If you told me a year ago that I would eventually come to respect and admire millionaire Gunnevera as a racehorse, I wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t notice him until the winter of the 2017 Kentucky Derby (GI) trail, and I honestly didn’t find him impressive.
Bought for $16,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by his Venezuelan-born trainer, Antonio Sano, he was an on-and-off performer, scoring in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII), before being beaten by Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull Stakes (GII) and finishing third behind eventual Derby winner Always Dreaming and State of Honor in the Florida Derby (GI). But as I would come to realize later on, Gunnevera has actually experienced quite a bit of bad luck with his trips.
Along with being stopped in the stretch of the Holy Bull, Gunnevera was wide in last year’s Derby, yet still closed strongly. Adding to his career bad luck, the liver-chestnut colt was reported to have bled in the Preakness Stakes (GI), which undoubtedly cost him a better placing.
It wasn’t until last summer’s Travers Stakes (GI) that I noticed the talent of Gunnevera. He suffered a terrible trip and was stopped several times, yet the colt kept grinding it out in his typical late-running style and finished a hard-fought second ahead of fellow top 3- year-olds, but behind the dominant force known as West Coast. Though his performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) was disappointing — he finished in a dead heat with Arrogate for fifth — I believe that the Pegasus World Cup Invitational is the race where we can see him hit the board.
With his “bounce” in the Breeders’ Cup, it only means that the Pegasus may be a spot where Gunnevera could improve, especially considering Gulfstream Park is Gunnevera’s home track and he is absolutely in love with it; in fact, he has finished in the money in six of his seven races at the Southeast Florida track. The only time he finished out of the money (worse than third) was back in the summer of his 2-year-old year, when he finished fourth in only the second race of his career.
Despite the deep field of the 2018 Pegasus World Cup, Gunnevera is certainly not one overlook. This Pegasus World Cup contender’s hype has seemed to bypass this talented son of Dialed In, but with his affinity for Gulfstream and the possibility to bounce back from his performance in the Breeders’ Cup, it wouldn’t surprise if he made it into the money in the $16 million event. And maybe then, he would receive the respect he’s earned and deserves.