Gun Runner

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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.

Arrogate heads field for Breeders’ Cup Classic

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Defending champion Arrogate heads a full field of 14 horses for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the world’s all-time leading money earner facing off against a horse that has beaten him twice in a row in the $6 million race that includes five runners trained by Bob Baffert.

The Classic won’t include Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, Preakness winner Cloud Computing and Belmont winner Tapwrit.

Pacific Classic winner Collected, who handed Arrogate his last two losses, Whitney and Suburban winner Gun Runner, Ireland-bred Mubtaahij and Travers winner West Coast are among the 14 horses expected to run in the 1 1\4 mile Classic. The Nov. 4 race will be shown live in prime time on NBC.

The Classic field is among a total of 187 horses pre-entered Wednesday for the $28 million, 13-race Breeders’ Cup world championships at Del Mar spanning two days. The track north of San Diego is hosting the event for the first time.

A record 46 foreign horses were pre-entered, including a leading 14 by Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. New York-based Chad Brown is second with 13 horses. Coolmore Stud leads all owners with 14 pre-entries.

Baffert is going for his fourth consecutive victory in the Classic, after winning the last three years with Bayern, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and Arrogate. It would be a record if all five of his horses start in the Classic. Besides Arrogate and Collected, his other runners are Cupid, Mubtaahij and West Coast.

Final entries and the post-position draw will be Monday at Del Mar.

Besides Arrogate, there are eight returning or former champions pre-entered: Highland Reel, Drefong, Oscar Performance, Lady Eli, Champagne Room, Queen’s Trust, Finest City and Mongolian Saturday.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Arrogate will try to become the first horse since Tiznow in 2000-01 to win the Classic in consecutive years.

O’Brien’s two Classic entries are Churchill and War Decree.

Stellar Wind makes a third attempt at trying to win the $2 million Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. She was second in 2015 and fourth last year, and comes into this year’s edition undefeated in three Grade 1 starts.

U.S.-based horses have won five of the last six runnings of the $2 million Mile, and could do it again. World Approval, winner of four of five starts this year, takes on several European Group 1 winners.

The Classic winner will earn $3.3 million. For the second straight year, purses will be distributed down to the eighth-place finisher in all 13 races.

The event will open with four races on Nov. 3, followed by nine races on Nov. 4.

A maximum of 14 are allowed in each race, except the Dirt Mile, which is capped at 12. Seven of the races drew more than the allowable limits.