Steve Asmussen ranks second all-time in wins among North American trainers with 7,817 victories and he ranks third in earnings with $264,475,267. He has won five Breeders’ Cup races including the 2007 Classic with Curlin. He has four horses entered this year, though Tap Daddy is on the also-eligible list for the Juvenile Turf.
GUN RUNNER (Classic): Since getting beat by Arrogate in the $10 million Dubai World Cup he has come back to win three Grade 1 races in North America by a combined 22 ½ lengths.
He is winless in three starts at 1 ¼ miles, but his connections believe he’s better equipped to get the distance in November of his four-year-old season than he was in November of his three-year-old season when he finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
“It’s safe to say we’re dealing with more horse this year than we were last year,” Asmussen said. “He’s faster. Numbers-wise his Razorback [in February] was better than the Clark [last November]. He started off the year better than he finished last year and knock on wood he has one more in him.”
Shipped to California five weeks out from the Breeders’ Cup and has trained extremely well first at Santa Anita then in his final workout at Del Mar on Monday.
IRON FIST (Dirt Mile): Has really come to hand over the last two months, winning three of his last four starts, albeit mostly against competition far inferior to what he faces in this spot. He last raced at Del Mar in the fall of 2015 where he won an allowance race going one mile when trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
“He’s trained superbly out here,” Asmussen said. “I am very concerned about his inside draw, all the pace, a lot of clay in this racetrack as far as the kickback will be pretty heavy; he will have to accept that to run his best.”
SNAPPER SINCLAIR (Juvenile Turf): Has gone 2-for-2 on turf, winning a 5 1-2-furlong race over firm ground at Saratoga in August and coming back three weeks later to win a stakes over good ground at Kentucky Downs, in a race where laid up close to a pedestrian pace and closed extremely well.
“The Juvenile colts on turf can be quite the adventure with that many two-year-olds running around tight turns, but he has a lot of ability and great acceleration,” Asmussen said. “If he has a fortunate trip he has enough ability to win the race.”