Gun Runner, Untapable, Eagle work for Foster night starts
The Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Gun Runner, third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and 2014 champion three-year-old filly Untapable both breezed a half-mile on Monday for their respective starts in the $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) and $200,000 Fleur de Lis H. (G2) on Saturday night at Churchill Downs.
A son of Candy Ride, Gun Runner went his half in :50.20 recording fractions of :13.60 and :25.40. Stablemate Untapable went :50 before recording splits of :12.80 and :24.80. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas worked both horses.
"They both went nice and smooth halves," Asmussen said. "I feel like we're set and on go for Saturday."
Asmussen was still relishing Saturday's significant victory by Creator in the Belmont S. (G1), which gave the soon-to-be-enshrined Hall of Fame trainer his first win in the third jewel of the Triple Crown. His other win in an American classic came when Curlin won the 2007 Preakness (G1).
"It was extremely exciting, it really was," Asmussen said of Creator's victory. "The way the race unfolded for him to redeem himself from the Kentucky Derby was very satisfying. For me, the reason I was so concerned with the pace had a lot to do with the significant factor in Curlin not winning it."
Asmussen said that Creator would leave to get some time off at WinStar Farm on Monday afternoon and would be under consideration for the $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on August 27.
Now Asmussen's attention turns to Saturday night.
Prior to his third-place effort in the Kentucky Derby behind Nyquist and eventual Preakness winner Exaggerator, Gun Runner was victorious in Fair Grounds' two major preps for the Kentucky Derby, the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2). Should he exit the Matt Winn in good order, Asmussen plans on sending Gun Runner to the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 31.
"I think he's proved his worth with what he's done this year with the Louisiana Derby win and the third in the Kentucky Derby, and I think that this is a very good bridge for him to get to the Haskell," Asmussen said.
Untapable has not found the winner's circle since a win in last year's Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park, but boasts a spotless three-for-three record at Churchill Downs. The five-year-old daughter of Tapit made her career debut at Churchill Downs a winning one as a two-year-old before going on to win that year's Pocahontas (G2). The following year, she won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) as the 2-1 favorite.
"That was why we wanted to run her back here in Saturday's race," Asmussen said. "It has been too long since we've won with her and I think we just need to take our best shot at winning and I think the significance of it being a 'Win And You're In' race for the Breeders Cup Distaff (G1) adds to it."
Meanwhile, Eagle recorded his final work for Saturday night's $500,000 Stephen Foster H. (G1) with a half-mile breeze in :49.60 under exercise rider Joel Dominguez on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Candy Ride in splits of :24.20 and :37 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.80.
"Nice and smooth," trainer Neil Howard said. "It was just an easy half. He galloped out nice and cooled out good. He's pretty much been on a steady schedule to say the least so this was nothing complicated."
Eagle, who captured the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland two back, was most recently the runner-up to Majestic Harbor in the Alysheba (G2) on the May 6 Kentucky Oaks undercard.
(Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)