Last Samurai draws away to win the Razorback in a mild upset (Coady Photography)
Oaklawn Park Press Release
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Willis Horton Racing LLC’s 2022 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) winner Last Samurai proved he’s a horse for the course when he came from off the pace to win his third overall Oaklawn stakes in Saturday’s $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) before a crowd of 35,000.
With leading rider Cristian Torres in the saddle, Last Samurai got off to a slow start and was forced to settle near the back of the field as Long Range Toddy took the early lead through an opening quarter mile in :23 3/5. West Will Power, the 8-5 favorite, was eager to run and split horses to take control before a half mile in :47 2/5. He battled head and head with Law Professor around the turn and into the stretch before being collared in the final furlong by the winner, who drew off to win by 1 ½ lengths over the favorite. Law Professor held on for third. The winning time was 1:42 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
“He got an excellent ride from Cristian (Torres),” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “We wanted to make sure he had a place to run. That’s all we asked him. We said he might not get away very well and he didn’t. We just said, ‘Give us a place to run. He’ll keep coming. Don’t quit on him.’ That’s exactly the way the race unfolded.”
Rated R Superstar, the 10-year-old veteran stakes winner, was fourth and was followed by Hero Status, Long Range Toddy, Keystone Field and Fifth Season Stakes winner Ginobili, who had a rough trip.
Last Samurai, a 5-year-old Malibu Moon horse, improved his record to 5-4-4 in 23 starts and has now earned $1,607,639. He returned $18.80, $6.40 and $3.60 at odds of 8-1.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. first post. There will also be a special Presidents’ Day Monday card starting at 12:30 p.m. and featuring the annual Oaklawn cap giveaway.
Winning jockey Cristian Torres, Last Samurai: “Honestly at the start, when he broke a little slow, I was worried just a little bit. But when I saw there was a lot of pace in front of me, I didn’t panic. He got the position the way I wanted and I was just waiting until the hole opened. As soon as it opened up and I asked him, he was there for me. Everybody saw the way he finished.”
Winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Last Samurai: “He got an excellent ride from Cristian (Torres). We wanted to make sure he had a place to run. That’s all we asked him. We said he might not get away very well and he didn’t. We just said, ‘Give us a place to run. He’ll keep coming. Don’t quit on him.’ That’s exactly the way the race unfolded.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, second on West Will Power: “He did everything he could. Broke a little bit slow. Going into the first turn, he looked like he was in a good spot. The horse that ran us down (Last Samurai), he ran a good race.”
Trainer Rob Atras, third with Law Professor: “I thought Jose (Ortiz) gave him a good ride. On the (second) turn, I thought we were in a good position to win. That’s all you can ask the rider to do and the horse to do.”