Co-favorite Gun Runner, ridden by Florent Geroux, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Del Mar racetrack in Southern California, dominating one of the richest thoroughbred races in the world.
It was never really the plan to lead wire-to-wire, Geroux told broadcaster NBC.
“It was just how the race unfolded,” the jockey said. “You need to let Gun Runner be Gun Runner. Whatever is comfortable (for the horse). He is just a beast.”
Collected and West Coast, horses trained by Bob Baffert, finished second and third, respectively.
Defending champion and co-favorite Arrogate was never a factor, breaking poorly from his gate position next to the rail.
“He just doesn’t seem to get a hold of this race track,” jockey Gary Smith said, referring to the horse’s prior issues at Del Mar. “He certainly didn’t run his race today.”
Arrogate, who won the Dubai World Cup and the initial Pegasus World Cup this season, struggled to end the year and his career.
But he’ll retire at age 4 with an incredible $17 million-plus in career earnings.
Baffert was frustrated by Arrogate’s fifth-place finish.
“He’s one of the greatest horses I’ve ever trained,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 Triple Crown winner Amerian Pharoah. “He just took a step back.”
Arrogate ran his final three races at Del Mar and won none of them.
The Breeders Cup Classic is one of the richest in the world, with a $6 million total purse.
Gun Runner, a 4-year-old chestnut colt, finished the 1-1/4 mile race in 2:01.29.
Collected was able to hang just off Gun Runner’s right shoulder for much of the race, but when they came off the final turn, the champion took off and won comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths.
Speed apparently is in Gun Runner’s blood.
He was sired by Candy Ride, which in August 2003 set the track for a 1-1/4 mile race with a time of 1:59.11.