What can I say, I love Thoroughbred horse racing. And the primary reason I love this sport so much, is the greatest athletes in the world that are more than willing to give us their all one race after another. One such horse is Last Gunfighter, and here are half a dozen reasons why I've become so fond of him.
1. He’s prolific - When Last Gunfighter crossed the finish line first in yesterday’s Hawthorne Gold Cup, not only did it mark his eighth win in his last eleven starts, but it was also his fifth stakes victory of the year. By way of comparison, Horse of the Year candidates, Wise Dan and Will Take Charge have six and five this year, respectively.
2. Consistency is the thing - Win or lose, the Chad Brown charge seems to always run his race. Since starting for the first time in graded stakes racing seven starts ago, Last Gunfighter has strung together Beyer speed figures of 100-100-103-102-99-105-100. In the money in 13-of-15 career races, the new millionaire has never once failed to cash a check. What more can an owner ask?
3. Weight and pace make little difference - In winning yesterday, he gave his closest competition at least five pounds, just as he had done in his previous stakes win. He also overcame slow early fractions to rally for the win. When it looked like Mister Marti Gras might have him measured at the sixteenth pole, Last Gunfighter simply kicked it into another gear and was only going to widen his advantage if they went any farther. Winning rider, Joe Bravo remarked that it took everything he had to pull him up after the 1 ¼ mile race was over.
4. Distance does not seem to matter much to Last Gunfighter - In 2012, he finished his sophomore season with three straight wins at a flat mile, including his initial stakes win. Now, after closing well in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his previous start, and the way he finished things off in yesterday’s win, the son of First Samurai gives every indication of being equally adept at the classic ten furlong distance.
5. Have saddle will travel, could be his motto - In each of his four graded stakes wins this year, the John D. Gunther homebred won at different racetracks: Aqueduct, Pimlico, Monmouth, and Hawthorne. Throw in solid efforts in Belmont’s Suburban, and Santa Anita’s BC Classic, and it’s clear that he doesn’t mind travel, nor does he need his favorite track to run his race.
6. And last but not least, Last Gunfighter is not afraid to win - Not only has he won more than half of his lifetime starts (8-of-15), but he strung together six straight wins beginning with his first start after transferring from the Helen Pitts barn to Chad Brown, last October, through May’s Pimlico Special. He has lost a few since, as he stepped up into racing’s elite, but even after a tough one, he has proven more than willing to come back and win the next one, as evidenced by his Iselin and Hawthorne Gold Cup victories.