Gun Runner the overwhelming favorite for $16 million Pegasus
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Gun Runner’s final race might be a bit of a challenge.
The 5-year-old is the overwhelming 4-5 favorite for Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park. But the likely Horse of the Year — an honor that will be announced Thursday at the Eclipse Awards — will have to win his finale from a post near the outside after drawing the No. 10 spot in an expected 12-horse field.
Horses that start at least that far from the rail in distance events at Gulfstream are winning at only about an 8 percent clip this season. Then again, none of those starters was of Gun Runner’s caliber.
“I’ve always said you don’t know to complain about a post position until after a race is run,” Gun Runner trainer Steve Asmussen said after Wednesday’s draw. “So it might work out perfectly for him. The horse is doing extremely well, in the capable hands of (jockey) Florent Geroux, and hopefully we’ll have a big day Saturday and send the 2017 Horse of the Year out on top.”
Gun Runner will be racing for the last time before retirement. He has won four consecutive starts, all of them Grade 1 events, and will have a chance to push his career earnings to nearly $16 million. Saturday’s winner earns a $7 million share of the purse.
Sharp Azteca is the second choice in the morning line, at 6-1. Collected and West Coast — both trained by Bob Baffert, who got Arrogate the win in the inaugural Pegasus last year — will start at 8-1.
“If you drew it up on paper and tried to make the race as fair as you possibly could, I think you’ve got speed on the inside, speed in the middle and speed on the outside,” said Ron Paolucci, who owns Sharp Azteca and fellow Pegasus entry War Story. “It’s going to be a real rider’s race going into that first turn. That’s going to be the whole thing.”
The field for the Pegasus, from the rail out with morning lines: Singing Bullet, 30-1; West Coast, 8-1; Stellar Wind, 30-1; Sharp Azteca, 6-1; Collected, 8-1; Gunnevera, 15-1; Fear the Cowboy, 30-1; War Story, 25-1; Toast of New York, 20-1; Gun Runner, 4-5; Seeking the Soul, 25-1; Giant Expectations, 30-1.
This story has been corrected to show that Gun Runner’s age is 5, not 4.