The win was visually impressive, but while this was a good effort from Gun Runner, it probably wasn't a Grade I-level performance. After getting a perfect trip, he finished out the 9-furlong race a full second slower than older males took in winning the New Orleans Handicap (USA-II) at the same distance three races earlier on the card. While the New Orleans field included several nice horses, none of them have any pretensions of being near the top of their division. Gun Runner's task was also made easier by the fact that Mo Tom was stopped cold while trying to come up the inside; had the Uncle Mo colt had a clear run, the race home might well have been more interesting.
On the plus side, Gun Runner's closing fractions were very close to those posted by S'maverlous in the New Orleans Handicap, and the colt got another confidence-building win without having too much knocked out of him. The question now is, what next? If he trains up to the Kentucky Derby, he will have a six-week layoff between races. That might be good, or it might cause him to lose sharpness. A run in the Arkansas Derby (USA-I) would provide more seasoning, not to mention a shot at a prized Grade I win and the winner's share of another US$1 million purse, but would give him only three weeks to recover for the Kentucky Derby (USA-I)---no problem after an easy win, but possibly fatal if he got into a dogfight.
Still, most owners and trainers would love to be facing this kind of dilemma right now, and Steve Asmussen does have the luxury of not needing another race to get Gun Runner a Kentucky Derby berth. That allows him to play things by ear according to Gun Runner's condition and physical development. But sooner or later, Gun Runner is going to face tougher competition and a less than ideal trip, and that is the point at which we'll find out his true caliber.