Gun Runner 'worked beautifully' as Preakness decision awaits; Dazzling Gem to Sir Barton

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TwinSpires Staff

May 16th, 2016

Edited Preakness press release

Winchell Thoroughbreds, Three Chimneys Farm and Besilu Stables’ Gun Runner worked a half-mile in :51.40 Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

With exercise rider Carlos Rosas aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner posted an initial split of :25.40 and, galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.60. The work was the 38th fastest of 42 at the distance over a fast track.

“I thought he worked beautifully; he moved well,” Asmussen said of the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner who finished third behind Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby (G1). “I am very happy with him physically (after the Derby). He has a good attitude and a good appetite and I hope it continues that way.”

No decision has been made on Gun Runner’s possible Preakness participation.

“I will speak with the owners and go from there,” Asmussen said.

While Gun Runner’s Preakness decision has yet to be made, the connections of Dazzling Gem are now looking to Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton rather than the Triple Crown’s middle jewel.

Trainer Brad Cox on Monday highlighted the advantages of the easier spot for Dazzling Gem, who was fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent effort.

“That’s where we’re leaning,” the Kentucky-based Cox said. “Nyquist isn’t in there. That has a lot to do with it.”

A winner of his first two career starts this winter at Oaklawn Park, Dazzling Gem breezed a half-mile in :49.60 Sunday at Churchill Downs. After back-to-back races at nine furlongs, including a third to Gun Runner in the Louisiana Derby (G2), the Misremembered colt cuts back to a distance where he won February 13 in his first try against winners.

“Honestly right now it might not be a bad thing to shorten this horse up a little bit. His last two races have been a mile and an eighth,” Cox said. “I’m not saying he can’t handle a mile and an eighth but he certainly didn’t jump out that he wanted even more ground going a mile and three-sixteenths, so we’ll back him up a little bit and it’s softer competition in the Sir Barton as opposed to the Preakness.”

Other horses being pointed to the Sir Barton include Donegal Moon, Flash McCaul, Gettysburg, Moon King and possibly Bobcat.

“I think this will be a great stepping-stone to bigger and better things, hopefully, the rest of the year,” Cox said. “I think this is the most realistic spot for the horse and the best spot as far as moving forward.”

Gun Runner photo (from before Derby) by Rickelle Nelson/