Multiple graded stakes winner Gun Runner put in his final breeze Monday morning before Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride worked four furlongs in 50.16 seconds on the Oklahoma training track with exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard, which Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said was a solid work.
“It was just an easy half-mile the week of; I love how he’s moving,” Asmussen said. “We’ve been very fortunate with the weather. It’s been nice, cool mornings and everyone is feeling good. We’re hoping to have a smooth rest of the week for him.”
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys’ Gun Runner put in his third breeze on the Saratoga training track since winning the Grade 1 Whitney on August 5. The ultra-consistent Kentucky bred has finished on the board in all but two of his 16 career starts.
Of Gun Runner’s nine wins, seven have come against graded stakes competition, including back-to-back Grade 1s in the Stephen Foster Handicap on June 17 and the Whitney earlier this month.
“We’ve talked about him quite a bit, how he just spoils us with his consistency,” Asmussen said. “He’s a very generous horse in the mornings. I thought Angel did a great job with him. He went around real smooth.”
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Vertical Oak also breezed Monday, going three furlongs in 37.89 seconds on the Oklahoma track in working towards the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress on Sunday.
Vertical Oak finished fifth in the Grade 1 Test last out on August 5, weakening late in the seven-furlong sprint. The 3-year-old Giant Oak filly will cut back to a distance in which she is 4-1-1 in eight starts, including the Grade 3 Miss Preakness on May 19 at Pimlico.
“Backing her up to three-quarters has always suited her, and it’s the same situation where the cool mornings have helped, and we’re looking forward to a big race,” Asmussen said.
Lookin At Lee will receive a freshening following a 10th place finish in the Grade 1 Travers presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday. Asmussen said he hasn’t decided on the next spot for the Lookin At Lucky colt, who has raced eight times this year, including all three legs of the Triple Crown and a third-place finish in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on August 5 before the Mid-Summer Derby.
“He’s tired and he’s going to get a little break,” Asmussen said. “He’s done a lot for us this year. He’s been a tremendous ride. We’re going to give him a significant amount of time off and ready him for his 4-year-old year.”
Lookin At Lee was the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby runner-up before running fourth in the Preakness. After a seventh-place effort in the Test of the Champion on June 10 at Belmont Park, he didn’t race until nearly two months later with a solid effort in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. In the Travers, Lookin At Lee saved ground near the rail on the far turn before weakening in the stretch.
“He was a little hesitant and got a little spot at the head of the lane and just didn’t pick it after that,” Asmussen said.
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