Saturday, January 28, 2023

Gunite made a successful 4-year-old debut Saturday at Oaklawn Park, drawing off in the final furlong to win the $150,000 King Cotton S. by a widening four lengths.

The Gun Runner colt now has six stakes wins to his credit, topped by the Hopeful S. (G1) and Amsterdam S. (G2), both at Saratoga. Gunite is the second stakes winner and fourth stakes horse overall this year for Gun Runner, who topped last year’s Second-Crop sire list with a dozen stakes winners and more than $14.6 million in progeny earnings.

Gunite, off since a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in November, was heavily favored in the six-furlong King Cotton. He was eager from the gate, pressing Gar Hole through a quarter-mile in :22.43. Around the turn, Gunite inched closer to the leader and took the top spot in upper stretch. Tejano Twist made a mild rally, but Gunite pulled away easily to finish the distance in 1:08.89 over a very sloppy racetrack.

Trainer Steve Asmussen hopes Saturday’s win sets Gunite up for a run in the $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) Feb. 25 in Saudi Arabia.

“(For) a million-and-a-half, the best sprinters in the world…he needs to be as fast as he’s ever been, and today is an indication he can be,” the trainer said.

A Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, Gunite is now 7-4-1 in 14 starts and has earned $1,110,509.

Gunite is the first foal to race out of 2015 Bolton Landing S. winner Simple Surprise. The winner also has an unraced 3-yearold full sister named Surprise Attack and his dam is carrying a full-sibling set to be foaled this year.