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Last Gunfighter, Brigand to Duel at Big A

Last Gunfighter and Brigand, both 4-year-olds, will attempt to win their first stakes open to older horses when they compete in Saturday’s $75,000 Evening Attire at Aqueduct Racetrack.

 

At 4, Last Gunfighter, Brigand and long shot Burned Bridges are the young guns of the Evening Attire, which also took entries from 5-year-olds Norman Asbjornson, Scotus, Isn’t He Perfect, and Arlo.

 

After going winless in four starts in Louisiana and Arkansas to begin his career, Last Gunfighter was transferred to trainer Chad Brown over the summer and has subsequently won three straight.

 

A 2 ½-length maiden winner at Belmont Park in October, Last Gunfighter showed his mettle when he out-fought Big Business in an extended duel to take an optional claimer by a nose on November 21 at Aqueduct. The John D. Gunther homebred enters the Evening Attire off a 4 ¾-length victory in the slop in the Raymond Earl overnight stakes for 3-year-olds on December 9.

 

All three starts came at one mile around one turn. The Evening Attire will be his first race beyond one mile since he was second by a neck in a 1 1/16-mile maiden around two turns on March 30 at Oaklawn Park.  

 

“When he arrived at the barn, Chad liked him,” said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Chad Brown. “He had previously run some good races, and he’s coming along and maturing and progressively getting better. So far, he has handled everything well. The other horses might have more experience, but in his training and his races, he has done everything maturely.”

 

Ramon Dominguez will ride Last Gunfighter, the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, for the first time in the Evening Attire. The duo will depart from post position 5.

 

Brigand, a New York-bred from the barn of California-based trainer Bob Baffert, finished second in the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct and Mike Lee at Belmont in the first half of 2012 and has been training at Belmont since September. After winning a pair of optional claimers for state-breds, Brigand made a pair of starts against open company, finishing second in an optional claimer in October at Belmont and winning the City of Laurel stakes for 3-year-olds on December 8 at Laurel Park.

 

Like Last Gunfighter, Brigand will be stretching out from one turn to two turns, with the City of Laurel having been contested at seven furlongs.

 

Brigand, who carries the colors of Kaleem Shah, was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite and drew post position 2.

 

Thomas McClay and Harry Nye’s Norman Asbjornson has been a frequent competitor at Aqueduct going back to 2011, the year he finished second in the Grade 3 Gotham, fourth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, and second in the Flying Chevron overnight stakes. Last March, he was third in the Big A’s Grade 3 Excelsior. He’ll be making his first start since finishing second in the Swatara on November 21 at Penn National. The Swatara winner, San Pablo, returned to take the Queens County at Aqueduct.

 

Javier Santiago, who rode Norman Asbjornson in the Flying Chevon, will be reunited with the ridgling on Saturday. Norman Asbjornson, the 4-1 morning-line third choice, drew the rail.

 

Arlo, owned by Jane Gilbert, became a stakes winner in his 29th and most recent start, taking the Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve at Parx Racing. In 2012 he amassed a 5-3-3 record in 11 starts, with all but one race coming at Parx.

 

Jose Luis Flores, aboard Arlo for 13 straight races, will have the assignment once again on Saturday. Arlo will leave from post 7 at 8-1 on the morning line.

 

 

 

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