SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— The Estate of Scott Zimmerman’s Runninsonofagun has shown up in nearly all of his races, boasting an 8-for-9 in-the-money record with over $233,000 in earnings for trainer John Toscano, Jr. The bay colt’s record includes graded stakes placings in his last three outings, topped by a third-place effort at odds of 41-1 on Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga Race Course.
“He’s taken every step. He’s just gotten better and better with us and he’s a late foal, so we kind of thought he’d get better through the summer. Since he came up here, he’s blossomed,” said Toscano, Jr.’s son and assistant, John Toscano, III.
A gelded son of Gun Runner, Runninsonofagun started his career with a third on debut in November at Churchill Downs before winning a maiden claimer at Aqueduct Racetrack in December, an effort in which he was haltered by his current connections for $40,000. After another win in an optional claimer, his conditioner decided to give the $16,000 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale graduate a chance in the Grade 3 Gotham, checking in a non-threatening sixth behind the victorious Morello.
“You don’t expect to claim a Gun Runner. I call him the ‘Ugly Duckling’ because he was a $16,000 2-year-old but he’s just blossomed,” said Toscano, III. “In his first start, he didn’t break good, but he was rushed up between horses and he kind of had horse but then flattened out down the lane. He ran sneaky good. Bill Morey claimed him that day for $30,000 and then took him to New York and ran him for 40. There was a three-way shake and we got lucky.”
Runninsonofagun bounced back well in his next outing, shipping to Parx Racing to pick up an optional claiming score by 4 3/4 lengths before earning his first placing at stakes level in Belmont’s Gold Fever 2 3/4 lengths behind New York-Bred Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Senbei. He followed with a second to Charge It in the Grade 3 Dwyer in July at Belmont.
“The Gotham I thought was a reach at the time, but we said we’d try,” said Toscano, III. “After that, we took a step back at Parx and won there and then he got better and better.”
Runninsonofagun now boasts two graded placings at Saratoga, finishing a closing third in the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 31 at odds of 56-1 and defeating an assortment of accomplished rivals that include multiple Grade 1-placed Pappacap and 2021 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Corniche. He added blinkers in his next start to finish just four lengths back of the well-regarded Jack Christopher in his Grade 1 debut in the Allen Jerkens.
“To get a Grade 1 placing at Saratoga with a horse we claimed for $40,000 is special,” Toscano, III said. “He gives his best. He was always a good training horse, so we always had high expectations for him. He’s never disappointed us.”
Runninsonofagun’s accomplishments this summer are even more meaningful to Toscano, III and his father after the gelding’s owner, Scott Zimmerman, who died unexpectedly in June. A longtime family friend, Zimmerman loved horse racing and was involved in the industry for many years. His wife, Karen, now races Runninsonofagun under the name The Estate of Scott Zimmerman.
“This horse was one of his owner’s favorites. It was devastating for us. He used to come to the barn and wouldn’t say anything. He’d run to the stall and bring peppermints. He’d go see the horse first and then he’d come see us second,” Toscano, III said, with a laugh.
The next stop for Runninsonofagun will likely be the Grade 3 Gallant Bob sprinting six furlongs on September 24 at Parx, and Toscano, III said he is sure the gutsy gelding has someone looking out for him each time he steps on the racetrack.
“He’s got his whole career ahead of him, and I think he’s got a little help from Scotty,” said Toscano, III. “Every time he runs, I say, ‘Scotty, help us out here. Give us a push, Scotty.’”
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Runninsonofagun (NYRA/Coglianese)