Monday, September 06, 2021

Red-hot First-Crop sire Gun Runner capped off the Saratoga meet with a big victory by Gunite in the $300,000 Hopeful S. (G1) on the Labor Day card, just one day after Echo Zulu gave the Three Chimneys stallion his first Grade 1 winner as a sire in the Spinaway S.

Gunite, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred colt, was the most experienced youngster coming into the race, with four starts, including a second in the Aug. 14 Saratoga Special (G2).

Gunite was a bit tardy from the gate, but quickly made his way up the inside to press Headline Report through the first quarter-mile in :22.23. Gunite gained the lead going into the turn and opened up by about two lengths as he straightened for home. Odds-on favorite Wit made a late charge, but it was all Gunite in the final furlong as he crossed the wire a 5 3/4-length winner in 1:23.08 for the seven furlongs on a “good” main track.

We’ve been aggressive with him,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He’s put on weight and gotten stronger the whole time. We’ve been through the roof how well he’s doing.”

The victory upped Gunite’s record to 2-2-1 in five starts and his earnings to $293,988.

I love him for 2-year-old races this year,” Asmussen added about running in the Champagne S. (G1, Oct. 2. and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile G1, Nov. 5). “We know what we want his next two races to be and we feel really good about them.”