Gun Runner won the $5.52 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2¼ lengths over Collected at Del Mar, near San Diego. All-time earnings leader Arrogate, favored at 2-1 in the last start of his career, dead-heated for fifth.
DEL MAR, Calif. – There’s a new king in horse racing, and his name is Gun Runner.
The 4-year-old colt won the $5.52 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2¼ lengths over Collected on Saturday at Del Mar.
Defending Classic champion Arrogate, favored at 2-1 in the final start of his career, dead-heated for fifth place with Gunnevera in the field of 11.
Gun Runner, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, ran 1¼ miles on dirt in 2 minutes, 1.29 seconds. He returned $6.80 on a $2 win bet as the second choice in the wagering.
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“At the quarter pole, it was just a two-horse race between me and Collected,” Geroux said. “We just went on and the best horse won the race.”
Bob Baffert is the trainer of Collected, third-place West Coast, Arrogate and eighth-place Mubtaahij.
Arrogate also failed to win at Del Mar in July and August.
“He just doesn’t seem to get a hold of this racetrack, for whatever reason,” jockey Mike Smith said. “I hate to blame it on the track, but he’s shown it time and time again. I keep trying to talk myself into it, that he’s going to like it one day, but he just never did.”
Arrogate broke a step slow from post 1 and banged his left side on the starting gate.
“At the break, when he ducked in and (Smith) had to gather him up, you just can’t do that against these horses,” Baffert said. “But I notice when he goes around these turns, he loses momentum. I can’t really totally blame it on the track.”
Arrogate hasn’t been the same horse since his dominant victories in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup earlier this year.
“He’s like a pitcher who can’t find the plate,” Hall of Famer Baffert said. “I hate to make any excuses for the big horse, but he’s just not the horse he was. He’s run so many incredible races that I really think he’s just losing interest.”
Arrogate will be retired from racing and is expected to enter stud for the 2018 breeding season at Juddmonte Farms in Lexington, Ky.
The 4-year-old exits with world-record earnings of $17,422,600.
Meanwhile, the runner-up effort in the March 25 Dubai World Cup was the last time Gun Runner lost. Since then, he has emerged stronger than ever — with four consecutive Grade I victories.
“He’s better today than he’s ever been,” said Asmussen, who won the 2007 Classic with Curlin.
In Asmussen’s view, Gun Runner is “undoubtedly Horse of the Year.”
Del Mar, a seaside track near San Diego, was hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the first time; Friday was the first day. Those in the crowd of 37,692 who like to wager on favorites had a difficult time, as World Approval in the Mile was the lone top betting choice to win one of Saturday’s nine Cup races.
There were some massive longshots, such as Bar of Gold ($135.40 to win) in the Filly & Mare Sprint and Stormy Liberal ($62.40) in the Turf Sprint.
Juvenile winner Good Magic ($25), a 2-year-old colt trained by Chad Brown, became the first winner of a Breeders’ Cup event who didn’t have a previous career victory.
|How they ran in the Breeders’ Cup|
|A summary of the Breeders’ Cup races Saturday at Del Mar; payoffs are on $2 win bets.|
|Juvenile Fillies||Caledonia Road||Ralph Nicks||Mike Smith||$36.60|
|Turf Sprint||Stormy Liberal||Peter Miller||Joel Rosario||$62.40|
|F&M Sprint||Bar of Gold||John Kimmel||Irad Ortiz Jr.||$135.40|
|F&M Turf||Wuheida||Charles Appleby||William Buick||$24.40|
|Sprint||Roy H||Peter Miller||Kent Desormeaux||$11.80|
|Mile||World Approval||Mark Casse||John Velazquez||$7.40|
|Juvenile||Good Magic||Chad Brown||Jose Ortiz||$25.00|
|Turf||Talismanic||Andre Fabre||Mickael Barzalona||$30.20|
|Classic||Gun Runner||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||$6.80|