Is Gun Runner the Best Horse in the United States?

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D.S. Williamson

August 14th, 2017

Gun Runner showed up big time in the Whitney Stakes. He demolished a decent group of older horses. Arrogate lost in the San Diego to horses that had resumes that weren't even close to his.

Check out my comparison of the two heavyweight equines in the handicap division.


How Bad was Arrogate's San Diego Run?

Before getting into that, Arrogate is a go for the Pacific Classic. He's worked well since the run in the San Diego. Bob Baffert's going to tighten the screws. He should be ready to roll. The question is how much that's going to matter.

My biggest issue with Arrogate's performance in the San Diego is it seemed like he mailed it in. Arrogate had some fire to him last year. That's why it took so long for Bob Baffert to get him going. He showed absolutely no fire in the San Diego.

He was like that employee that's just burnt out with his job. Arrogate seemed like a horse that wanted a change of pace. It was a here we go again, lackadaisical, attitude. I saw Silver Charm do the same thing in the Santa Anita Handicap. He didn't even seem to care that his biggest rival, Free House, had kicked it into gear.

Charm just ran one-paced around the track. Racehorses are professional athletes. Sometimes, an athlete just becomes tired, more mentally than physically, of being professional athletes. If Arrogate has hit that wall, forget it. He'll never run the same way again.

It doesn't mean he can't. It just means he doesn't care to.

How Good was Gun Runner's Whitney Stakes Run?

Gun Runner's lead in the Whitney wasn't that awe-inspiring. What was is that he's trained by Steve Asmussen, and he won at Saratoga. Up until the Whitney Stakes, Asmussen hadn't won a race at the Graveyard of Champions during the entire meet.

I believe Steve was 0 for 20, or worse, before Gun Runner's Whitney win. That tells me how special Gun Runner is. Asmussen trains some talented horses. Gun Runner broke the losing streak at Saratoga. He did it in style.

I believe Gun Runner is a special horse. He might be the best horse Steve Asmussen has trained since Rachel Alexandra in her three-year-old season. He's the best male horse Asmussen has trained since Curlin.

Who's Better? Arrogate or Gun Runner?

I'm going with Gun Runner. Arrogate must prove that his heart's still in racing. I'm not sure if he does that in the Pacific Classic. Accelerate, who dominated the San Diego, may or may not prefer 1 1/4 miles. If Arrogate runs by Accelerate in the P. Classic, I still won't be convinced that he's back unless the final time is mind-blowing.

There's another danger Baffert might face with Arrogate. What if he just doesn't like Del Mar? Lots of horses detest Del Mar. Maybe, it has something to do with the weather. Maybe, it has something to do with the smell of the sea.

The problem for Arrogate if he doesn't like Del Mar is that this year's Breeders' Cup is where the Turf Meets the Surf. On August 19, we're going to find out if the son of Unbridled's Song cares for Bing's racetrack, if he's had enough, or if the San Diego was his get in shape run.