Chaos, then Clas­sic

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - RICHARD MAUNTAH

Gun Run­ner won the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic on his own terms.

The four-year-old Steve As­mussen-trained colt wrapped up U.S. horse of the year hon­ours with a com­mand­ing three-length win in the $6-mil­lion cli­max to an un­usual cham­pi­onship day at Del Mar.

Rid­den by Florent Ger­oux, Gun Run­ner was ex­actly where no other horse had suc­cess on Satur­day, on the lead.

But buck­ing the trend of the day, he pulled away in the stretch from Col­lected, with that one stay­ing for sec­ond.

Ger­oux al­lowed his mount to dictate how he was go­ing to ride.

“It was just how the race un­folded,” he said. “You just have to let Gun Run­ner be Gun Run­ner. He can go to the lead or he can stalk.” “He’s just a beast.” The beast, a son of Candy Ride, was sec­ond in the Dubai World Cup, then took dom­i­nant wins in the Stephen Foster, Whit­ney, and Wood­ward Stakes go­ing into the Clas­sic.

While a win by Gun Run­ner could be pre­dicted, the day was any­thing but pre­dictable. Satur­day’s races made a lot of stars look very or­di­nary. Among those well beaten were Lady Aure­lia in the Turf Sprint, Unique Bella in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Lady Eli in the Filly and Mare Turf, Dre­fong in the Sprint, Ribch­ester in the Mile, Bolt d’Oro in the Ju­ve­nile, and Ar­ro­gate, the 2016 horse of the year and rich­est North Amer­i­can-based thor­ough­bred of all time, who was out­run through­out in the Clas­sic, the fi­nal race of his ca­reer.

One horse who did jus­tify fa­voritism was Wood­bine Mile win­ner World Ap­proval, who gave trainer Mark Casse his fourth ca­reer Cup win, tak­ing the $2-mil­lion Mile. Rid­den by John Ve­lazquez, the five-year-old tracked be­hind a quick early tempo but had plenty left to take com­mand at the top of the stretch and draw off.

“I was a lit­tle con­cerned early on be­cause there was so much speed. But, this horse came into this race in just great or­der and he was ready,” Casse said.

It was the fifth win in six starts this year for the grey geld­ing that was con­verted to a miler this year.

Ev­ery other win­ner pro­duced a dou­ble-digit win pay­off. The $1-mil­lion Turf Sprint went to 30-1 long shot Stormy Lib­eral, who got by sta­ble­mate Richard’s Boy with the wire ap­proach­ing for trainer Peter Miller.

Miller took his sec­ond win of the day when Roy H cap­tured the $1.5-mil­lion Sprint at 9-2. Rid­den by Kent Desormeaux, Roy H stayed in mid-pack early then tracked down Im­pe­rial Hint in deep stretch to win his fifth race in six this year by a length.

Good Magic be­came the first horse to break his maiden in the Breed­ers’ Cup when he took the $2-mil­lion Ju­ve­nile at 11-1 with Jose Or­tiz up for trainer Chad Brown.

Wuheida, with William Buick aboard cap­tured the $2-mil­lion Filly and Mare Turf at 11-1. The Godol­phin run­ner, trained by Char­lie Ap­pleby, had been win­less in four starts in 2017 com­ing into the race.

Godol­phin cap­tured a sec­ond win when Tal­is­manic took the $4-mil­lion Turf at 14-1. Rid­den by Mick­ael Barza­lona, the An­dre Fabre­trained colt rode the rail to the head of the stretch and took com­mand at the eighth pole.

Bar of Gold, who nosed out Ami’s Mesa to win the $1-mil­lion Filly and Mare Sprint at odds of 60-1, only had a re­stricted stakes win in eight starts go­ing into the race. John Kim­mel trains the five-year-old mare.

Cale­do­nia Road to win the $2-mil­lion Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies at 17-1 with Mike Smith rid­ing for trainer Ralph Nicks.

GRE­GORY BULL/AP

Jockey Florent Ger­oux cel­e­brates after rid­ing Gun Run­ner to vic­tory in the Clas­sic horse race dur­ing the Breed­ers’ Cup. Gun Run­ner was the rare favourite which was able to win Satur­day, with long shots rul­ing most of the races.

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