WinStar Farm's Commissioner lived up to his odds-on billing with a comfortable victory in Friday's Grade 3, $300,000 Sagamore Racing Pimlico Special, pulling away from his rivals to earn his second graded victory this year.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Commissioner pressed the early pace set by Encryption through opening fractions of :23.54, :48.16, and 1:12.74. The 4-year-old colt took the lead on the far turn and drew off to a convincing win, running the mile and three-sixteenths in 1:56.09.
“He was very strong today. He minded so well,” Castellano said. “I was able to tuck in around the first turn and he was just galloping along. He can go 24 (seconds) and 48, that's him. I didn't ask him until we turned for home. The more distance the better for him.”
Consistent runner Page McKenney came in for second. Cat Burglar and Top Billing filled out the superfecta.
Second to Tonalist in the G1 Belmont Stakes last year, Commissioner went winless in two starts in 2015 before a narrow victory over Sir Quisqueyano in the G3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 28. The Todd Pletcher trainee has four wins in 12 starts.
“This was awesome. I'm very happy,” Pletcher said. “I loved the position he was able to get into. Once he gets into that rhythm, you can keep on cruising. Right after the Skip Away, we talked about it and decided to go to the Pimlico Special. We'll see how he comes out of it. It's 22 days to the Brooklyn Handicap, so that's possible.”
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar, Commissioner is by now-pensioned leading sire A.P. Indy out of Flaming Heart (Touch Gold).
Page McKenney ran well despite sustaining a cut to his ankle, trainer Mary Eppler said after the race.
“He has a pretty bad cut on his ankle and it's bleeding pretty badly. We have the vet coming over to the barn now. He's hit the board in all of his stakes races. I'm very pleased with the way he ran today.”
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