Gun Runner succeeds at Fair Grounds

If the 2016 Louisiana Derby seemed familiar, it’s because we saw the exact same race last February when it was called the Risen Star Stakes. Once again Gun Runner took the win. Once again Candy My Boy set the pace. And once again, there was major disappointment for Mo Tom.

However, this has more to do with Gun Runner showing up for the second time at a major stakes race at Fair Grounds and putting together another scintillating performance. It’s unreasonable to further doubt Gun Runner. He’s a very strong runner and one that will perhaps steal some attention when the Kentucky Derby rolls around.

Jockey Florent Geroux was quietly confident in Gun Runner’s talent. “He has so many gears. He settles really nicely, and when you ask him to go, he has a nice turn of foot,” the rider quipped. “Hopefully we can make a nice run the first Saturday in May.”

That part seems to be a given at this point.

One of the reasons that Gun Runer’s victory was a stunner was his lack of hype leading up to it. His win at the Risen Star Stakes in February was chalked up to an error by Mo Tom down the stretch. Unfortunately, the same thing happened in this race.

Mo Tom was the heavy favorite and was picking up a head of steam down a clogged home stretch before he was forced to check hard behind Candy My Boy. Trainer Tom Amoss was thoroughly disappointed in the outcome but seemed more upset with the decisions made by rider Corey Lanerie who took Mo Tom to the inside rail early on. That proved to be a massive, tactical error.

“I am surprised,” Amoss said. “It’s so hard to watch something like that with all the preparation we do. We will make sure he’s OK before we make any other decisions.”

To his credit, Lanerie assumed the blame for being unable to handle Mo Tom properly. “I doubt they’ll let me sit on him again. He’s a great horse.”

Mo Tom wasn’t the only big disappointment of the Louisiana Derby as Greenpointcruaser sailed in with a devastating seventh place finish that all but ends any hype around his Triple Crown hopes. Their backers were had plenty to be upset about after they picked up the most action at the window leading in to the race. Greenpiontcrusader had $145,835 behind him while Mo Tom garnered the most action with $197,642.

Despite the loss, Mo Tom showed some quality speed and the singular burst he flashed before having to slam on the brakes gives hints that he could’ve pressed Gun Runner for the win. There’s a lot of work to do between now and then, but you can tell by the amount of money behind the three-year old that horse players believe in his ability. It will just take some breathing time for his handlers and connections to remind themselves of that  as well.

For the win Gun Runner paid out $9.80, $5.60 and $3.60. Tom’s Ready was the big profit generator of the day as a stunning surprise with a $24.00 and $12.40 return for his second place finish holding 30/1 odds. The 8/1 Dazzling Gem reeled in $5.80 for the show.

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