Gunite Runs Down Bango To Capture Aristides

June 3, 2023

Gunite powers past Bango to take the Aristides under Tyler Gaffalione (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Winchell Thoroughbreds’ crack sprinter Gunite ran down Bango in deep stretch to deny the runner-up a third straight victory in Saturday’s 35th running of the $224,500 Aristides (Listed) and a record-equaling 11th victory at Churchill Downs.

Gunite, who also excels at Churchill Downs, clocked six furlongs over a “fast” track in 1:08.46 under Tyler Gaffalione, who rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Asmussen won the Aristides for record fifth time. His other triumphs in the race came with Mountain General (2003), Riley Tucker (2010), Rothko (2012) and Volatile (2020).

Gunite, who defeated Bango by 1 ¾ lengths, won for the fourth time in seven starts at Churchill Downs.

Strava and Sibelius ran a scorching opening quarter mile in :21.71 with Bango tracking from third and Gunite following in fourth. Sibelius and Bango engaged Strava around the turn as Gunite sat just behind the three-wide trio, who passed the half-mile marker in :44.92.

At the top of the stretch, Bango emerged as the leader but the pursuing Gunite was tipped out by Gaffalione. Gunite grinded down the stretch, took the lead at the sixteenth pole and inched clear late for his seventh career stakes win.

“He sat a really comfortable trip from just off the pace,” Gaffalione said. “He broke a little bit slower but settled in nicely to stride. He’s a very exciting horse and can tell keeps maturing with age.”

Now age 4, Gunite won the Grade I Hopeful at 2. His 3-year-old season featured victories in the Maxfield, Amsterdam (GII), Harrods Creek and Perryville. His 2023 campaign began with a victory in the King Cotton at Oaklawn and was followed by a second-place finish in the $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (GIII) and a third in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) in the Middle East.

Gunite, the odds-on 4-5 favorite, paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10. Bango, at 5-2 under John Velazquez, returned $3.42 and $2.40. Tejano Twist was another two lengths back in third under Chris Landeros and paid $2.62 to show at odds of 8-1.

Sibelius and Strava completed the order of finish.

“I thought he ran a really good race and ended up being second best to a really nice horse,” said Greg Foley, trainer of Bango. “This race could have been a Grade I with these horses in it. We’ll regroup with him and hopefully get back to the winner’s circle next time. (Velazquez) told me he may have moved a little bit too soon but he still ran a really hard race against a quality winner.”

Gunite, who banked $139,000, improved his record to 8-5-2 with purse earnings of $1,749,509 in 17 starts.

Gunite is a son of Gun Runner out of the Cowboy Cal mare Simple Surprise. He was bred in Kentucky by his owner Ron Winchell.

“Just like his sire Gun Runner, he seems to get better with age,” Asmussen said. “We’re very fortunate to train a horse like Gunite. We’ve noticed as he’s gotten older he has gotten faster and that’s a great sign moving forward for his campaign.”

The Aristides is named in honor of the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875.

@jonathanstettin Thank you. This is a truly beautiful tribute to a racing legend. Good to hear the true story of what happened that day.

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