Gun Runner, Creator Back to Back
By Dick Downey
Updated 4:09 p.m. ET
A pair of important workouts took center stage today at Churchill Downs when Steve Asmussen sent out Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner and Arkansas Derby winner Creator.
Both were on the track during the 8:30 training time reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses. The works today could be well-viewed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kentucky-derby-139-workouts, the streaming video site that was inexplicably dark yesterday.
Gun Runner was first to go, breaking off a length behind and to the outside of his workmate Gold Hawk, a 5-year-old stablemate. Those two worked together last week as well. On even terms leaving the turn, Gun Runner drew off in the stretch under moderate handling and was six lengths ahead of Gold Hawk at the wire. He extended the gap between the horses while galloping out. The workout was straightforward and professional.
Churchill Downs clockers timed the six-furlong work in 1:12.20 (1/2), breezing. Internal fractions were 12.40, 24.60, 36.40, 48.20 and 59.80, and the gallop-out went seven furlongs in 1:25.00 and a mile in 1:39.00. Gold Hawk was timed in 1:13.20.
“We worked Gun Runner last Monday and me, Scott and Florent thought that he needed a little bit more,” Asmussen said. “Saturday they started the Derby break training; I think that the racetrack is not as tight, just freshly harrowed. We thought that we would get a blow out of him today and that’s exactly what we got out of the work.”
A few minutes later, Creator appeared with his neck arched, then energetically threw his head around before settling down outside workmate Hundred Years on even terms and to the outside. He pulled ahead in the stretch although appearing a bit unfocused for a brief time before moving past the finish in good stride and galloping out with energy. He finished a couple of lengths in front of his workmate.
Working nine days after his win at Oaklawn, Creator's time was 1:02.40 (25/34), breezing, for five furlongs with splits of 12.60, 25.00, 37.60 and 49.60. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.20 and seven in 1:28.80. Hundred Years was credited with a time of 1:02.80.
"Creator is coming around at the right time. He is really turning into an excellent racehorse," Asmussen said, per @YourFriendJimbo on Twitter.
“I think pedigree wise he is getting good at the right time," Asmussen said. "He’s always been talented. He did lack some focus and Mr. Trout and Elliott had all the patience in the world of letting him come around. Elliott always had the vision of him getting good when it mattered. The first couple of turf starts were his lack of speed early. I felt that talking with Elliott, we thought that it would not deter him from future racing, to just leave there and get covered up with dirt and not really know what happened. He said that they went the same path with Drosselmeyer. His first couple of races were on turf, hopefully it works out as well."
Speaking about both his Derby horses, Asmussen said, “Their works were ideal for what we think that they need,. I’m extremely proud of the shape that both of these horses are in going into the Derby. I think that our team has done wonderful with them; I’m very proud of the guys to get them in this position.
“They are definitely a complement to each other,” Asmussen said. “Just speaking with Elliott after [Creator’s] work. As handy as Creator is in the morning and the way he goes to the pole and breaks out, it’s kind of surprising with his lack of speed coming from the gate, but it is very effective for him. We’re comfortable with that. That being said Gun Runner is a quick horse, extremely athletic and capable of being very close to any pace. The key with him is how he gets under the wire the first time. I think over half of the field is eliminated in the first quarter of a mile in the Derby.”