Last Samurai Overcomes Slow Start To Take G3 Razorback Handicap

February 18, 2023

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.

Stakes Quotes:

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.”

Great article and you are absolutely right. However your piece is sensible and logical- something that doesn't register with the opposition (who rely on emotion and "siege tactics")

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