Gun Runner set for Woodward
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Gun Runner completed preparations for his role as the expected odds-on favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes by working a half-mile in 50.28 seconds early Monday morning over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga.
Under exercise rider Angel Garcia, Gun Runner went his first quarter in 25.56 seconds and his second quarter in 24.72, with a five-furlong gallop-out time of 1:04.31.
“The big horse is doing well,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Gun Runner is coming off a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes four weeks ago. Asmussen felt the Woodward was the best race to use as Gun Runner’s last start before the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
“There’s a lot of positives to it – how the [Whitney] ran, not moving, the weather,” Asmussen said. “Happy with how he’s doing, knowing he’s going to need to run another fast race. But he’s been doing that.”
Gun Runner earned a careerbest 112 Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney, which came after he ran a 110 in winning the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 17.
Gun Runner is expected to meet four or five opponents in the Woodward, including Rally Cry, the 8 3/4-length winner of the Alydar Stakes here on Aug. 6; Neolithic, third in the Dubai World Cup; War Story, fourth in the Whitney, and his rabbit, May B, a gelding who has been running in Quarter Horse races and claiming sprints. Discreet Lover is possible.
Classic Empire out of Pa. Derby
Classic Empire, last year’s champion 2-year-old male whose 3-year-old season has been interrupted by infirmity and immaturity, will not run in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 23, trainer Mark Casse said on Monday.
Casse said he is still not totally satisfied with how Classic Empire is training at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, Fla., adding that inclement weather there has interrupted his training schedule. Casse said Classic Empire will remain in training but is not pointing to any particular race.
“We’re not going to make the Pennsylvania Derby,” Casse said. “He’s doing fine, but I still haven’t got him where I want him. We’re going along, playing it day by day. I’m not going to worry about a race. I want to get him where I’m happy with him.”
Classic Empire has not run since finishing second to Cloud Computing in the Preakness Stakes on May 20. He was pointing to the Belmont Stakes but did not enter the third leg of the Triple Crown when a foot abscess was discovered on June 6, the day of entries.
Classic Empire was sent to Saratoga in July but refused to train on several mornings. On Aug. 14, Casse shipped the horse to Winding Oaks Farm, where Classic Empire was broken and where he was sent during the winter when he refused to train at Palm Meadows in south Florida.
Classic Empire did well enough at Winding Oaks Farm to win the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before running fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
In addition to dealing with foot issues earlier this year, Classic Empire has had issues with his back that are being addressed at Winding Oaks Farm.
Time and Motion to Glens Falls
Believing that last Saturday’s Grade 2 Ballston Spa had come up too tough, trainer Jimmy Toner scratched Time and Motion from that race and now likely will supplement her to Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Glens Falls at Saratoga.
“All the horses coming back from the Diana came,” Toner said. “I didn’t think they’d all come back, and Lady Eli, I think she puts a different dimension on things. I didn’t want to run against her.”
Lady Eli won the Ballston Spa.
Time and Motion, who went 5 for 7 in 2016, including a victory in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, is winless in three starts this year. Most recently, she finished third in the Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park on July 8.
The Glens Falls is run at 1 3/8 miles and would mark Time and Motion’s longest race.
“Her best races last year were a mile and an eighth,” Toner said. “She was second in the [Belmont] Oaks going a mile and a quarter. Let me just try it and see what happens.”
On Monday, Time and Motion worked five furlongs in 1:02.88 over the Oklahoma turf course.
Others under consideration for the Glens Falls are Estrechada, Grateful, Harmonize, Lottie, Sarandia, Summersault, Sweet Sandy, and War Flag.
Golden Orb in no rush
Golden Orb, one of the better 2-year-old filly turf maiden winners of the Saratoga meet, will skip the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday as trainer Christophe Clement monitors her development.
“She needs a little more time before her next race,” Clement said.
Golden Orb, a $320,000 purchase at the Barretts March sale of select 2-year-olds in training by Speedway Stable, is a half-sister to the Grade 3-winning 4-year-old filly sprinter Finley’sluckycharm. Golden Orb rallied from seventh to win her debut by a half-length going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 6, closing about four lengths into a 29.20-second final five-sixteenths of a mile.
Clement said Golden Orb could start next in either the Grade 1, $250,000 Natalma, a one-mile turf race at Woodbine on Sept. 17, or the Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16mile turf race at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.
The Natalma is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and is a Win and You’re In for the $1 million BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, a one-mile turf race at Del Mar on Nov. 3.
Gun Runner breezes an easy half-mile in 50.28 seconds on Monday ahead of this Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward Stakes.