender Gun Runner became the first horse stabled outside of Monmouth Park to arrive at the Jersey Shore when a van carrying the Steve Asmussen-trained colt winner rolled through the stable gate at 9:20 a.m. (ET).

A “Win & You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the $1 million Haskell has been the target for Gun Runner since he finished third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The son of Twirling Candy opened 2016 with a pair of convincing wins in the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2), and the chestnut tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile Haskell with a facile tally in the June 18 Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs.

“He looked like he shipped really well,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. “His energy is good. The plan is to tack walk him tomorrow (Wednesday) to get him use to his surroundings. He will gallop over the track Thursday, Friday and Saturday and probably school in the paddock Friday.”

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Three Chimneys Farm LLC and Besilu Stables, Gun Runner will seek to turn the tables on Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who will invade from Southern California for Doug O’Neill. The 2-year-old champion will make his first appearance since sustaining his first career setback, a third in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

Gun Runner worked four furlongs in :49 3/5 at Saratoga on Monday. Regular rider Florent Geroux will be in for the mount.

The Haskell’s scheduled post time is 5:49 p.m. and will be telecast live on NBC. 

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who sent Triple Crown champion American Pharoah to a rousing 2 ¼-length score in last year’s Haskell, will try to pad his record with a ninth victory in Monmouth Park’s signature race when he brings American Freedom to the Garden State.

A winner in three of four starts, the Pulpit colt registered an excellent 103 BRIS Speed rating when posting a 4 ¾-length romp in the Iowa Derby (G3) at Prairie Meadows on July 1.

Two locally based horses will try to defend their home turf in the Haskell.

Awesome Slew exits a third place finish in his first career start around two turns, the Pegasus (G3) on June 19, for Eddie Plesa Jr. Sunny Ridge, who captured the Withers (G3) earlier this season for trainer Jason Servis, will make his first start off nearly a five month layoff.

Coady Photography/Churchill Downs