Gun Run­ner set for Wood­ward

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By David Gren­ing – ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Jim Dun­leavy

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.

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