Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys' Gun Runner handily defeated older horses to earn his first Grade 1 victory Nov. 25, turning back longshot Breaking Lucky for a gate-to-wire score in the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Gun Runner entered the 1 1/8-mile Clark off a runner-up finish behind Tamarkuz in the Nov. 4 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile for trainer Steve Asmussen, and returned to winning ways for the first time since taking Churchill's June 18 Matt Winn Stakes. That victory came after a third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands for the 3-year-old son of Candy Ride.
Gun Runner covered the distance in 1:48.50 on a fast track, as Florent Geroux kept the 2-1 favorite to the task after showing the way throughout in the field of 10. The chestnut colt held clear by about three lengths over 46-1 shot Breaking Lucky. Woodward Stakes winner Shaman Ghost was third, and 2014 Clark winner Hoppertunity finished fourth.
"I was pretty confident up front," Geroux said. "He was always a good horse when he's forwardly placed and when Noble Bird wasn't there, I just took it from there and just let my horse do his thing and let him be comfortable and turning for home he showed me a super kick."
Gun Runner returned $6.20, $4.20, and $3. Breaking Lucky brought $25.60 and $11, while Shaman Ghost paid $4.20. After Hoppertunity came Hawaakom, Effinex, Noble Bird, Are You Kidding Me, Prayer for Relief, and Mr. Z.
"For him to beat this year's Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup winners at the end of his 3 -year-old year I think speaks wonderful things for him," Asmussen said. "Obviously, we will get together and decide how to proceed with him. We saw an exceptional horse beat an exceptional field. He deserved it. With all the Grade 1 winners he has beaten and for this to be his first Grade 1, I feel very confident it will not be his last."