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Gun Runner 9-5 favorite for Breeders’ Cup Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Gun Runner, the top older horse on the East Coast, is the slight 9/5 favorite for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Del Mar.

He breaks from the No. 5 post while defending champion Arrogate starts from the rail as the 2-1 second choice.

Del Mar is hosting the $28 million, 13-race Breeders’ Cup for the first time. The season-ending championships open with four races on Friday followed by nine, including the Classic, on Saturday.

Gun Runner arrives on a three-race winning streak, all Grade 1 stakes, for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4-year-old posted dominant victories in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Whitney and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga. His last defeat was to Arrogate in Dubai.

Arrogate, the world’s all-time leading money earner with $17.3 million, is one of four Classic runners trained by Bob Baffert. He also sends out Collected (6-1), Mubtaahij (12-1) and Travers winner West Coast (6-1) in the Classic, the richest race of the weekend.

3 jockeys, 3 trainers and 4 thoroughbreds finalists for HOF

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Jockeys Robby Albarado, Corey Nakataki and Craig Perret are among 10 finalists on the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame ballot.

Also on the ballot released Thursday were thoroughbreds Blind Luck, Gio Ponti, Havre de Grace and Heavenly Prize, and trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs and David Whiteley.

Votes from two-thirds of the nominating committee were necessary to qualify as finalists and the rule capping the number of inductees at four has been eliminated.

Hall of Fame ballots will be mailed to the voting panel on March 1. Results of the voting on the contemporary candidates will be announced April 16. Those who receive a majority of the votes will be elected.

The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 3.

Texts reveal extent of doping scandal in Aussie horse racing

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MELBOURNE, Australia — A newspaper has revealed text messages between a leading trainer and stable staff involved in a doping scandal that resulted in eight persons being charged and may have included the 2015 Melbourne Cup, Australia’s richest and most prestigious horse race.

The Herald Sun in Melbourne said Wednesday the texts, uncovered by integrity investigators, detailed conversations over the alleged administration of illegal doses of performance-enhancing sodium bicarbonate in a practice known as “tubing” just before a race.

The newspaper said the most explosive text came on the eve of the 2015 Melbourne Cup where a trainer and stable hand discussed using “top-ups,” allegedly a reference to a mix of prohibited substances often administered within minutes of competition.

The stable hand responds that he’ll need a “wheelbarrow” to carry them all after the trainer requests the top-up. He then adds: “I’ll be walking funny, got two Cup horses as well.”

The eight persons charged last month face 271 offenses since 2010.

“The Integrity Services Department and our stewards have worked swiftly to fully investigate these matters resulting in the laying of charges,” Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said when the charges were announced in January.