Gun Runner, with Florent Geroux aboard, made a strong case for Horse of the Year honors with a 2 1/4-length victory in the $6 million, Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday, Nov. 4.
TVG Pacific Classic hero Collected came in second, while West Coast, owned by Gary and Mary West of Rancho Santa Fe, rounded out the top three. Defending champion and race favorite Arrogate finished in a dead heat for fifth.
The race served as the finale of the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, which was hosted by Del Mar for the first time.
“Del Mar, its staff and the community of San Diego absolutely shone for this Breeders’ Cup,” said Joe Harper, president and general manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “I could not be more proud of the effort that was put forth by everyone at our racetrack and all the folks in San Diego who jumped on board for this marvelous event and made it into something spectacular. This was racing at its best; it was Del Mar at its best; and it was San Diego being all it could be. It was a complete winner.”
Along with West Coast, several other horses with local connections competed in the Breeders’ Cup, including Paradise Woods (third-$2 million, Grade I Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff; co-owned by Marty Wygod, Rancho Santa Fe); Finest City (eighth-$1 million, Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint; owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds, Rancho Santa Fe); and Hunt (13th-$4 million, Grade I Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf; owned by Michael House, Rancho Santa Fe).
The two-day attendance for the Breeders’ Cup was 70,420. For the comfort of its guests and because of Del Mar’s smaller capacity, Breeders’ Cup limited ticket sales to 37,500 for each day, according to a news release.
The two-day on-track wagering total of $25,181,317 was the highest for the event, which expanded from one day to two in 2007, and was a 21.4 percent increase over the two-day total of $20,742,847 in 2016, when it was held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
Saturday’s full-card on-track handle of $15,981,250 was the highest since 2006, the last year the Breeders’ Cup Championships were conducted over one day.
Fall season racing at Del Mar continues through Nov. 26.