After his career defining victory in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic there is no better horse in the world than Gun Runner, but his reign at the top will be short lived. The Steven Asmussen trainee will compete in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup on January 27th at Gulfstream Park in what is expected to be his final race. His connections at Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farm will put the champion and upcoming 2017 Horse of the Year out to stud in his upcoming retirement for a reported $70,000.
Training at Fair Grounds, Gun Runner logged work at five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. It was the kind of performance his overseers have come to expect from the horse, who deem him to be on pace for the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. “It was pretty on par, on schedule, working backward every Sunday morning from the Pegasus,” said David Fiske, a representative for Winchell Thoroughbred who observed the work via video. “Nothing exciting, just gradually getting him ramped up. They’ll gradually get longer and more serious. He’ll get with company three or four works out, gradually get faster and farther. We’ll just keep turning the dial up.”
The purse for the 2018 World Cup is expected to be $12 million, with the winner taking $7 million. Gun Runner has won a total of $8,998,500 so that would bring his winnings up to $15.9 million in total. If he competed in the 2018 Dubai World Cup and won, he would be the first $20M horse in history, which is a mark that his rival Arrogate missed out on by failing to fire in the Breeders’ Cup Classic as the co-favorite.
But the risk of that milestone is too great considering that Gun Runner already has a list of mares to select from. His stud price is relatively competitive given that Uncle Mo and Curlin have seen their own fees rise to $150,000+ while American Pharoah still commands $200,000. For comparison, California Chrome charges $40,000 but that is mostly because his lineage is a little less regarded. Candy Ride is an undefeated stakes runner and Gun Runner’s father, so that helps boost his value overall alongside his winning record.
“The seasons are flying off the shelf, as far as I can tell,” Fiske continued when asked about the breeding schedule for 2018 Pegasus favorite Gun Runner. “They keep sending me over mares that have been submitted. I mean, I get five or six of those a day to look at.”
It looks like Gun Runner is in for a busy year on and off the track.