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Gun Runner Stakes (Fair Grounds): An Evenly Matched Group of Seven Juveniles

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated December 21, 2022
15 min read

Gun Runner Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds!










B J Hernandez Jr

K McPeek





F Geroux

B Cox





L Saez

M Casse





C J Hernandez

M Stidham





J Vargas

L Briley





L Machado

B Colebrook





C Lanerie

W Catalano

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Gun Runner Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($55 in total)

$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Determinedly over Hayes Strike, Jace’s Road and Andthewinneris = $30

$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Hayes Strike over Determinedly, Jace’s Road and Andthewinneris = $15

$5 Exacta Box - Determinedly and Hayes Strike = $10

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Determinedly (7/2).    



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Gun Runner Stakes Predictions

The Kentucky Derby trail through New Orleans begins on Monday as an evenly matched group of seven juveniles have been entered in the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds. 

Leading the way is Hayes Strike. Trained by Kenny McPeek, he broke his maiden nicely going mile-five starts back at Ellis Park. He has run consistently better in three graded stakes attempts since. 

Most recently, the son of Connect rallied to be third, beaten only 1 1/4-lengths in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club last month at Churchill Downs.

Another colt coming out of a grade stakes race at Churchill is Jace’s Road. An impressive debut winner, the son of Quality Road came back to run a competitive third in the Grade 3 Iroquois in his second career start. 

Last out, he had all sorts of issues before the start and then faded badly in a sloppy edition of the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes. 

The only graded stakes winner in the field for the 1 1/16-mile Gun Runner is the Wayne Catalano-trained Andthewinneris, but that came on the turf. 

He rallied strongly to win the Grade 2 Bourbon at Keeneland two starts back. In his most recent start, he was seventh in the Gradel 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but was beaten less than four lengths by the winner.

As a Kentucky Derby points race, the Gun Runner Stakes will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale to the top five finishers on Saturday.

Gun Runner Stakes Predictions and Race Analysis

Hayes Strike

This son of Connect has not gotten much respect by bettors, but he has finished second, third and fourth in three graded stakes attempts. Clearly proven at the distance, he will look to finally break through in a stakes race here as he comes off a career best effort last month at Churchill Downs. 

Beaten only 1 1/4-lengths in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, he did his best running late. That’s a style that seems to suit him, and one that should be employed once again on Monday. 

With good form, good workouts over the track, and battle tested, the Kenny McPeek-trained runner must be respected and seems a likely candidate to come running once again.

Jace’s Road

Trained by Brad Cox this son of Quality Road made a nice account for himself in his first two starts. A strong debut win was followed by a good third-place finish in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, where he was involved all the way around. 

Things went south for him last time as the favorite in the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes. He dumped his rider and ran off before the race and then faded badly on a sloppy track. It seems like enough of an excuse to draw a line through that race.

If he returns to the way he performed in his first two starts, he is a major threat here. He also could be the controlling speed of the race as he runs away from Churchill Downs for the first time.


It took him a while to break his maiden, but you could see that this son of Cairo Prince was turning in some fine performance despite losing his first five races. 

After three solid tries on the turf, he returned to the dirt two starts back and was a clear second behind the very highly regarded Arabian Knight. Moving over from Keeneland to Churchill Downs, he parlayed that nice run into a 7 1/4-length romp last out. Both of those efforts came at 7-furlongs.

He will need to prove that he can handle the distance on the dirt, but the Mark Casse-trained runner showed enough at the distance on the grass to believe it will not be a problem here. He also owns good tactical speed to be involved early. He is the top pick.



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This son of Oscar Performance has run several good races on turf, including a nice rallying win in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland at the same distance of 8 1/2 furlongs which he will see here. 

A decent effort lasts out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was his fourth solid effort in four tries on the grass. On dirt, he has only run once, and although he finished just missed second in the Bashford Manor, he was nowhere near the winner. 

Classy and proven at the distance, if he can bring his best to the main track, he will have a big shot in the Gun Runner.

Raise Cain

After not doing much in his debut, this son of Violence came back a few weeks later to nicely break his maiden at Keeneland. Off that good win, he moved up to stakes company last out at Keeneland, where he made up some ground late to finish a non-threatening third in the Bowman Mill Stakes. 

All three of his races to date have come while sprinting, and the last two were good enough to believe that he rates a shot in here if he likes the bump up in distance. He’s a possibility at some odds on Monday, but I am siding with others.

Old Alliance

This son of Hard Spun scored a solid win in his debut at Laurel Park but found a much tougher field next out in allowance company at Keeneland. There he finished third of ten but was beaten more than 18 lengths by the talented winner, Giant Mischief. 

Both of his first two races came at 7 furlongs, so it is possible that the added distance of the Gun Runner will be to his liking. He is also eligible to improve in his third career start. Still, it’s hard to get too excited about his chances after the way he was beaten in his last. 

Mazing Mark

After two belated rallies in maiden races in Kentucky to begin his career, this son of Mo Town moved up to stakes company last time to win the Jean Lafitte Futurity at Delta Downs. The effort came against a much weaker field than he will face here on Monday. 

With very little early speed, he will once again need to make up a lot of ground in the stretch, and that will likely be a tough task against this field. I like others better.



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How to Watch the Gun Runner Stakes

Gun Runner Stakes Race Information

  • What: Gun Runner Stakes

  • Location: Fair Grounds

  • Time: Monday, December 26 -- 6:00 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: FanDuel TV

  • Purse: $100,000

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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

288 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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