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OLDSMAR, FL – Trainer Mike Maker’s Last Judgment led every step of the way to wire Saturday’s $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking alertly from post 2 under Daniel Centeno as the 7/5 co-favorite, Last Judgment settled into a comfortable lead heading into the clubhouse turn before posting opening fractions of :23.29, :47.41, and 1:11.37.
Inching clear of his pursuers midway through the far turn. Last Judgment drew off in the stretch before crossing 2 1/4 lengths the best, completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:41.98.
“Mike’s instructions were to take the lead and he broke really sharp and made an easy lead all the way to the wire,” Centeno said. “It looks like he can run all day. It’s nice when you get a lead like that and the horse is enjoying being out there all by himself.”
Modernist found his best footing late and flew up for second by 1 3/4 lengths over War Stopper, the other co-7/5 favorite.
Letmeno and Jungle Fighter completed the order of finish.
Last Judgment’s win was the second of his career following the Sunshine Classic 2 starts back at Gulfstream Park and improved his overall record to 16-7-0-1. The Florida-bred 5-year-old Congrats gelding has now earned $333,365 for co-owners Michael Dubb, Steve Hornstock, Bethlehem Stables, and Nice Guys Stables.
“It looked like he should be forwardly placed and that’s how the race was run,” Stidham said. “He seemed to be well within himself the whole way. He got into a nice rhythm and kept it going. … I’ll try to spot him more appropriately the rest of the year.”
Last Judgment returned $4.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.10 to show. Modernist brought back $4 to place and $2.20 to show. War Stopper paid $2.10 to show.
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