New York shipper Last Gunfighter earned his fourth graded stakes win of the year, closing to get the job done in the $350,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Hawthorne Racecourse Nov. 30.
Scratches took the field for the $148,500 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) from eight to five, but they didn't derail a thrilling race down the lane between victorious odds-on choice Last Gunfighter and San Pablo.
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.
Last Gunfighter overcame a troubled start and came through on the rail to win the $150,000 Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) March 23 at Aqueduct, while 2011 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Ruler On Ice finished fifth.
Notching his first win since the 2011 Travers Stakes (gr. I), Repole Stables' Stay Thirsty got the bob on Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) winner Groupie Doll in the $343,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Nov. 24.
Stay Thirsty definitively stamped himself as the 3-year-old division leader when he won the $1 million Travers (gr. I) Aug. 27 at Saratoga.
Stay Thirsty finally grabbed his breakthrough win July 30 at Saratoga when he turned in a dominating performance in the $500,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II).
Stalking favorite Bending Strings disposed of Prospective Saint in upper stretch and won the $169,350 Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) for fillies and mares as she pleased Sunday at Churchill Downs, snapping a nine-race losing streak in the process.
Challenged from all sides in deep stretch, determined front-runner Two Trail Sioux refused to give way, holding on for a one-length win in the $330,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Trainer Dallas Stewart played a hot hand Sunday at Keeneland when he wheeled back Molto Vita after only a week's rest to take the $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (gr. III) for fillies and mares.
Patiently rated at the back of the pack, Bending Strings bounded into action around the far turn, forced her way between rivals a furlong from home and drew off to win Saturday's $143,000 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico.
A wide trip and a claim of foul couldn't keep John D. Gunther's Eye of the Tiger from reaching the winner's circle following the $350,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) on Saturday at Arlington Park.
John D. Gunther's Bending Strings relished a cutback to the seven-furlong distance of the $195,000 Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies, drawing away for her first graded stakes victory by 4 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park Saturday.
Alex Solis slipped favored Eye Of The Tiger through an opening at the rail at the head of the stretch and went on to a convincing triumph in the $103,096 Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
Canadian invader Kimberlite Pipe went gate-to-wire Saturday to capture the $150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne by a half-length.
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