04/05/2013 4:59PM

Aqueduct notes: Last Gunfighter taking five-race winning streak to Pimlico Special

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Adam Coglianese
Last Gunfighter has won five straight races, including the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct on March 23.

Last Gunfighter, a winner of five consecutive races, including the Grade 3 Excelsior on March 23, will be pointed to the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special on May 17, trainer Chad Brown said Friday.

Brown said he likes the eight weeks between races and feels his horse will handle the added distance. The Pimlico Special is run at 1 3/16 miles.

“We just keep going a little further in distance,” Brown said. “He’s a horse that looks like he’ll appreciate the added distance, and he seems to run really well with time in between starts. It’s a race that makes sense for us.”

In his five-race winning streak, Last Gunfighter has won three races at a mile, one at 1 1/16 miles and the Excelsior at 1 1/8 miles.

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Rodriguez back to work

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez was back at his Aqueduct barn Friday after serving a 20-day suspension for two positive tests for the medication flunixin.

Rodriguez, who was to start Vyjack in Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial, said he spent most of the time away in Mexico visiting family and playing video games with his daughter.

Rodriguez is back to work after it was revealed that a third horse of his, Majestic Marquet, has tested positive for an unusually high level of flunixin, also known as Banamine. Majestic Marquet won a race here March 10.

“If I knew I was coming back to this, I would have stayed there for a few more weeks,” Rodriguez joked in his barn office.

Rodriguez, the leading trainer in New York during the Aqueduct winter meet, said he will try to stay focused on his job while attorneys and his owners try to prove that this latest positive was a result of someone tampering with his horse.

“Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of this,” Rodriguez said.

Ortiz to begin suspension Thursday

Irad Ortiz Jr., the leading rider at the Aqueduct winter meet, will begin serving an eight-day suspension Thursday, according to his agent, Tony Micallef.

Ortiz received a four-day suspension from the Laurel stewards for causing interference in the early stages of the General George Handicap aboard Brigand on Feb. 18. He had four days added to the penalty for appealing.

Ortiz will utilize a stipulation that allows him to ride the stakes at Aqueduct on April 13 – he will ride Villanesca in the Grade 2 Distaff – provided he sits out another day.

Thus, after April 13, Ortiz will not ride again until April 26, opening day at Belmont.

◗ After a 10-year run, jockey Eddie Castro and agent Mike Gonzalez have split. Castro is now represented by Micallef.

Gonzalez now represents the seven-pound apprentice Manuel Franco, who is being mentored by Efraim “Pito” Rosa and Angel Cordero Jr.