Will Gun Runner Give Trainer Steve Asmussen His First Kentucky Derby Win?
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm
Trainer: Steven Asmussen
Likely Jockey: Florent Geroux
Pedigree: Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway
Recent Start: 1st Place, Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (3/26/16)
Notable Wins: Louisiana Derby, G2 (3/26/16), Risen Star, G2 (2/20/16)
Derby Points: 151
Approx. Odds to Win Kentucky Derby (4/13): 10-1
Gun Runner / Career Statistics
Notes: Gun Runner won both his Derby prep stakes races at the Fair Grounds sitting off the lead along the rail. He has that perfect tactical style that always puts him in the race spinning out of the far turn, Many recent Kentucky Derby winners have been positioned in that second grouping off the lead and then make their charge around the far turn into the stretch. Gun Runner will have to avoid being boxed out along the rail if he’s able to draw a favorable post position. He’ll also have to overcome odds being no winner of the Risen Star Stakes has ever gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Also, the last Louisiana Derby winner that went on to wear the roses in victory at the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone in 1996.
Gun Runner is a big quick horse and extremely athletic. He clearly has the stamina to go the 1 ¼ mile distance. Trainer Steve Asmussen says he’s “capable of being very close to any pace. I think over half of the field is eliminated in the first quarter of a mile in the Derby.”
Asmussen was just voted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame and will be inducted August 12. But the Hall of Fame trainer has never won the Kentucky Derby in 13 tries standing 0-1-1. He has Gun Runner and Creator running for the roses this year hoping to break his winless streak.
Gun Runner did not handle the sloppy track in his stakes debut last November finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club behind Airoforce, Mor Spirit, and Mo Tom. His odds to win the Derby have dropped as he’s improved and won his last two races and four of five overall. He’s led in the stretch in all five of his races including the Louisiana Derby when he pulled away to win by more than four lengths. But his Beyer Speed Figure of 91 is still not impressive enough with his next best a 90. He’ll get some public support at the Derby, but his draw will be key as he hopes to stay in stalking position through the opening half to three-quarter miles and would find it tough if he’s stuck outside horses.
Since the creation of the Derby point system in 2013, every Kentucky Derby winner had 150 or more Derby points. Gun Runner is the only horse in this year’s Derby to eclipse that number with 151 points. Must give him credit for winning four of five races, however, I still don’t see him as a top-tier threat as he lacks enough top end and overall speed. As we go through the process of elimination, Gun Runner is not likely to stack up to the top Derby horses and his speed combined with relatively lower odds do not make him an appealing enough choice to win.