Labor Weekend Recap, it was an active weekend of graded action across U.S, in case you miss it Horse Racing Tote brings you all the details!

Hopeful Stakes

Asmussen on target again with Gunite

Some weekend at the Spa for Steve Asmussen. America’s all-time leading trainer by wins harvested three Grade 1s in three days – Max Player on Saturday, Echo Zulu on Sunday, and bringing up the charm with the imposing Gunite in the Hopeful on Monday. Gunite, a son of freshman sire sensation Gun Runner; the 2017 Horse of the Year who is also responsible for Echo Zulu, was runner-up in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on his previous start but left both that effort and his Labor Day rivals far behind with a scintillating performance.

Neglected at the windows because of that previous defeat, the 11-1 shot moved to the head of his division with a five-and-three-quarter-length score. “I made my move, and he was making his move by himself,” said jockey Ricardo Santana, for whom this was a fifth Grade 1 of the meet. “I was really comfortable with him the whole race. He’s getting better and better and better.”

Gunite made that move on the far turn, saving ground on the rail, sweeping past pace-setter Headline Report. The odds-on favourite Wit, slow at the gate again, followed him through on the fence and laid down a challenge at the top of the stretch, but it was short-lived and Gunite was never seriously threatened, drawing off from mid-stretch to stop the clock in 1:23 and change. Wit, whose stumble at the gate tore off pieces of his near-fore hoof; had three lengths in hand over Kevin’s Folly in third.

“He’s very durable, mentally and physically. As much pressure as we put on him [in training], he accepted it,” Asmussen, winning his third successive Hopeful, told the Blood-Horse. “I love him for more two-year-old races this year. I love his style.”

Those ‘more two-year-old races’ are expected to be the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park next month and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar in November. Asmussen trained Gun Runner to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic when the series was held at Del Mar four years ago; can history repeat itself with this hard-running son of a Gun?

Del Mar Futurity

Pinehurst shines for Baffert

Bob Baffert got the job done for the 15th time in the Del Mar Futurity, but not with the colt everyone expected. All the money and all the talk were for wide-margin maiden winner Murray, the 3-5 favourite, but the hype horse never showed and lost the race and bragging rights to his barnmate Pinehurst; a 4-1 chance.

Pinehurst had won his maiden too, but only in a half-length scramble over five furlongs. The Twirling Candy colt showed that speed early here; hustled up to take the lead inside the first furlong and never letting it go thereafter.

The opposition was stacked up behind him as they circled the turn but Mike Smith gave Pinehurst the go at the top of the stretch and he went, clearing away for a dominant success by four and a half lengths, in a time of 1:23 and one-half. The longshot Finneus came out on top in a blanket finish for the minor placings; half a length ahead of American Xperiment. Murray fell away in the stretch, trailing in a well-beaten fifth of six.

“I knew he was plenty quick, I figured I was sitting on a good horse,” said Smith, notching his first win in the Futurity. “When you ride for Bob, you ride with confidence. He puts so much foundation under them and they all come running. So glad I got to win a stakes at

Del Mar, and best to do it with a Grade 1.”

Baffert, who won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante the previous afternoon with another winner-of-one in Grace Adler, has a master’s touch with young horses and has a formidable arsenal for the juvenile events at the Breeders’ Cup back at Del Mar. “Our program is all about young horses,” he said. “I’m just fortunate, blessed, to have the clientele to back me.” Pinehurst is now carded for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and appears the best of the west-coast division; although it’s uncertain whether he will race again before then.

Bernard Baruch Handicap

Daddy gets the job done

Tell Your Daddy ended a 12-race losing streak stretching back 18 months when taking advantage of a moderate renewal of the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, wiring a short field to land his first stakes-race win.

The five-year-old Scat Daddy gelding, trained by Tom Morley, benefited from the scratch of morning-line favourite En Wye Cee by getting his own way on the lead under John Velazquez. The odds-on L’Imperator had a cut at him at the top of the stretch and No Word harried him all the way to the line; but Tell Your Daddy ($7.90) kept his head in front by half a length, stopping the clock in 1:44 and three-fifths.

“The lack of other pace made all the difference,” said Velazquez. “Our plan was to go to the lead and hope to hold off the other horses, and that’s what he did.”

Winstar Mint Million Stakes

Pixelate is much too sharp

The Godolphin empire has had a magnificent summer on both sides of the Atlantic; and the boys in blue cashed another big cheque with Pixelate in the Mint Million at Kentucky Downs.

Joel Rosario, a five-time winner on the card; rode a patient race on the four-year-old colt, keeping him well away from the pace until bringing him very wide on the turn. On straightening up he took dead aim at Somelikeithotbrown and Pixelate ($11.20) smoked past at the sixteenth-pole; drawing off to beat that rival by two and a half lengths in a time of 1:34 and change. Monarchs Glen rallied from last place early for third, two lengths further back.

“Today was his day, he deserved it,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this horse yet. He’s improving.”

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