It took WinStar Farm's homebred Commissioner seven tries to get his first graded stakes score, but the A.P. Indy colt appears to have found his best stride at the 1 3/16-mile distance.
After winning the 1 3/16-mile Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) March 28 at Gulfstream Park last time out, the 4-year-old Todd Pletcher trainee was victorious again at the distance in the $300,000 Sagamore Racing Pimlico Special Stakes (gr. III) May 15 at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO).
The 6-5 favorite tracked early leader Encryption through the first turn and an opening quarter-mile in :23.54, then pressed the pace in the backstretch, going head-to-head with Encryption through a half-mile in :48.16 and six furlongs in 1:12.74, before pulling away to win by 2 1/2 lengths over closing Page McKenney. Cat Burglar was 2 3/4 lengths back in third.
"This was awesome," Pletcher said. "I'm very happy. I loved the position he was able to get into. Once he gets into that rhythm, you can keep on cruising. Right after the Skip Away, we talked about it and decided to go to the Pimlico Special."
Commissioner took over to run a mile in 1:37.50 and hit the wire at 1:56.09 under jockey Javier Castellano.
"He was very strong today," Castellano said. "He minded so well. I was able to tuck in around the first turn and he was just galloping along. He can go :24 and :48. That's him. I didn't ask him until we turned for home. The more distance the better for him."
The winner paid $4.60, $3, and $2.40 across the board. Page McKenney delivered $5 and $2.80, and Cat Burglar brought $3 to show.
Out of the Touch Gold mare Flaming Heart, Commissioner has a 4-3-2 record from 12 starts with career earnings of $617,237.
After the race, Pletcher said Commissioner could be headed to the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (gr. II) at 1 1/2 miles June 6 at Belmont Park.