The 2017 Horse of the Year conversation is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. Gun Runner’s win in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The plan for Gun Runner includes some rest-and-relaxation at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. Trainer Steve Asmussen declared that the horse has certainly earned some time off until next year, where the plan is to test the 2018 Pegasus World Cup.
“What’s next is celebrating every day from now until they give him the 2017 Horse of the Year trophy,” Asmussen cheered. “The horse deserves it. I can’t tell you the level of appreciation I have for him. Because very few horses accept the amount of pressure that was applied to him. Especially in the style in which he did it.” Gun Runner dusted a hard running Solimini heading in to the home stretch and then buried his rivals by 4 1/2 lengths.”
While the 2017 Horse of the Year trophy has yet to be distributed, it’s hard to argue that there’s any other horse that deserves the honor. “It feels wonderful standing here the day after; the plan came together so well and feel the season has earned him the golden trophy.”
That plan that Asmussen refers to included a harrowing trip to the Dubai World Cup, where Gun Runner suffered his only loss by finishing second to Arrogate at Meydan Racecourse. When he returned, Gun Runner was put through a Grade-I gauntlet that included the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney and Woodward Stakes. He won all of those easily on route to capturing the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“It came together,” Asmussen continued, recounting the entire year for his prized Gun Runner. “And on this stage, when you need to be your best, we were our best. The Breeders’ Cup here at Del Mar, what a wonderful setting. I was very much concerned about a different racetrack, a racetrack he hadn’t run on. All of those variables. He accepted them, did his job, and came through like the champion he is. That little bit of unknown just had the excitement a couple notches higher.”
Gun Runner has now achieved a record of 11-3-2 and earned $8,988,500 and a win in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup would vault those earnings even higher. He’ll certainly have his hands full considering that Collected, West Coast and Forever Unbridled have all had their connections suggest entry. However, any one who wants a piece of that massive purse will have to also contend with the 2017 Horse of the Year.