Odds-on choice Last Gunfighter collared pacesetter Eighttofasttocatch in the final furlong and drew off by 4 1/4 lengths for his sixth consecutive victory May 17 in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (gr. III) in Baltimore, Md. (VIDEO).
The New York shipper has won four stakes races in a row for trainer Chad Brown and was coming off his first graded win in the Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) March 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
John D. Gunther's 4-year-old homebred son of First Samurai has not lost since being moved to Brown's stable prior to breaking his maiden in his fifth start last October at Belmont Park. The Kentucky-bred colt is out of the Sir Cat mare Saratoga Cat, a five-time winner and half sister to stakes winners Sexy Boots and Saratoga Boot.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Last Gunfighter completed the 1 3/16-mile distance in a slow time of 1:58.50 over a fast track as the 3-5 choice in a field of six. Eighttofasttocatch was second, with Richard's Kid a distant third.Last Gunfighter raced in third on the outside early as Eighttofasttocatch got loose on the lead after gaining control over Brimstone Island. Eighttofasttocatch, ridden by Forest Boyce, slowed the tempo effectively, clipping the timer in quarter mile fractions of :24.56, :49.91, and 1:14.18, while opening up by as many as three lengths. Last Gunfighter and Brimstone Island continued to vie for second with Richard's Kid a well-rated fifth under Rosie Napravnik.
Eighttofasttocatch reached the top of the stretch about 2 1/2 lengths clear of Last Gunfighter, and maintained his edge over the long Pimlico Race Course homestretch before beginning to weaken past the furlong mark. Under stout urging from Castellano, the rallying Last Gunfighter took command approaching the sixteenth pole and won as much the best.
"The horse on the lead is a good horse," Brown said. "With the softer fractions at the quarter pole, it looked like he was getting away from us a little bit. But I had a lot of confidence that Javier had the pace judged right. This horse, he's done that before in his races. He's a bit of a grinder, where it kind of looks like he loses his placing and then here he comes again.
"Once he had him collared; any horse that puts up that many Ws in a row, you know they want to get their nose on the line."
Castellano said he had dead aim on the front-runner.
"He was my target all the way. It worked out perfect," Castellano said. "At the three-eighths pole I had to use him a little bit to get him into the race, and he got into it really quick. I really liked the way he did it. Turning for home, he's a game horse and he passed the other horse and he took off. It was a great performance today."
Last Gunfighter earned $180,000 for his sixth lifetime win from 10 starts, boosting his career bankroll to $475,405. The dark bay or brown colt has not been worse than third in any of his races.
Carrying co-high weight of 124 pounds, Last Gunfighter paid $3.20, $2.10, $2.10. Eighttofasttocatch, a stakes winner in his most recent start for trainer Tim Keefe April 20 at Pimlico, returned $3 and $2.10. Richard's Kid paid $2.20. The exacta was worth $7.