Runninsonofagun (#8 inside aqua cap) just beats Eastern Bay (#7 ouside black cap) to the wire for the win. Photo by Susie Raisher
Son of Gun Runner earns first graded stakes triumph
By Ryan Martin
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The Estate of Scott Zimmerman’s Runninsonofagun had lived up to his name at graded stakes level all year long, but finally secured his first high-caliber triumph with a hard-fought win against elders in Saturday’s 47th running of the six-furlong Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler for 3-year-olds and upward at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by veteran conditioner John Toscano, Jr., Runninsonofagun entered the Bold Ruler off a string of five stakes placings, four at graded level, including third-place finishes in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob on September 24 at Parx Racing and the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 27 at Saratoga Race Course. The Gun Runner gelding was a bridesmaid no more in Saturday’s test, re-rallying to best Eastern Bay by a nose to earn his fourth career triumph.
Runninsonofagun exited post 8 under Kendrick Carmouche and was in sixth position down the backstretch as Meraas took control through an opening quarter-mile in 22.50 seconds over the fast main track. Around the far turn, a trio of runners came onto even terms with a retreating Meraas through a half-mile in 45.77, including a five-wide Runninsonofagun, who battled longshots Greeley and Ben and Factor It In to his inside down the stretch.
In the final sixteenth, Eastern Bay, one of three Norman Cash trainees in the field, came through with a late kick and appeared poised for victory. But Runninsonofagun found his second wind in the final strides as the two horses hit the wire in tandem, stopping the clock in 1:10.07.
Eastern Bay, second in the Grade 2 Vosburgh on October 8, finished a half-length ahead of third-place finisher Factor It In. Completing the order of finish were Greeley and Ben, Drafted, Steinbeck, Jalen Journey, Jaxon Traveler, Repo Rocks and Meraas.
Carmouche said the swift early pace was beneficial.
“He was running into it well. Around the turn, I was sitting easy. He made the lead and he kind of waited, and as soon as that horse passed him, I gave him a little bit more and he laid his head down and went right back at it,” Carmouche said. “He’s been running against tough horses all summer. He finally made the lead with less horses and he just didn’t know what to do. But once that horse came up to him outside, he really laid down and ran.”
The victory provided Toscano, Jr. with his second graded stakes triumph in nearly four decades of training. His last graded win came with Sinister G, an upset winner of the Grade 2 Lane’s End [now the Jeff Ruby Steaks] at Turfway Park in 2004.
“It’s gratifying. We finally got the right race for him and he came through,” Toscano, Jr, said. “When he made that move at the three-eighths pole, I knew he would come running. When he got the lead, it was like he was waiting on horses. He started running again when that horse came alongside him. He kicked in, otherwise he would have been beat. Thank God that horse came and made him go on with it.”
Toscano, Jr. claimed Runninsonofagun for $40,000 on New Year’s Eve out of a winning maiden effort at the Big A.
“We were very fortunate to claim him. He’s by Gun Runner and it’s unbelievable how good the first crop is,” Toscano, Jr. said. “Luckily, he’s part of that group. You can’t get them for $40,000 anymore.”
Toscano, Jr. said that the spirit of his late owner, Scott Zimmerman, helped carry him to victory.
“Scotty passed away recently, and his wife [Karen Zimmerman] decided to keep the stable,” Toscano, Jr. “Luckily, she’s got a nice horse. Scotty would have been here with bells on. He never missed a race. He rode [with] him the last 70 yards and got him home.”
Carmouche said the recent passing of Runninsonofagun’s owner made the victory that much sweeter.
“I’m glad the horse is still fighting,” Carmouche said. “This is what brings people together – racehorses – I love it. This is the Sport of Kings.”
Now sporting a record of 11-4-1-5, Runninsonofagun has earned $369,700 after banking $110,000. He became only the fourth 3-year-old to defeat elders in the Bold Ruler, joining inaugural winner Chief Tamanco , Clearly Now  and Maximum Security .
Bred in Kentucky by Dattt Farm, Runninsonofagun is out of the stakes-placed Malibu Moon mare Golden Artemis.
Live racing resumes Sunday for Closing Day of the Belmont at the Big A fall meet with the 10-race Empire Showcase Day card featuring eight stakes worth $1.6 million. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.