Gun Runner entered the 2017 Whitney as the 3/5 favorite and ran true to form, obliterating a field that had attempted to disrupt his gameplan by inserting a fast pace setter. Turns out that Gun Runner isn’t affected by rabbits all that much. He ate this one for dinner.
Cautious Giant was the 62/1 longshot in quesiton, a sprinter by nature who wasn’t really spelled for the distance of the 2017 Whitney Stakes to begin with. His purpose was simple – take Gun Runner out fast and burn up whatever he had in the tank early on. A slight wardrobe malfunction, where Cautious Giant lost a horseshoe midrace, may have impacted his ability to do his job but it might not have mattered overall.
The field went out at an easy pace with fractions of :27.89 and :48.31 which set the contest up perfectly for Gun Runner. He wasted no time in taking control of the race, doing so at the onset of the final corner. Florent Geroux and the 3/5 favorite then went on to feed the rest of his rivals at Saratoga a healthy helping of dust.
“When you’re rewarded like Gun Runner has rewarded us for three years, you’re just all-in on him,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said. “After the race that he won, you’re very proud of how people feel about Gun Runner, and that’s what you’re defending. You want him held in that esteem. You want everybody as proud of him, or think as much of him, as you do.”
Keen Ice, a 3/1 second choice, came second thanks to a late surge that allowed him to catch 12/1 outside shot Breaking Lucky just before the wire.
The 2017 Whitney Stakes victory now puts Gun Runner even closer to Arrogate, who remainst he best racehorse in the world despite a staggering upset in the 2017 San Diego Handicap. Even Asmussen wouldn’t annoint Gun Runner that high but the gap is closing. With the victory, Gun Runner is now assured a spot in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic and you can most assuredly feel the excitement buzzing in the air.