Gun Song Fires Best Shot in Black-Eyed Susan

Gun Song | Horsephotos


BALTIMORE, MD — On a day where the track was proving kind to front-runners, Gun Song (Gun Runner) benefitted from a text-book ride by Hall of Famer John Velazquez to give Mark Hennig a win for longtime client Lee Lewis in Pimlico's Friday feature, the GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan S. The 14-race card concluded with record handle of $28.4 million, up from $28.2 million one year ago.

Breaking slightly inward from post 5, the chestnut cruised into contention, positioning herself on the flank of 18-1 shot Jeanne Marie (Speightster) while Corposo (Vino Rosso) and Call Another Play (Audible) were in close pursuit through an opening quarter in :24.20. Inching up on the pacesetter after an equally pokey half-mile in :49.47, the 2-1 favorite allowed Jeanne Marie to inch ahead momentarily as they exited the far turn. With Velazquez visibly clocking his competition heading to the quarter pole, he gave his filly the cue, she gained command in early stretch. Given a couple of reminders, although she didn't seem to need them, she coasted home an easy 3 1/4-length winner over Corposo with Call Another Play a head back in third. Whocouldaskformo (Uncle Mo) completed the superfecta.

“I was a little concerned of me taking too much hold of her,” said Velazquez. “I didn't want to do that. But they were going so slow. She got relaxed on the backstretch and we were going so slow, so I was thinking that, hopefully, when I let her go, I didn't choke her down.”

He added, “But once I put my hands down at the three-eighths pole, she was relaxed. When I asked her at the quarter pole, she responded nicely.”

The victory marked the first win in the race for Hennig, while it was a record-setting fifth score for Velazquez, who also won with Added Gold (1998), Roar Emotion (2003), Spun Sugar (2005) and In Lingerie (2012).

“I was anticipating more pressure from the outside,” said Hennig. “We didn't get it–when I saw the three-quarters in 1:13, I thought, that's two seconds faster than they just stopped going a sixteenth of a mile [shorter in the previous race]. But I was pleased to see her go on. Turning for home, I could see she was pretty strong.”

He added, “Other than her last race, she always finishes very well. In my heart, I knew she was a good horse. I didn't have any doubts that she was a good horse. I had a little doubt about the distance after that last race, but I didn't have enough doubt to not try this.”

A debut winner going six furlongs at Aqueduct last October, Gun Song was third to next-out Letellier Memorial S. winner Leslie's Loot (Fast Anna) in the slop at that venue while adding a furlong against allowance foes in December. She gave 'TDN Rising Star' and future GI Central Bank Ashland S. winner Leslie's Rose (Into Mischief) all she could handle in a Gulfstream optional claimer Jan. 11 and went one better with an impressive 5 3/4-length win going a mile at the Hallandale oval Feb. 9, but could do no better than fourth when trying two turns for the first time in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks Mar. 30.

“I think she got tired last time,” added Velazquez. “And then I worked her last week [5f, 1:00.30 at Belmont May 9], and I knew she was ready. I knew this time she was quite ready for it.”

Of the runner-up and second choice in the wagering, trainer Peter Eurton said, “I am very proud of her. I think she is still very green. I am taking nothing away from the winner. She ran huge.”

Pedigree Notes:
With the Black-Eyed Susan victory, Gun Song became the 30th black-type and 22nd graded stakes winner for her sire, Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Gun Song, a $400,000 OBS March purchase by Lee Lewis, is out of graded winner and Grade I placed Nicole H. The daughter of Mr. Greerye is also responsible for an unraced juvenile colt by War of Will named Nicole's Will, and a colt, foaled this season, by Practical Joke.

Of his relationship with owner Lewis, Hennig explained, “[I've been with him] Forty years. I was an assistant for Wayne Lukas at the time. Lee and I just always had a good relationship from that day forward. Last year, I told him I had a bloodstock agent I wanted to team up with. We'd been trying to buy horses for [Lewis] without any help. It was hard because we just don't have the manpower between [wife] Rosemary and I to go and look at all the horses at Keeneland and all the 2-year-olds in training. Phil Hager of Taproot Bloodstock has done a good job. This was the first filly we bought. We're off to a good start.”


Friday, Pimlico
GEORGE E. MITCHELL BLACK-EYED SUSAN S.-GII, $300,000, Pimlico, 5-17, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:51.39, ft.
1–GUN SONG, 118, f, 3, by Gun Runner
                1st Dam: Nicole H (GSW & GISP, $811,144),
                                by Mr. Greeley
                2nd Dam: Hot Chipotle, by Victory Gallop
                3rd Dam: Cajun Cat, by Storm Cat
Ylg '22 KEESEP; $400,000 2yo '23 OBSMAR). O-R. Lee Lewis;
B-Marianne Stribling (KY); T-Mark A. Hennig; J-John R.
Velazquez. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 6-3-1-1, $311,340.
Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Corposo, 118, f, 3, Vino Rosso–Manki, by Arch.
O-Madaket Stables LLC and Slam Dunk Racing; B-Nick Cosato
(KY); T-Peter Eurton. $60,000.
3–Call Another Play, 120, f, 3, Audible–Past as Prelude,
by Bernardini. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O/B-R. Larry Johnson
(MD); T-Michael J. Trombetta. $30,000.
Margins: 3 1/4, NK, 3 1/4. Odds: 2.30, 3.00, 9.60.
Also Ran: Whocouldaskformo, Lemon Muffin, Ringy Dingy, Jeanne Marie, Recharge.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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