Gun Runner named Horse of the Year

by | Jan 26, 2018 | Breaking, National news, Pennsylvania, Racing

Gun Runner

Gun Runner dazzled in winning the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Photo by Ting Shen/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup.

From a National Thoroughbred Racing Association release

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced this evening that Gun Runner, a winner of four Grade 1 races culminating with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, was voted the 2017 Horse of the Year at the 47th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

In addition, those groups named a Pennsylvania-bred, Unique Bella, champion female sprinter.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Form and the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB).

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner received 248 out of a possible 250 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, who was last year’s Champion 3-year-old, received two first place votes.

Gun Runner, who was also named the Champion Older Dirt Male earlier in the evening, won 5 of 6 starts during his 4-year-old season, including dominant victories in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June, the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga in August, and then finished the year with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the Classic at Del Mar. Gun Runner’s only defeat last year came in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, when he finished second to Arrogate. Gun Runner later turned the tables on Arrogate, who dead-heated for fifth in the Classic. Gun Runner, ridden in all of his races last year by Florent Geroux, finished the year with earnings of $6,950,700.

A chestnut son of Candy Ride (ARG) out of Quiet Giant by Giant’s Causeway, Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables. Gun Runner is scheduled to make his final career start in Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, and then will be retired to stud duty at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

With the crowning of Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen becomes the first trainer since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 to train the Horse of the Year winner on four occasions. In addition to Gun Runner, Asmussen, a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame, trained Curlin to Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008 and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

Unique Bella, bred in the Keystone State by Brushwood Stable, campaigned for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and owner Don Alberto Stable. She won five of six starts during the year, all in graded company. And, though she was thrashed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, she subsequently burnished her credentials by defeating the talented Paradise Woods to win the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on the day after Christmas.

In wide open voting, Unique Bella received 90 of 250 first-place votes to top Paulassilverlining, who received 60. It was the fewest votes received by any winner.

In other awards tonight, two horses from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert captured the 3-year-old male and 3-year-old filly titles. Gary and Mary West’s West Coast, winner of the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby was named Champion 3-year-old Male, and China Horse Club’s Abel Tasman, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and the Coaching Club American Oaks, was named Champion 3-year-old filly.

The Champion 2-year-old Male title went to Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, who is trained by Chad Brown, who was also named Outstanding Trainer for the second consecutive year.

Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Arrogate to victories in the both the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, was named Champion owner, and Clearksy Farms, breeders of Arrogate and Abel Tasman, was named the Outstanding Breeder. Jose Ortiz, who led all riders with more than $27 million in earnings, was named Champion Jockey.

The complete list of 2017 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below:

(Horse ages in parentheses where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation)

  • Two-Year-Old Male: Good Magic
  • Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road
  • Three-Year-Old Male: West Coast
  • Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman
  • Older Dirt Male: Gun Runner (4)
  • Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled (5)
  • Male Sprinter: Roy H (5)
  • Female Sprinter: Unique Bella (3)
  • Male Turf Horse: World Approval (5)
  • Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli (5)
  • Steeplechase Horse: Scorpiancer (IRE) (8)
  • Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
  • Breeder: Clearsky Farms
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz
  • Apprentice Jockey: Evin Roman
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Horse of the Year: Gun Runner (4)