GUN Runner, with jockey Florent Geroux in the irons, ground into the lead on the backstretch and drove home a decisive win over West Coast to take the 2018 Pegasus World Cup’s $7-million winner’s cut at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
The worrying and, at Gulfstream, somewhat jinxed tenth post position was never an issue for the Breeders’ Cup winner and recently elected 2017 Horse of the Year. He broke with fabulous ease, angling just slightly into the rail to cover and to beat the middle of the field, a move that allowed him to slip smoothly into second, behind Collected, at the first turn.
His real work came in the backstretch, as he settled into the business of grinding out the win. At the far turn Geroux asked him to move, and move he did, pulling away fluidly and inexorably, as if powered by an afterburner that his competitors back in the pack simply did not possess.
West Coast, who had been in the mix on the back stretch but uncharacteristically back a little, pulled away from the rest of the field with Gun Runner but could not maintain his momentary challenge in the stretch. Gun Runner’s response was simply to cruise to the line. It wasn’t a wire-to-wire run, but it was an extremely dominant win
Gun Runner’s trainer Steve Asmussen described the win as “a fairy-tale story” and a “dream come true.” The horse’s career accomplishments do carry an otherworldly quality, and his retirement at stud will be gilded, to say the least.
With a stud fee reported to be north of $70,000, he will not be short of bedmates. In a very real way, the race and Gun Runner’s clear dominance of it also lends bite and substance to the young Pegasus World Cup as a fixture on the calendar, both very welcome commodities to the Pegasus producers and the owners of Gulfstream, the Stronach Group. The Pegasus very much needed a superb performance for the storybooks. In Gun Runner, it got one.
Veteran jockey Florent Geroux, aboard for each of Gun Runner’s spectacular 2017 and 2018 wins, framed his athletic partner in no uncertain terms. “We wanted the horse to prove that the Breeder’s Cup and all of last year was not a fluke and the horse was there, in only one word, the horse was unbeatable,” he said.
–By Guy Martin/Forbes.