05/17/2013 5:11PM

Pimlico Special: Last Gunfighter finds best gear late to win sixth straight

Barbara D. Livingston
Last Gunfighter pulls away in the Pimlico Special under Javier Castellano.

BALTIMORE - Last Gunfighter keeps trumping himself. He won his sixth straight race Friday in the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special, and after he ran down a loose-on-the-lead horse, his trainer, Chad Brown, called the performance Last Gunfighter’s best to date.

The Pimlico Special was one of seven stakes run on the same card as the Grade 2, $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan that was won by Fiftyshadesofhay. The Pimlico Special also was the first half of a new double that will be completed by the Preakness here Saturday. Attendance ontrack Friday was 38,957, while handle on the 13-race program from all sources was more than $13 million.

[PREAKNESS STAKES: Live updates and live video from Pimlico]

Last Gunfighter ($3.20) stalked the pace set by Eighttofasttocatch, who was clear through fractions of 24.56 seconds for the opening quarter, 49.91 for the half-mile, 1:14.18 for six furlongs, and 1:39.24 for the mile. Last Gunfighter took after the leader in the stretch and showed determination to overtake him with authority and go on to a 4 1/4-length win. He covered the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:58.50 under Javier Castellano.

“I think today he adapted to a real soft pace against a good horse that was on the lead, and he really [bore] down and showed a lot of heart to go get him,” Brown said. “So, it was his best race to date, for sure.”

Brown said Last Gunfighter will now return to New York and be pointed for the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race to be run at Belmont Park on July 6.

Last Gunfighter, who races for his breeder, John Gunther, began his streak in New York, winning a maiden special weight at Belmont in October in his first start for Brown and his fifth career start. He proceeded to win his next four races at Aqueduct, topped by the Grade 3 Excelsior on March 23.

Eighttofasttocatch held second in the Pimlico Special, while it was another 9 1/4 lengths back in third to Richard’s Kid, who removed blinkers Friday. Richard’s Kid ran on strongly through the stretch in an effort that pleased his trainer, Doug O’Neill.

“There was no pace, but he still plugged away, and to run third in Pimlico Special - a huge honor,” said O’Neill. “We’re so proud of this guy. Now, as long as he comes out of this good, we’re excited to run him at Del Mar. He won the Cougar last year for his previous connections, so we’re going to try to repeat. We’re going to defend the Cougar.”

The Grade 3, $100,000 Cougar II will be run at 1 1/2 miles at Del Mar on July 26.

The remaining order of finish in the Pimlico Special was Indian Dance in fourth, followed by Concealed Identity and Brimstone Island. Avenida Paseo was scratched.

First post for Saturday’s card is 10:45 a.m. Eastern.