Last Samurai and Caddo River Head to the Razorback Hcp. for D. Wayne Lukas

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt,

(501) 363-4305

Friday, February 10, 2023

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Last Samurai and Caddo River Head to the Razorback Hcp. for D. Wayne Lukas

Millionaire multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Last Samurai returned to the work tab Friday morning at Oaklawn, covering a half-mile in :51 over a fast track for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Lukas said before training hours Friday morning that he planned to run Last Samurai in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. In his last start, Last Samurai finished fourth, beaten seven lengths, in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.

Lukas will be taking an old-school approach in search of his 50th career Oaklawn stakes victory, wheeling back Last Samurai in 21 days.

“Well, it’s not really right back,” Lukas, 87, jokingly said. “It’s three weeks. You’re not dealing with 20-year-olds. If I were sitting here with Woody Stephens and Charlie Whittingham, they would look at you and say, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ It’s 21 days.”

Lukas said he was pleased with Last Samurai’s performance in the Pegasus World Cup, noting that he might have finished third if he hadn’t spread a shoe during the race.

“But it was worthwhile,” Lukas said. “The purse was large enough that he picked up a nice check, a real nice check.”

Last Samurai earned $140,000 for his Pegasus finish, bumping his career total to $1,241,039. Last Samurai has done his best work at Oaklawn, where he has a 2-2-0 record from seven starts and earnings of $814,700. Last Samurai won the $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles in December 2021 and the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles last April. Last Samurai ran seventh in last year’s Razorback.

Both Oaklawn stakes victories were when Last Samurai was trained by Dallas Stewart and owned by the now-deceased Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark. Horton’s family continues to campaign Last Samurai. Lukas began training Last Samurai following the Oaklawn Handicap.

Lukas said that also still plans to run 2021 Arkansas Derby runner-up Caddo River in the Razorback for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable. Previously with trainer Brad Cox, Caddo River moved to Lukas’ barn following a runner-up finish in a Jan. 21 allowance race at Oaklawn.

“I’m feeling my way, trying to find the way to go with him and how to train him,” Lukas said. “He’s really a lovely horse.”

The Razorback closed Feb. 3 with 31 nominations. Post positions are to be drawn Sunday. Lukas won the Razorback in 1985 with Imp Society.

The Razorback is a major local prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 22.

Super Saturday

Super Stock, winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in 2021 at Oaklawn, is scheduled to make his 5-year-old debut in Saturday’s seventh race, a $107,000 allowance for older horses at 1 mile.

Keith Asmussen is scheduled to ride Super Stock for his father, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who entered Friday with 9,992 career North American victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Asmussen, already North America’s all-time winningest trainer, entered Friday with 9,994 career worldwide victories. Super Stock is co-owned by Steve Asmussen’s father, Keith. Steve Asmussen has collected a record 12 Oaklawn training titles.

The 5-2 program favorite for Saturday’s seventh race is Thomas Shelby, runner-up in the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes and $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) last season at Oaklawn for trainer Robertino Diodoro and owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk). M and M, Oaklawn’s four-time leading owner, ceased operations last summer. Thomas Shelby was the “last horse running” M and M sold, Diodoro said.

Thomas Shelby is one of three horses entered Saturday at Oaklawn trained by New York-based David Jacobson. All three horses are to be ridden by Ramon Vazquez, who moved his tack from Oaklawn to Southern California last April. Vazquez has 393 career Oaklawn victories.

Sadler Returns to Oaklawn

Southern California-based trainer John Sadler will look to build on his Oaklawn success when he sends out his first local starter in more than 19 months, Stone Silent, in Saturday’s $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 furlongs.

Stone Silent has only started once, breaking her maiden in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes at 5 furlongs June 18 at Santa Anita. Sadler said Wednesday morning that he chose the Dixie Belle over the $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes Saturday at Santa Anita. The Sweet Life is for 3-year-old fillies at about 6 ½ furlongs on the downhill turf course.

“Good time, good rating and everything,” Sadler said, referring to the Debutante. “She came out of the race with a little bit of a knee issue, so we addressed that and gave her a little more than 90 days off and then we started getting her ready for the winter here. She’s trained really nicely. The stake over here this week is 6 ½ (furlongs) on the turf. I wanted to keep her on the dirt and I like 6 (furlongs) as the jumping off point of her 3-year-old campaign. So, it just made sense. This race looked like a good spot for her and I’m a big fan of Oaklawn, so we just sent her over there. Got there Sunday afternoon and do a little training this week and run Saturday.”

Sadler has 29 career victories at Oaklawn, the first coming in 2010 with Line of David in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). His second victory was in 2017 with champion Stellar Wind in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1).

The bulk of Sadler’s Oaklawn victories came in 2020 and 2021, when he had divisions both years in Hot Springs. He won 15 races in 2020 to finish fifth in the trainer standings and 11 the following year to finish 10th. Sadler’s last Oaklawn starter came on closing day of the 2021 meeting.

Sadler bids for his fifth career Oaklawn stakes victory with Stone Silent, who is by Grade 2 winner Adios Charlie out of multiple stakes winner Travelator. Stone Silent races for Talla Racing LLC and West Point Thoroughbreds after being purchased for $410,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales March Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Stone Silent’s quarter-mile time (:20 2/5) was the swiftest preview work at the sale.

“She’s a very fast filly,” Sadler said.

Stone Silent has 10 published workouts at Santa Anita since Dec. 3 in advance of the Dixie Belle. Stone Silent (3-1 on the morning line) is scheduled to break from post 4 under Ramon Vazquez, who rode 393 winners at Oaklawn before relocating to Southern California last April.

“This is a good starting point,” Sadler said. “Let’s start here and see how it goes and then we’ll look at what we’re going to do. But this is a good place for her.”

In addition to Line of David and Stellar Wind, Sadler won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes in 2017 with Cistron and its $250,000 Carousel Stakes in 2021 with Edgeway. Sadler also finished second in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2018 with Accelerate, who was named the country’s champion older dirt male that year.

Stone Silent, Sadler said, may not be the last horse he starts at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting.

“We’re looking at a few different stakes over there,” said Sadler, who trained 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline. “I like to race back there. I haven’t decided on anything definite, but you’re going to see more of us.”

Finish Lines

Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Will’s Secret has been retired, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning. Campaigned throughout most of her career by the late Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark., Will’s Secret won 4 of 18 lifetime starts and earned $699,705. Will’s Secret, then trained by Dallas Stewart, won Oaklawn’s $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes and $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies in 2021. In her final career start, Will’s Secret finished sixth in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Jan. 7 at Oaklawn. Lukas said he believes Will’s Secret, a 5-year-old daughter of champion Will Take Charge, will be bred to 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. … Love of My Life ($9.80) represented the first career Oaklawn victories for Kentucky-based jockey Vincent Cheminaud and Kentucky-based trainer Ignacio Correas IV in last Sunday’s fourth race. Cheminaud and Correas are scheduled team again in Saturday’s seventh race at Oaklawn with King Kumbalay. … “Oaklawn Raceday,” featuring David Longinotti, director of Oaklawn Anywhere, and Equibase representative Jeff Taylor, can be heard Saturdays 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Central) during the 2022-2023 meeting on Little Rock, Ark., radio station KABZ-FM 103.7 and Owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs is this week’s special guest.