The ball is now in Orb’s court. Heavily favored in the Pimlico Special, just as Orb will be in tomorrow’s Preakness Stakes, Last Gunfighter used a powerful stretch run to blow right on by the alone on the lead, Eighttofasttocatch, to win the Grade 3 Pimlico Special by an ever-widening 4 ¼ lengths. Heavy favoritism in a historic 1 3/16 mile stakes race at Pimlico is not all Last Gunfighter and Orb have in common, though. Today’s impressive win marked Last Gunfighter’s sixth straight victory after finishing 2nd or 3rd in each of his first four career starts. Meanwhile, Orb finished 3rd or 4th in his first three career starts before rattling off five straight wins, including his huge score in the Kentucky Derby last time. Can Orb match the six-race streak of Last Gunfighter and move to the brink of immortality? We’ll have to wait about 24 hours to know for sure, but for now let’s talk about the newest star of the older male division.
Not only has Last Gunfighter now won six races running, but he is also a perfect six-for-six since joining the Chad Brown barn last year. A four-year-old son of First Samurai, the dark bay colt is now 10-6-2-2 lifetime and we may be just now beginning to see how good he could become.
From a horse who did not break his maiden until seven months ago, to a horse now who already has four stakes wins, Last Gunfighter still looks to be improving. His last win in the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct, in late March, had been his best performance to date, but today’s race was probably even better, all things considered. The multiple stakes winning local, Eighttofasttocatch, had things his own way, with both an easy early lead, and slow early fractions, including hitting six furlongs in a dawdling 1:14.18. But Last Gunfighter’s late run proved to be irresistible as he rolled to an easy victory, with Richard's Kid a distant third. At 9 ½ furlongs, it was also farther than the John D. Gunther colt had ever run before. Winning trainer, Chad Brown, spoke about his stable’s winning machine after the race, “The horse on the lead is a good horse. 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. It was kind of typical of the way this horse runs. Once he had him collared; any horse that puts up that many W’s in a row, you know they want to get their nose on the line.” Meanwhile, winning rider, Javier Castellano perhaps placed the perfect punctuation point on the Pimlico Special, “It was a great performance today."
A great performance that makes you wonder just how good he may become. This certainly looks like a horse who very well could end the year in the starting gate of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There will be tougher tests to come before that, but one thing is for sure, Last Gunfighter’s future looks bright.