Gun Runner to breeze Monday with Preakness status pending; Dazzling Gem still on fence after Sunday work
Edited Preakness press release
The Preakness (G1) status of Gun Runner, the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) third-place finisher, will remain undecided until after the Candy Ride colt works a half-mile Monday at Churchill Downs.
“And we’ll see how he comes out of that Tuesday,” said David Fiske, longtime racing and bloodstock manager for co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds.
Trainer Steve Asmussen is famous for his “easy half-miles” the Monday before a race, with 50 seconds frequently being the time. Asked for the ‘over-under’ on what Gun Runner’s clocking would be, Fiske quipped, “I’d say if the over-under is 49 4/5, I’d take the under.”
Fiske said it will likely be a last-minute decision on the Preakness, with Asmussen having reservations on Tex Sutton equine charter flights to Baltimore both Tuesday and Wednesday. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas will be up for the work.
Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s top assistant, said the stable is running Oaklawn allowance winner Cced in Friday’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2), stakes-winner Simple Surprise and Oaklawn allowance winner One True Kiss in the $150,000 Adena Springs’ Miss Preakness and Churchill Downs’ Dogwood (G3) winner Super Majesty in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3).
In other Preakness news from Churchill, Steve Landers Racing’s Dazzling Gem worked a half-mile in :49.60 over a fast track Sunday morning, but trainer Brad Cox did not commit to a start in Saturday’s Preakness.
“No decision has been made nor has a rider been confirmed,” said Cox, who is weighing the Preakness or Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard as Dazzling Gem’s next start. “We’ll have a decision in the next day or two.”
With exercise rider Fernando Espinoza aboard, Dazzling Gem was one of the first horses on the fast track after it opened for training a little before 6 a.m. (EDT). Working on his own, Dazzling Gem produced fractions of :12.60 and :24.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.80 and six furlongs in 1:16.40. The work was the 16th fastest of 30 at the distance.
“I thought he worked really well; nice and steady,” Cox said. “He is fit and I didn’t want to do a lot with him. It was just a maintenance work.”
It was the third work for Dazzling Gem at Churchill Downs since a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Dazzling Gem is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.
Assistant trainer Julie Clark personally was hauling Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator to Pimlico Sunday in a big trailer that also transported a 2-year-old, according to the Churchill Downs stable office. Exaggerator left the grounds about 6 a.m., not long after four other horses trained by Keith Desormeaux, including stakes horses Swipe and Right There, left for Maryland on a Sallee van, according to stable office records. Right There was entered Sunday in Friday’s $150,000 Miss Preakness.
Exaggerator arrived at Pimlico about 4:40 p.m. Sunday afternoon after an "uneventful" van ride, Clarke reported. His Monday activity will involve walking the shedrow and possibly paddock schooling.
William Pacella, Frank Jones Jr. and Frank Shoop’s Cherry Wine walked the shedrow at trainer Dale Romans’ barn at Churchill Downs a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.60.
“He came out of the work fine,” said Romans’ assistant Baldemar Bahena.
Cherry Wine is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Wednesday.
Speedway Stable’s Collected returned to the track at Churchill Downs Sunday morning to jog under exercise rider George Alvarez.
Trained by six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert, Collected had walked Saturday following a seven-furlong work of 1:24.80 on Friday.
A two-time Grade 3 winner, Collected is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Tuesday.
Jacks or Better Farm’s Fellowship galloped a mile and a half at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Brian O’Leary.
Trained by Mark Casse, who posted his 2,000th career victory Sunday, Fellowship is scheduled to depart by van Monday afternoon for Pimlico.
“He will train in the morning and then will have the day off Tuesday,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father.
Laoban walked the shedrow at Keeneland Sunday morning, the day after working 1:14.40 for six furlongs in his final timed breeze for the Preakness.
“He came out of it good. We’re going to go back to the track Tuesday morning,” trainer Eric Guillot said. “He’ll leave around 11 (a.m.) from Louisville. We should be there (Pimlico) in the afternoon.”
The $260,000 son of Uncle Mo, who finished fourth in the Blue Grass (G1) was on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Derby but failed to get into the race. Laoban, who has run with blinkers in four of his five career starts, will be without them for the Preakness.
He will also be ridden by the fourth different jockey in as many races as Guillot named Ricardo Santana Jr. as the new rider for this race. Laoban’s five races have all been on different race tracks, so Guillot isn’t concerned about shipping.
“If you have a good horse, you’ve got to travel,” said Guillot, who has the tall task of trying to break his colt’s maiden in the Preakness. “The race is loaded with speed and this horse is going to have to learn to be a good horse. He’s going to have to learn to sit off them a little bit.”
Laoban was third in Santa Anita’s Sham (G3) and second in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct after a pair of failed maiden tries in California as a 2-year-old.
Gun Runner photo courtesy Churchill Downs/Coady Photography