Gun Runner, Mor Spirit and Creator get in final Derby work

  • By GARY B. GRAVES
  • Tuesday, May 3, 2016 1:01am
  • News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A day after storms drenched Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby horses Mor Spirit, Gun Runner and stablemate Creator enjoyed sunny skies and solid footing in their final workouts for racing’s marquee event.

All three came through Monday’s workouts in good order as a result, with newly elected Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen particularly encouraged by the showings of Gun Runner and Creator entering Saturday’s 142nd Run for the Roses. Said Asmussen, “they’re cooling out extremely well and we’re very excited for the Derby.”

Fellow Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was just as confident about Mor Spirit, his lone Derby pupil this year after guiding eventual Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and Dortmund here last May. The colt covered five furlongs in 59.80 with jockey Gary Stevens aboard.

“It went just as planned,” Baffert said. “Gary was happy with him. He loves the surface. He goes over it much better than Santa Anita. That’s half the battle, if they like it.”

Baffert has tempered expectations of Mor Spirit following American Pharoah as a Triple Crown champion and noted that it took 37 years before that stellar colt finally succeeded last spring.

Stevens was just as cautious and pointed out that Saturday’s challenge will be trying to knock off unbeaten Nyquist, the likely favorite in the 1-mile Derby featuring 20 entrants. But he suggested anything was possible with the colt’s impressive record — three wins and four seconds in seven starts — and his progress toward the Derby after a runner-up finish to Exaggerator in the Santa Anita Derby.

“Like Bob has said, he’s no American Pharoah, but we don’t know that yet,” said the Hall of Fame jockey, who was second in last year’s Derby aboard Firing Line.

“Maybe lightning can strike two years in a row, who knows? We’ll see what happens.”

Most important on Monday was the absence of lightning and any threatening weather on a mostly sunny morning. The track was in surprisingly great shape and gave the trio of Derby hopefuls something to work with.

Derby points leader Gun Runner, who has four wins with a fourth in the Grade 2 Kentucky Club Stakes at Churchill, ran four furlongs in 50.40. Creator, who enters sixth with 110 points after his Arkansas Derby victory nearly three weeks ago, covered the same distance in 50.60.

The performances were just what Asmussen wanted with five days remaining before the Derby, and he was thankful for the dry surface that made them possible.

“I’ve been very happy with how they’ve done here at Churchill,” Asmussen said. “The best news of the morning was the condition of the track. To come out this morning and see how good a shape it was in was very pleasant. It definitely made the morning go well.”

____

AP Freelance Writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of July 3

Here’s what to expect this week.

Courtesy Photo / Forest Service Alaska Region
Western blackheaded budworm out to lunch on Southeast Alaska Hemlock trees.
The defoliator coming to a forest near you

Tongass National Forest visitors can help document western blackheaded budworms’ impact.

A Juneau Police Department community service officer vehicle cordons off a road as officers took a man wanted on a $50,000 warrant into custody. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Police arrest wanted man following armed standoff

A shot was fired by the suspect, but no one was injured.

The executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party faces charges including driving under the influence and refusing a chemical test after a weekend traffic stop near Soldotna. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Democratic Party official faces charges after stop

The executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party faces charges including driving… Continue reading

Alaska State Troopers are helping to investigate a fatal fireworks-related accident that occurred in Gustavus early on July 5, 2022. (Juneau Empire File)
Troopers investigate fireworks-related death in Gustavus

The casualty occurred early Tuesday morning.

A very young oystercatcher chick waits for a parent.  (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Oystercatchers, pinesap and spittlebugs

At the mouth of Cowee Creek, sometime in mid-June, we’d found a… Continue reading

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 6, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mia Halloway (6) grabs a cotton candy with her dad in Savikko Park. A long string of kids stood in line to grab a cotton candy from the Twhrly Whrliy Cotton Candy stand on a bright and sunny Fourth of July afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Fun and sun mark holiday in Douglas

Hot dogs and panting pups present for festivities.

Most Read