'When He Turned For Home, He Just Exploded': Last Samurai Tallies Second Straight Oaklawn Win In Essex - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘When He Turned For Home, He Just Exploded’: Last Samurai Tallies Second Straight Oaklawn Win In Essex

Last Samurai, with Cristian Torres at the reins, wins the Essex

Willis Horton Racing's Last Samurai overhauled pacesetter Classic Causeway in the stretch and won the $500,000 Essex (G3) by one length Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Sent off the even-money favorite following his Razorback (G3) win a month ago at the Hot Springs, Arkansas track, and breaking from the far outside post, Last Samurai settled off the early pace in fourth and advanced to third as six furlongs went in 1:12.65. Angled four wide into the stretch, he took aim on Classic Causeway, who gave way grudgingly inside the final furlong, and got clear late for the victory.

Last Samurai was winning for the second time from three starts this year for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Ridden by Cristian Torres, Last Samurai returned $4 after running the 1 1/16-mile Essex in 1:43.17 on a fast track.

Grade 1 winner Classic Causeway hung on for second in the nine-horse field, 2¾ lengths in front of third-place finisher Forza Di Oro.

Last Samurai, a 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon out of Lady Samuri, by First Samurai, has a 6-4-4 record from 24 lifetime starts. His career bankroll improved to $1,908,264 with the $300,625 winner's share of the Essex purse.

The Essex is a major prep for the $1-million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 22, a 1 1/8-mile race Last Samurai won in 2022.

Last Samurai was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

Essex Handicap Quotes:

Winning jockey Cristian Torres, Last Samurai: “He's a horse that it takes a long time to start going, but I was in the perfect spot today. I was where I wanted to be. Right when I hit the half-mile pole, I started asking him because I know he takes a while. When he turned for home, he just exploded. He finished up really well.”

Winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Last Samurai: “I actually felt that the race was smoother and more professional today than the last one (Razorback). He got a beautiful ride from Cristian (Torres). I was worried about the 10 hole, frankly, when we drew that. Getting into that first turn from the 10 hole, the race is usually won or lost right there. When he dropped in nicely like that and showed a little speed, I thought that we had a great chance. It was a very smooth run. I don't think it took that much out of him for his next run.”

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More