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Owner Ron Winchell leads Gun Runner after winning the 2018 Pegasus World Cup
The second running of the $16.3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) was contested on Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park in south Florida. Conditions were excellent with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70's, with the main track rated fast and the turf firm. The maximum field of 12 older horses went to post, with each owner having either purchased a $1 million share in the race, or leased their share from an original investor. As expected, 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner was sent off as the 11-10 favorite, off his wins in the Stephen Foster (G1), Whitney (G1), Woodward (G1), and the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice West Coast, the champion 3-year-old male and winner of the Los Alamitos Derby (G3), Travers (G1), and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) before finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and 4-1 third choice Sharp Azteca, 2nd in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) before winning the Cigar Mile (G1).
Gun Runner leads down the stretch in the Pegasus World Cup
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 10 Gun Runner Geroux 4.20 3.00 2.80 2 West Coast Castellano 4.00 3.20 6 Gunnevera Saez 4.80 Winning Time: 1:47.41 $2 Exacta 10-2 17.20 $1 Trifecta 10-2-6 55.50 $0.10 Superfecta 10-2-6-7 114.27Results Chart
Left: Gun Runner parades after the race with trainer Steve Asmussen at his hip. Asmussen said, "It's the cherry on the top, this one. This race, the world's richest horse race after him being named Horse of the Year on Thursday night. For him to be able to go out on top and go back to his next career with everybody feeling the way that we have, and it's built up to this point. I'm just so proud of the whole team and happy for them. How much love that this team and Florent have for this horse is just a beautiful thing."
Right: Gun Runner heads back to the barn after the race. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "This feeling is hard to describe, it's a dream come true. We wanted the horse to prove that the Breeders' Cup and all of last year was not a fluke and the horse was there, in only one word, the horse was unbeatable."
Left: In the winner's circle after the Pegasus World Cup with owner Ron Winchell, jockey Florent Geroux, track owner Frank Stronach, Florida Governor Rick Scott and his wife Ann. Asmussen added, "He has qualities we all wish we had. He doesn't have to have success to move forward. He never doubts himself. With the success he had this year you try to do exactly the same thing over. He knows what's up. And how cool and collected he was and laid down and waited for the day. And the 10 post. We're not capable of dealing with it and he is. We're just blessed to be in his presence and he just drags us along with him."
Right: Gun Runner shortly after the start of the race. Owner Ron Winchell said, "The stress left me when he broke nicely out of the gate and slid over to the two-path. I felt very comfortable after that."
Left: Gun Runner walks over before the race. Asmussen said, "He earned it. He wasn't given it. So pleased to be in his presence. This memory will be with us forever. To be able to share it with my family, just a wonderful ownership group. What a special horse. Now we'll get to watch his videos in the Hall of Fame for as long as we're around."
Right: Gun Runner in the post parade. Geroux added, "The main thing was the break. We knew the break was going to be really important in the race. When he broke very sharply, like he's very capable of, from there I was just following Collected. And when Collected went on and was able to be in front of Sharp Azteca, I just sat off his flank. By the 3/8 pole, when Collected was getting tired, I just took over from there. Gun Runner was just waiting for my signal to go."
Left: Second place finisher West Coast walks over before the race. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "Turning for home I thought Gun Runner might be a little empty, but his tank is so big and he just kept going. He's just a great horse. He just kept on running. I was proud of (West Coast). He just keeps getting better. I can't really complain. We just got beat by a really good horse. He was tested the whole way around there. It was a good horse race. I just came up a little short." Jockey Javier Castellano added, "I had every opportunity to beat (Gun Runner) and was just second-best. The one good thing about this race is I won't have to deal with (Gun Runner) anymore. He's retired and I think my horse is really going to step out and become a top, top horse."
Right: Third place finisher Gunnevera in the post parade. Jockey Luis Saez said, "It was a tough race but he ran well. He tried. When we came to the stretch, I saw the horses in front, and I knew we were trying for third because Gun Runner is a champion. He can really run." Trainer Antonio Sano added, "I'm so happy and so proud for my horse. The horses that beat him were both champions. I don't think many people thought he had a chance to win but he showed he's a very good horse and he ran a big race."
The start of the Pegasus World Cup. Jockey Mike Smith aboard pacesetter and 7th place finisher Collected (5) said, "The wind is blowing really hard so it dries that track out a little bit. When Gun Runner kind of pushed me at the half-mile pole, Collected got to struggling. I said, ‘Uh oh, we might be in trouble.' Gun Runner just ran a tremendous race. Hat's off to him. Collected ran great, he just struggled a bit over this sandy racetrack. He's not really used to it, never run on one. I was hoping he'd really like it, like Arrogate did. I was really proud of him until he couldn't hang in there anymore."
Left: The Pegasus World Cup Statue had its own security detail guarding it.
Right: Florida Governor Rick Scott and track owner Frank Stronach check out the past performances for the race.
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