Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Saturday, March 11

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· Gun Runner Has Final Serious Work for Dubai
· Girvin Works Toward Louisiana Derby
· Mo Tom Gets Serious in Bullet Move

GUN RUNNER HAS FINAL SERIOUS WORK FOR DUBAI

With two weeks until he faces the world’s top-ranked horse, Juddmonte Farms’ Bob Baffert-trained champion Arrogate, Gun Runner maintained his mantle as the pride of the Fair Grounds on Saturday morning, whistling through a sharp six-furlong work in 1:12 flat at the New Orleans oval for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owners Three Chimneys Farm and Winchell Thoroughbreds. The work was his final serious move before shipping to Dubai for the Group I $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup.

Asmussen was very pleased with the move, remarking that the horse, who ships Sunday morning for the United Arab Emirates “went great.”

Gun Runner served notice that he will be a force to reckon with in 2017 with a dominating performance on Feb. 20 in Oaklawn Park’s Grade III Razorback Handicap in what was his 4-year-old bow. Winning by 5¾ lengths that day under regular rider Florent Geroux, the son of Candy Ride (Arg) won for the seventh time in 13 lifetime starts and second time in a row following his open-length victory in the Grade I Clark Handicap on Nov. 25.

The reliable Kentucky-bred has never failed to hit the board on a fast dirt track, with his only two off-the-board finishes being over wet surfaces in the Grade I Haskell Invitational last July and the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club as a juvenile. Additionally, the 2016 Grade II Louisiana Derby winner is the only horse to run and place in both the Grade I Kentucky Derby and Grade I Travers Stakes, which are both at the same 1 1/4-miles distance of the Dubai World Cup.

Gun Runner, who has earned more than $2.3 million, is expected to have a maintenance work over the Meydan surface about a week prior to his run in the global showcase.

GIRVIN WORKS TOWARD LOUISIANA DERBY

Brad Grady’s Girvin, who burst onto the Kentucky Derby trail with an impressive victory in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25, had his first work since said triumph on Saturday morning. The Joe Sharp-trained son of Tale of Ekati worked alongside stablemate and fellow Grady-owned colt Cool Arrow, with each 3-year-old getting a half-mile in 49 flat.

Sharp, who was aboard multiple stakes-winning Cool Arrow, expressed that he was very happy with the dark bay colt’s breeze, especially his strong gallop out. Former jockey Rosie Napravnik was aboard Girvin. Sharp confirmed that the goal is still the Grade II $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby on Apr. 1. Cool Arrow’s plans have yet to be confirmed.

MO TOM GETS SERIOUS IN BULLET MOVE

Shaking off an off-the-board finish last out, G M B Racing’s Mo Tom displayed marked strength on Saturday morning, blazing five furlongs in a brisk 58.80 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and earning the bullet for his 11-time meet champion trainer. The move is part of a realization that Amoss must change his training of the son of Uncle Mo in order to accommodate for the physical maturation he once greatly longed for with the late-blooming type.

“He worked in company and the workmate gave him a head start, but the separation wound up being a little more than I would have liked,” Amoss said. “He really came running and while I can’t say I was looking for something that fast, I don’t think it should be a problem. He’s a different horse this year, a stronger horse. He’s not the skinny May foal he was as a 3-year-old and he’s matured very well.”

Last out, the well-regarded Kentucky Derby alum was a disappointing sixth of seven in the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 25 to kick off his sophomore campaign. The effort was his first since September and included a sharp rally on the far turn that ultimately faltered in the lane against a salty group of older handicap horses, including four other graded stakes winners.

“I think I should have done more with him prior to the Mineshaft,” Amoss continued. “I trained more along the lines of how I did last year and now I know that I need to train him like the horse he is now. I’m not sure what we’re going to do as far as his next race. We’ll talk about the New Orleans Handicap and see how difficult it comes up. Maybe we’ll run, maybe we won’t. For now, we’ll see how he trains.”

The Grade II $400,000 New Orleans is the meet centerpiece for older horses and is on Louisiana Derby Day, Apr. 1 over nine furlongs on the main track.

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