05/15/2013 2:01PM

Pimlico: Last Gunfighter meets Richard's Kid in Pimlico Special


BALTIMORE – The Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special on Friday appears to be a tale of two horses. Last Gunfighter has been in the zone since last fall and seeks his sixth straight win. Richard’s Kid, meanwhile, is attempting to recapture some of his former glory as a multiple Grade 1 winner and a $2.3 million earner.

The Pimlico Special is part of a Black-Eyed Susan Day card that features seven stakes, the Jockey Challenge, and the Lady Legends, an allowance race showcasing such riding stalwarts as Patricia Cooksey and Barbara Jo Rubin. There is a special first post of noon Eastern.

The Pimilco Special, run over the same 1 3/16-mile distance as the Grade 1, $1 million Preakness here Saturday, also forms a new double with the second leg of the Triple Crown. The bet has a $1 minimum and must be placed prior to the Pimlico Special, which will go as the 12th of 13th races, with a post of 5:52 p.m. The Pimlico Special also is the final leg of a $250,000-guaranteed pick four.

Last Gunfighter has been unbeatable since moving to the New York circuit. He won his maiden at Belmont Park in October, then took a first-level allowance at Aqueduct in November. Last Gunfighter proceeded to knock out three straight stakes wins at Aqueduct, including the Grade 3 Excelsior in his last start March 23, a race for which he earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

“He overcame a lot of traffic to win,” said Chad Brown, who trains Last Gunfighter for his breeder, John G. Gunther.

Last Gunfighter’s rise has much to do with his development, Brown said. The 4-year-old son of First Samurai was a late foal, born in May. Last Gunfighter started his career at Fair Grounds and, after four starts, made his way to New York, where he has been perfect for Brown while racing at distances of a mile up to 1 1/8 miles in the Excelsior.

“I think [his form] is just due to the horse maturing at the right time,” Brown said. “He’s a happy, healthy horse that seems to be maturing mentally and physically at the right time. He also seems to be progressing in distance very well. Every time we stretch him out, he’s responded. It’s been a slow process, gradually stretching him out, and he’s handled it well.”

Last Gunfighter drew the outside post in a field of seven under Javier Castellano.

“He seems like he’s happiest stalking and following horses for most of the race,” Brown said. “He’s a big horse, and when he finds his stride, he really levels off and finishes his races well.”

Richard’s Kid is a seasoned pro, with 11 wins from 44 starts, including Grade 1 scores in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in 2009 and 2010. He will be racing with blinkers off Friday following an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs on May 3.

“We’ll see if it helps him out a little bit,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the equipment change.

Rosie Napravnik has the mount on Richard’s Kid, whom she last rode in April, when they finished third in the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland. O’Neill also noted that Napravnik, who earlier in her career was based at Pimlico, has even more history with Richard’s Kid.

“He’s a Maryland-bred, and ironically enough, in his debut, which I believe came at Laurel, he was ridden by Rosie Napravnik,” O’Neill said. “We’re going back to the Rosie card.”

The field also includes Eighttofasttocatch, winner of the $91,000 Henry Clark at Pimlico last month with a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 105. Forest Boyce has the mount for trainer Timothy Keefe.