The speedy West Will Power headlines a strong field of 10 older horses entered in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
The Razorback goes as the ninth of 10 races, with probable post time 4:42 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. The Razorback is a major local steppingstone to the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles March 18 and the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles April 22.
The projected Razorback field from the rail out:
- Long Range Toddy, Rafael Bejarano to ride, 115 pounds, 20-1 on the morning line;
- Law Professor, Jose Ortiz, 120, 7-2;
- Rated R Superstar, David Cabrera, 118, 15-1;
- Ginobili, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 5-2;
- Trademark, Martin Garcia, 116, 20-1;
- West Will Power, Joel Rosario, 122, 2-1;
- Last Samurai, Cristian Torres, 118, 10-1;
- Hero Status, Mike Smith, 116, 12-1;
- Keystone Field, Isaac Castillo, 115, 8-1; and
- Caddo River, Gabriel Saez, 116, 15-1.
Program favorite West Will Power hails from the powerhouse connections of two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and Gary and Mary West, who bred and own the 6-year-old son Bernardini.
West Will Power, who will be making his 2023 debut in the Razorback, has a 2-2-0 record in four starts for Cox, highlighted by a front-running 6 ¾-length victory in the $350,000 Fayette Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles Oct. 29 at Keeneland. He also led at every point of call in an allowance victory at 1 1/8 miles Sept. 28 at Churchill Downs.
“Looks like a good spot to get him going,” Cox said. “Hopefully, he gets a good trip and he should be tough. He’s doing really, really well. The last few works have been phenomenal at the Fair Grounds. Looking forward to getting him started this year.”
West Will Power exits a runner-up finish in the $750,000 Clark Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs. West Will Power was beaten three-quarters of a length by Proxy after leading throughout most of the race. West Will Power has five published workouts this year at Fair Grounds in advance of the Razorback, which Cox won last year with Plainsman.
“We gave him just a little bit of a freshening after the Clark,” Cox said. “Thought that this race, with the purse and everything, made good sense.”
Southern California-based Ginobili returns to Oaklawn after a sparkling four-length victory in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at 1 mile Jan. 14. The Fifth Season was the first major local two-turn prep this year for the Oaklawn Handicap.
Ginobili has recorded three workouts at San Luis Rey Training Center since the Fifth Season for trainer Peter Miller. In his final breeze for the Razorback, Ginobili covered 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 Feb. 11. Miller said Ginobili is “fit” and “ready” after he galloped out seven furlongs in “1:25” and a mile in “1:38 and change” in last week’s work.
“He’s training super, really training well,” Miller said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s a tougher race. He’s got a lot of speed, but he doesn’t need the lead. So, we can kind of let Ricardo play it the way it comes up. If someone goes crazy, we’ll sit. If we get an easy lead, we’ll take it. He’s just a really, really good horse. Training really, really well, like he did for the last one.”
Ginobili is one of six graded stakes winners entered in the Razorback. Three of the projected starters are also millionaires.
“It’s a tough race,” Miller said. “Brad’s horse is tough. The horse coming from New York is a very nice horse, Law Professor. We’re going to have to step up and run our best to win.”
Law Professor returns to Hot Springs after finishing ninth in last April’s $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for Southern California-based trainer Michael McCarthy. Now with New York-based trainer Rob Atras, Law Professor exits a 7 ½-length victory in the $150,000 Queens County Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 7 at Aqueduct.
Law Professor’s resume also includes victories in the $200,000 off-the-turf Santa Anita Mathis Mile (G2) in December 2021 at Santa Anita and the $400,000 Tapit Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards Sept. 1 over Kentucky Downs’ undulating, nonsymmetrical 1 5/16-mile European-style grass course. Law Professor, on a sloppy track, also ran second to the accomplished Life Is Good in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Oct. 1 at the Belmont At The Big A.
“He’s got a little bit of gate speed, so I would like use it and get position,” Atras said. “From what I remember, that first turn comes up pretty quick. I think a sharp break and Jose getting him in position early is probably going to be key for him.”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas bids for his 50th career Oaklawn stakes victory with millionaire Last Samurai and recent addition Caddo River.
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. 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, when with trainer Dallas Stewart, won the $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles in December 2021 and last year’s Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Last Samurai also ran seventh in the 2022 Razorback.
Caddo River, the 2021 Arkansas Derby runner-up for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, was transferred from Cox to Lukas following a runner-up finish in a Jan. 21 allowance race at Oaklawn. Anthony also campaigned Plainsman.
Late-running Rated R Superstar will be making his sixth appearance in the Razorback. The millionaire multiple graded stakes winner finished fifth in the last two runnings after four-time Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell claimed the now-10-year-old gelding for $50,000 Jan. 30, 2021, at Oaklawn.
Rated R Superstar exits a third in the Fifth Season, beaten 4 ¼ lengths, after being last of 10 in the opening half-mile.
“It is tougher than the other race,” Caldwell said. “I do, when I handicap the race, see a lot of speed. Of course, we get that extra sixteenth and a longer stretch, which makes a huge difference for us.”
Millionaire Grade 2 winner Long Range Toddy, trained by Stewart, moves back to a route in an attempt to snap a 27-race losing streak. Trademark exits a victory in the $300,000 off-the-turf Commonwealth Turf Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs for trainer Victoria Oliver.
Keystone Field was a sharp allowance winner at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 7 at Oaklawn for trainer Mike Maker. Hero Status, unraced outside Southern California, will be making his stakes debut for trainer Mark Glatt.