Historic 1 3/16-Mile Event Precedes Black-Eyed Susan (G2)
BALTIMORE, MD – Michael Dubb, Steve Hornstock, Bethlehem Stables and Nice Guys Stables’ Last Judgment, who became a graded-stakes winner two starts back, led all the way around to add another graded triumph to his resume in Friday’s historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
The 51st running of the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up was the fifth of six stakes, four graded, worth $1 million in purses on a sensational 14-race Black-Eyed Susan Day program headlined by the 97th edition of the 1 1/8-mile fixture for 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Mike Maker, Last Judgment ($11.80) completed the distance in 1:54.37 over a fast main track to win by 1 ¾ lengths over multiple graded-stakes winner Modernist, who edged even-money favorite Fearless by a neck for second. It was 4 ¼ lengths back to Cordmaker – third in the 2019 and 2020 Pimlico Special – in fourth.
Last Judgment, a gelded 5-year-old son of Congrats, wasted no time getting to the lead from his far outside post in the field of 10, settling under Ortiz through fractions of 23.83 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, and 47.60 for the half, as Cordmaker and Maker-trained stablemate Treasure Trove duked it out in second.
The half-mile went in 47.60 seconds with Last Judgment comfortably in front, but Modernist came through an opening along the rail and Fearless swept past horses on the far outside around the far turn to launch their bids. Last Judgment remained in control and had plenty left to turn back his challengers to win for the eighth time in 18 starts. His other stakes wins, in the March 6 Challenger (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs and Jan. 16 Sunshine Classic at Gulfstream Park, also came in front-running fashion.
All three of Last Judgment’s stakes wins have come since being claimed by Maker for $62,500 out of a head victory sprinting 6 ½ furlongs last fall at Belmont Park. He has never raced shorter than 1 1/16 miles since the change of barns, also running second in the Ghostzapper (G3) March 27 and sixth in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) Jan. 23, both 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream.
Ortiz previously won the Pimlico Special with Irish War Cry in 2018. It was the first Pimlico Special victory for Maker.
The Pimlico Special was created in 1937 by Alfred Vanderbilt, the master of Sagamore Farm, as the first major stakes in the United States set up as an invitational, and was won by Triple Crown champion War Admiral. The following year, War Admiral was upset by Seabiscuit in what Sports Illustrated called the ‘Race of the Century.’
Revived in 1988 by late Maryland Jockey Club president Frank De Francis, the Special’s illustrious roster of winners also includes Triple Crown winners Whirlaway, Citation and Assault, and modern-day Horses of the Year Criminal Type, Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft and Invasor.
$250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) Quotes
Winning Trainer Mike Maker (Last Judgment): “Very classy horse. We like the way he’s responded on that stretch out. Fabulous [claim] by these guys (co-owners Steve Hornstock and Steve Spielman).”
“He’s run well for us going a mile and an eighth. I was glad to stretch him out and hoped to get a softer pace going longer.”
“I was a little concerned about the outside post, but he doesn’t care for the dirt in his face, so he was going to be in the clear anyway. If someone was hell-bent on the lead, so be it.”
“To be honest, I’ve never really thought about anything further than today. But with a nice horse, you always have a lot of options.”
Winning Jockey Jose Ortiz (Last Judgment): “I thought I was going to get [to the lead], but I knew that if somebody else wanted to get there, I could sit off him, too. It was not like the last time, I cooked in front in 46 [seconds] and that cost me the race for sure. I had a good position. I knew that if he broke well from the gate I could get to the lead nicely. Or if he didn’t break well I could sit second. But he broke really good.”
“It was a nice job by Mike [Maker]. He had him ready. The horse relaxed well. When I asked him he was there for me. That’s all you can ask for.”
Jockey Junior Alvarado (Modernist; 2nd): “I had a beautiful trip. The horse that won the race was the only one with the speed, and I was tracking behind him the whole way. Turning for home, I took my shot at it, but that horse in front just kept going. I was in a beautiful spot. If I had to do it 100 times, I would have picked the same spot I was in. I was traveling very beautifully. The horse in front got away with a nice pace and he kept going.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher (Fearless; 3rd): “I thought he ran well. He got shuffled back a bit. He tried to move him outside into the clear, but it’s tough when there’s no pace to try to close much ground. I thought he put in a long sustained run. They just didn’t come back.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Fearless; 3rd): “On the backside, I knew the other horse [Last Judgment] was in control, so I started letting my horse pick it up. He made a long run. It was hard to get there. On the backside, he [Last Judgment] was running comfortable. I knew he was going to be hard to catch, so I started moving. It was a long run.”