It’s safe to say Gunite likes Saratoga. Last year’s Hopeful S. (G1) winner returned to the Spa with a tenacious victory in Sunday’s $200,000 Amsterdam S. (G2).
Fresh off a gritty victory in the Maxfield S. at Churchill Downs, Gunite outran expectations as a 7-1 longshot in the Amsterdam. The son of Gun Runner stumbled at the start of the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for three-year-olds, but recovered under urging from jockey Tyler Gaffalione to press 2021 Del Mar Futurity (G1) hero Pinehurst through quick fractions of :21.78 and :44.60.
Meanwhile, race favorite Corniche was having a tough time. The 2021 champion two-year-old male was making his 2022 debut, having gone unraced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last November. The normally speedy colt was outsprinted early by Pinehurst and Gunite before gradually fading to and easing home last of nine.
While the favorite faltered, Gunite found himself in a dogfight. Pinehurst gave way at the top of the stretch, but Accretive—rallying from midpack—quickly mounted a challenge. Accretive closed ground steadily, but Gunited refused to yield under pressure, digging deep to win by a neck in 1:15.75.
Accretive pulled 4 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Runninsonofagun, while Pappacap, My Prankster, Hoist the Gold, Surfer Dude, Pinehurst, and Corniche completed the order of finish.
“First off, all the credit goes to Steve and his team. They did a fabulous job bringing him over here and getting him ready to run, but he showed in the past that he likes to fight,” Gaffalione told the New York Racing Association. “Last time, he snuck up the rail and had a duel all the way to the wire. Today wasn’t any different. He likes the competition.”
Gunite is a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred trained by Steve Asmussen. Winning the Amsterdam completed a big weekend for Asmussen, whose Saturday triumphs included the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) with Jackie’s Warrior and the Jim Dandy S. (G2) with Epicenter.
“We’ve been blessed with some extremely nice horses and they make it all possible,” said Asmussen.
With a 9-4-3-1 resume and earnings of $548,099, Gunite is rapidly emerging as one of the best sophomore sprinters in the country. Asmussen indicated the Aug. 27 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga is the next goal for Gunite, who was produced by the Cowboy Cal mare Simple Surprise.