Glowing chestnut Gun Runner retires after Pegasus
It would be Gun Runner’s last on-track hurrah.
The newly turned five-year-old was in the money-madness Pegasus World Cup Invitational, a race that had over $16 million in prize money, with a cool $7 million going to the winner. Even the thoroughbreds that finished from sixth to 12th would each be paid $650K.
The Pegasus would be run at Gulfstream Park, a fashionable spalike oasis in Hallandale, Florida.
Eleven other thoroughbreds would challenge Gun Runner – the most formidable appeared to be West Coast.
Gun Runner is a polished chestnut with eager-to-please eyes and a coat that shines like a just-minted penny. He’s a friendly sort around humans and only disgusts the thoroughbreds he regularly tames on the track.
Coming into the mid-January Pegasus, Gun Runner had reeled off wins in his last five starts.
He was recently voted Horse of the Year, and had won last fall’s Breeder’s Cup Classic. He wouldn’t sneak up on anybody in the Pegasus.
A midwinter afternoon of ain’t-misbehavin’ sunshine and little wind greeted the dozen entries in the Pegasus.
Jockey Florent Geroux was aboard the odds-on choice as Gun Runner passively strode up to the starting gate. He was in the number 10 post position, which didn’t favor the close-to-the-lead style he had all-but-patented.
When the gate opened, Gun Runner was out quickly and settled into the second position along the rail. After only a quarter mile, he was confidently moving along in second place.
Biding his time, he went to the lead before the last turn leading toward the home stretch. Rounding the final bend, West Coast made up no ground through the stretch, and Gun Runner breezed back to the winner’s circle in fine fettle to receive the crowd’s applause and see his owners bask in the limelight brought by the $7 million winner’s check.
Gun Runner’s career earnings went to $15,000,098, and soon enough he would be off to stud at Three Chimneys in Kentucky.
The Pegasus win was his eighth in his last nine starts. Trainer Steve Asmussen regaled the media and television audience with flowery explanations as to why Gun Runner was so successful.
The stock of sire Candy Ride and mother Quiet Giant (by Giant’s Causeway) leaped upward.
The shiny chestnut, with the silver-dollar sized blotch of white on his forehead and one white sock on a leg, took his leave of the gently swaying palm trees and went gracefully into retirement.