05/17/2014 4:51PM

Class Leader's head hits wire first in Sir Barton

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Barbara D. Livingston
Class Leader (left) surges in deep stretch to beat Life In Shambles by a head in the Sir Barton Stakes.

BALTIMORE – The late-developing Class Leader took another step forward on Saturday at Pimlico when he rallied strongly to capture the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds.

 Class Leader ($5.60), the favorite, was seventh in the eight-horse field midway through the race, but came charging down the center of the track under jockey James Graham to nail Life In Shambles in the closing yards and prevail by a head.

 It was another length back to Six Spot in third.

 Class Leader completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.79.

 He’s A Chance set off for the early lead and, considering the way this surface has been playing the last two days, set fairly quick fractions of 23.50 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.92 seconds for a half-mile, with Life in Shambles and Six Spot his closest pursuers in the field of eight.

 Class Leader, meanwhile, dropped nearly 12 lengths off the pace in the opening quarter, and still trailed by six lengths after six furlongs in 1:11.35, but by then he was making an inexorable march to victory.

 “He ran great. He settled perfect,” Graham said.

 Class Leader has now won three of his last four starts, the lone setback coming when he was fourth in the Illinois Derby last month. His trainer, Neil Howard, said he and the colt’s owner and breeder, Will Farish, were inclined to continue to bring Class Leader along in a conservative manner.

 “He’s a little bit lackadaisical, a little laid back,” Howard said. “We’d like to take our time.

 “He’s kind of a big colt, still growing up, but a very nice colt. I think he has a future. He had to work, but that’s the kind of horse he is. It just takes a while for him to get his feet under him.”

 Class Leader, a colt by Smart Strike out of the Kris S. mare Class Kris, defeated maidens in his second start at Fair Grounds in February, then won a first-level allowance there in March, both those races coming at a mile and 70 yards.