Gun Runner Becomes Legendary

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D.S. Williamson

January 31st, 2018

On Jan. 27, Gun Runner added the Pegasus World Cup to his list of accomplishments. The best horse in the world didn't seem to break a sweat when holding off his top foes in the Pegasus World Cup. With the victory, Gun Runner jumped from tenth on the all-time earnings list to second on the all-time earnings list.

He also did something that his former rival, the great Arrogate, couldn't do. He came out on top. First, I analyze the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. Then, I take a look at the race that put Gun Runner on the path to greatness.

Gun Runner, a diminutive son of Candy Ride, wasn't supposed to be this good. I thought he was a miler after losing gobs of money on him in the Kentucky Derby. Yep. I had settled on Gun Runner about 5 minutes before the Derby gates opened. Nyquist ended up winning that Derby. What's crazy is that the top 4 betting interests finished first, second, third, and fourth.

I did pay attention to Gun Runner after that. But, instead of backing the amazing equine again, I tried to beat him in every race thereafter. Not smart. Not smart at all. One thing I will admit is that even though I lost money pretty much every time Gun Runner ran, I felt a smidgen of handicapping pride every time he won.

Turns out, I was right. Gun Runner was the best horse of his generation. I just didn't have the stones to stick with the Steve Asmussen trainee.

No race better sums up Gun Runner's greatness than his last, a beat down of his competition in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. Without hesitation, Gun Runner took the lead. Instead of fighting for the lead, both Collected and Sharp Azteca pulled back. Yielding an easy lead to a horse like Gun Runner leads to a loss every time. That's what happened. The great Gun Runner got a quarter-mile in 23.41. He got a half-mile by 46.61. He got three-quarters in 1:10.21.

All Gun Runner had to do was do what he always does, speed up in the stretch. West Coast provided a valiant effort. He was no match for the best horse in the world.

Gun Runner's march to legendary status began in the 2017 Dubai World Cup. Let's be honest. Arrogate provided one of the greatest performances in horse racing history. To run down the equine that turned out to be the best horse in the world, Arrogate pretty much ruined the rest of his career. There's no way Arrogate could have bounced back from such a stunning performance.

For Gun Runner, the performance led to a different outcome. At times, a smart horse can perform so well that it takes the performance and becomes better off it. Arrogate's next step performance happened in the 2016 Travers Stakes. For Gun Runner, the next step performance was in the 2017 Dubai World Cup. I really believe Gun Runner saw Arrogate run past him. Then, he decided that it was never going to happen again.

Have a great retirement, Gun Runner. You deserve it.