Gun Runner, Creator post "ideal" works for Derby
Edited Press Release
Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders Creator and Gun Runner's Monday morning breezes were "ideal" according to trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent both horses out for serious workouts during Churchill Downs' special 8:30-8:45 a.m. (EDT) training window, which is exclusive to possible starters in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Gun Runner, a 4 1/2-length winner of the March 26 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds last time out, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 with regular rider Florent Geroux in the irons. Working in company with stablemate Gold Hawk, the son of Candy Ride produced fractions of :12.40, :24.60, :36.40, :48.20, and :59.80 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25 and one mile in 1:39.
Creator, who put in his first serious workout since a 1 1/4-length triumph in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, went five furlongs in 1:02.40 with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. up. Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Tapit in eighth-mile splits of :12.60, :25, :37.60 and :49.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.20 and seven furlongs in 1:28.80.
"Their works were ideal for what we think that they need," Asmussen said. "I'm extremely proud of the shape that both of these horses are in going into the Derby. I think that our team has done wonderful with them; I'm very proud of the guys to get them in this position."
Asmussen was looking for "more of a blow" with Gun Runner's work Monday morning, which was his fourth breeze since his Louisiana Derby victory.
"We worked Gun Runner last Monday and me, [assistant trainer] Scott [Blasi] and Florent [Geroux] thought that he needed a little bit more," Asmussen said. "Saturday they started the Derby break training; I think that the racetrack is not as tight, just freshly harrowed. We thought that we would get a blow out of him today and that's exactly what we got out of the work."
Three starts ago, Creator broke his maiden on the sixth attempt. Asmussen believes that the horse is beginning to develop nicely.
"Creator is coming around at the right time," Asmussen said. "I really like his focus and how professional he's been the last two to three weeks. We're just trying to keep him in the rhythm that he was in between the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby. I was extremely pleased for him to maintain his focus as well as he did today with as much as there is to look at here the couple of weeks leading up to the Derby. I definitely think that he is turning into an excellent racehorse.
"I think pedigree wise he is getting good at the right time. He's always been talented. He did lack some focus and Mr. [Kenny] Trout and Elliott [Walden] had all the patience in the world of letting him come around. Elliott always had the vision of him getting good when it mattered. The first couple of turf starts were his lack of speed early. I felt that talking with Elliott, we thought that it would not deter him from future racing, to just leave there and get covered up with dirt and not really know what happened. He said that they went the same path with Drosselmeyer. His first couple of races were on turf, hopefully it works out as well.
Asmussen discussed how different his Derby duo is in terms on training and running styles.
"They are definitely a compliment to each other," Asmussen said. "Just speaking with Elliott after [Creator's] work. As handy as Creator is in the morning and the way he goes to the pole and breaks out, it's kind of surprising with his lack of speed coming from the gate, but it is very effective for him. We're comfortable with that. That being said Gun Runner is a quick horse, extremely athletic and capable of being very close to any pace. The key with him is how he gets under the wire the first time. I think over half of the field is eliminated in the first quarter of a mile in the Derby."
Overall, Asmussen is soaking in the Derby experience.
"Right now it's a very proud time," Asmussen said. "I'm watching the fillies and the colts train in their colored towels and looking at the physical shape that they're in and how they're traveling I'm extremely proud of the horses and the team that has got them in this condition."
(Gun Runner photo: Coady Photography)