After a lot of hard-luck races where he could only do second at best, Moreno went wire-to-wire in the G1 Whitney Handicap (I) at 10-1 odds to earn an expenses-paid guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I).
(First Samurai x Saratoga Cat, by Sir Cat)
- Trainer: Chad Brown
- Jockey: Javier Castellano
- Owned by: John Gunther
- Career Record: 13:7-3-2
- Earnings: $665,405
- 2013 Record: 6:4-1-0
- 2013 accomplishments: G2-placed, multiple G3 wins
- Santa Anita record: 0:0-0-0
- TrueNicks rating: A+ Variant 5.33
- Dosage Index: 1.29
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 120 (no change from last year)
- Lost last prep - 5th, Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) by 10 1/4 lengths
Summary: A staple in New York winner’s circles this year and one of the most consistent horses in this race, Last Gunfighter ships to the west coast for the first time after a strong 2013 season which featured a 6-race win streak that started in October 2012 and lasted through to a win in the historic Pimlico Special (III).
Prep Schedule: Wasting little time, Last Gunfighter kept his win streak from 2012 going strong in January, winning Aqueduct’s Evening Attire Stakes over 1 1/16 miles, drawing off to win by an easy 1 1/2 lengths over a tidy field. He stepped things up two months later in his graded stakes debut, in the G3 Excelsior at Aqueduct going 9 furlongs, which he won easily despite a bumpy break, coming from off the pace to win by 2 lengths. He took his win streak on the road in May to Pimlico, winning the historic Pimlico Special (III) in a wild two-horse race against Eighttoofasttocatch, catching the Maryland standout in the stretch and drawing off to win by 4 1/2 lengths. In July, he stepped up in the Suburban Handicap (II), but could not catch winner Flat Out and was bested by 2 1/2 lengths while running gamely. He turned things around in August, winning Monmouth’s Philip H. Iselin Stakes (III) by a head over the stubborn San Pablo. Shipping back north for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I), he stepped awkwardly at the start and slipped and from there things only got worse as he suffered a wide and rocky trip from there, ultimately finishing 5th, beaten 10 1/4 lengths.
Physique: Long-bodied with a good reach, Last Gunfighter has a nice hind end for late kicking power coupled with a set of nice back legs. Arguably one of the better hind ends in the field.
Pedigree: By accomplished juvenile and “early bird” sire First Samurai, who won 2 G1s at 2 before winning the Fountain of Youth (II) at 3, Last Gunfighter is among one of the best of his sire’s lot, which features a strong gene pool of classic-type runners. First Samurai is by classic sire Giant’s Causeway, who ran 2nd in this event, out of a stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare. Dam Saratoga Cat is a daughter of G2 turf horse Sir Cat, and goes back not once but twice to the great La Troienne. Up close, Last Gunfighter has two traces to Storm Cat and three to Northern Dancer.
Running Style: Off the pace
Pros: Consistency can be key, and Last Gunfighter has rarely had an off day— and certainly none due to a poor attitude— since he began racing. I’m 98% positive he is better than his collection of G3 wins have to suggest from a consistency and numbers angle.
Cons: He hasn’t beaten much yet, and has yet to show he can hold his own against super serious G1 horses. Can he ship, too? Can Chad Brown train a Breeders’ Cup dirt horse?
Final Word: If Last Gunfighter can carry his east coast form with him and gain a good trip, he’s got an excellent shot to hit the top 4 at tremendous value. Javier Castellano is an excellent rider and has a great rapport with Chad Brown already, and this is one of the most consistent horses in the field. Use him!