By Dick Downey
The LARC Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds, the last last race on the Pimlico card before the Preakness Stakes, was won by Ax Man and familiar connections.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, trainer and jockey of Kentucky Derby winner Justify, Ax Man broke from the gate sharply and let throughout before drawing off to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Title Ready, who chased him in second, easily stayed in that position to clear Prince Lucky by 4 1/2 lengths.
Pony Up, Dream Baby Dream and Navy Commander rounded out the six-horse field. Forest Fire was scratched and four others had been cross-entered and opted out of the Sir Barton.
Ax Man was timed in 1:42.53 on a track rated sloppy-sealed and enshrouded by fog. The backstretch couldn't be seen from the front, but cameras strategically placed around the track captured the unfolding of the race as Ax Man set initial fractions of 23.56, 46.96 and 1:11.30.
It was the second straight win by open lengths for Patti and Hal Earnhardt's Ax Man and his third win from four starts overall. Last time out, he took an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita by 8 1/2 lengths. The $100,000 Sir Barton was his first stakes race and his first start away from Santa Anita.
Ax Man is a son of Misremembered out of Shameful, by Flying Chevron. He was bred in Kentucky by the Earnhardts.