October 2, 2023

Gun Runner blazes bullet, Arrogate answers as Breeders’ Cup Classic rivals strut their stuff

Gun Runner will bring a three-race winning streak into the Breeders' Cup Classic (Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese/Chelsea Durand)

Likely Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) favorite Gun Runner sizzled at Santa Anita Monday morning, completing six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.80.

With regular rider Florent Geroux in town for the work, the Steve Asmussen trainee had a target in the form of stablemate Gettysburg. Gun Runner dispatched him in short order and opened up. Gettysburg, who finished a full second behind in 1:12.80, still registered the second-fastest move at the distance.

Clocker Andy Harrington tweeted that Gun Runner galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.40 and rounded off a mile in 1:38.40: “Road to the Classic goes through him.

Among the work-watchers wowed by Gun Runner was Arrogate’s trainer, Bob Baffert.

“I’m gonna scratch,” the Hall of Famer quipped to Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. “That horse has gotten stronger and stronger.”

But Baffert can take real encouragement in the fact that Arrogate, below par in his two Del Mar appearances over the summer, is apparently rounding back into form for his Breeders’ Cup Classic title defense.

North America’s all-time leading earner drilled seven furlongs in 1:25.40 in company with Uninvited, who was credited with a six-furlong exercise in 1:14.20. Passing his workmate and maintaining momentum through his gallop-out for Rafael Bejarano, Arrogate wasn’t finished until he’d gone 1 1/8 miles.

Baffert sent out fellow Classic contender Mubtaahij for a six-furlong move in tandem with Cupid, expected to cross-enter to the Classic but likelier for the Dirt Mile (G1). Cupid finished slightly faster in 1:13.00 compared to Mubtaahij’s 1:13.20.

Baffert’s four-strong Classic posse includes star sophomore West Coast and Collected, who upset Arrogate in the Pacific Classic (G1). Both worked over the weekend.

Several other Breeders’ Cup runners from the Baffert barn were out and about at Santa Anita Monday.

Drefong, with Martin Garcia aboard, is in the zone ahead of his BC Sprint title defense (Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com)

Reigning TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Drefong continues to breathe fire in the mornings, posting another bullet drill in :46.80. The speedster’s half-mile was the fastest of 55 on the day.

Dirt Mile contender Mor Spirit, unraced since his brilliant Met Mile (G1) on Belmont Day, exercised six panels from the gate in 1:13.00. Work companion Cat Burglar took 1:14.00.

Juvenile (G1) hopeful Solomini and Juvenile Fillies (G1) aspirant Alluring Star turned seven furlongs in 1:26.60.

At Belmont Park, Turf Sprint (G1) contender Pure Sensation toured three furlongs on the main track in :36.98.

By the Moon sped five-eighths in a bullet 1:00.52 for the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) hopeful Best Performance clocked the second-best in 1:01.45.

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