Nominees Released for Dec. 23 Road to the Derby Kickoff Day: Gun Runner and Untapable Stakes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kevin Kilroy
Notes Writer/Media Relations
Eight additional stakes to be run Dec. 23
New Orleans, La (December 13, 2023) – Nominations for Road to the Derby Kickoff Day’s eight scheduled stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Saturday Dec. 23 have been released. The day’s headline races include the 3rd running of the $100,000 Gun Runner and the $100,000 Untapable Stakes for fillies. Both stakes award 10-5-3-2-1 points as the final 2-year-old Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races of the calendar year. The Gun Runner closed with 25 nominations; the Untapable with 18.
Post positions for the Dec. 23 card, which also includes the Sugar Bowl, Letellier, Tenacious, Richard R. Scherer Memorial, Blushing KD, and Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes will be drawn on Saturday, Dec. 16. First post is scheduled for noon CT.
Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Gun Runner is named for the local winner of the 2016 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. In 2021, the inaugural running featured the Kentucky Derby 148 exacta, as Epicenter won and Rich Strike finished fifth. Jace’s Road’s path to Kentucky Derby 149 began with winning the 2022 edition.
Brad Cox leads all trainers with seven Gun Runner nominees, including Godolphin’s homebred Nash, who broke his maiden going two turns on Nov. 12 at Churchill Downs, winning by 10 1/4 lengths.
Steve Asmussen has a quartet of horses nominated to the Gun Runner including Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Risk It, who has a second-place finish in the Iroquois (G3) and a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) on his resume. Winchell Thoroughbreds and Asmussen teamed up to win the 2021 Gun Runner with Epicenter.
Other top nominees to the Gun Runner include: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables’ Next Level, who broke his maiden on Thanksgiving at Fair Grounds for trainer Keith Desormeaux and has a third-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) on his resume; Red White and Blue Racing’s Neat, a Constitution colt trained by Rob Atras who has two wins on the turf, including an open-lengths, first-level allowance score going 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds; and Greg McDonald’s homebred Footprint, a son of Dialed In sporting a 3-1-1-0 record, having won on debut at Keeneland this fall for trainer Ken McPeek.
McPeek also boasts four Untapable nominees, including Brownwood Farm’s homebred Sistina Chapel, who along with her maiden win has never finished out of the exacta in four starts, and Dixiana Farms’ Band of Gold, who broke her maiden when debuting on Churchill Downs’ Stars of Tomorrow II card. Top among Cox’s list-leading five Untapable nominees is Full of Run Racing and Madakat Stables’ Alpine Princess who has two impressive wins along with her 7th-place finish in the Darley Alcibiades (G1), and the Rags to Riches winner West Sunset, a Gary and Mary West homebred who finished eighth in the Golden Rod (G2). Phil Bauer nominates three fillies to the Untapable; Tom Amoss, two; and Steve Asmussen nominates Whisper Hill Farm’s Gun Runner filly, Perfect Shot.
The Untapable is run across 1 mile 70 yards. In 2022 Pretty Mischievous began her road towards winning the 2023 Kentucky Oaks with a victory in the Untapable for trainer Brendan Walsh, which she followed up with a victory in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) before finishing second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
The list of nominees and the past performances for all eight stakes to be run at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Dec. 23 can be found here: https://bit.ly/471HZ9Y.
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 16 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 152nd Thoroughbred Racing Season–highlighted by the 111th running of the Louisiana Derby–will run from Nov. 17, 2023 through March 24, 2024. More information is available online at www.fgno.com.