Oaklawn News

L and N Racing LLC traveled the road to the Kentucky Derby for the first time last year with Lookin At Lee. The Tulsa-based ownership group has another intriguing prospect this year in unbeaten Retirement Fund, who is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the $500,000 Southwest (G3) Monday at Oaklawn.

A son of Eskendereya, Retirement Fund has won his two career starts – both in front-running fashion at Fair Grounds – by a combined 9 ¼ lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has led the Oaklawn standings eight times since 2007.

Retirement Fund broke his maiden by 7 ¼ lengths Dec. 22 before clearing his first allowance condition Jan. 20. Both races were 1 mile and 70 yards.

The Asmussen-trained Lookin At Lee made his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest and finished third before running second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness. But, Lookin At Lee was also accomplished at two, winning the $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes and finishing fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

“I think the horses are just different,” L and N racing manager Michael Levinson said Friday afternoon. “I think it’s different just in the fact that Lookin At Lee raced early as a 2-year-old. We kind of knew what to expect last year with him. But this year, obviously, there’s still a lot of question marks with Retirement Fund. He won his first two races wire-to-wire, but now he’s going to get thrown in there with a lot better horses, a lot better competition. We’re just interested in seeing how he runs. I guess we’ll have a better idea Monday at 5:15 than we do right now.”

Regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan is named on Retirement Fund, who is scheduled to break from post 7 and carry 115 pounds.

Asmussen is bidding for his third Southwest victory after capturing the race in 2002 with Private Emblem and 2014 with Tapiture. He has also entered Smarty Jones runner-up Combatant, Zing Zang and Principe Guilherme, who is excepted to scratch after starting in Saturdays’ Risen Star Stakes (G2).

L and N Racing LLC is headed by Levinson’s father, Lee.
I Want to be a Kowboy
Shotgun Kowboy, 2.3.18, Race 3, Oaklawn
Shotgun Kowboy ran in the race after the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap last year at Oaklawn. But Monday afternoon, Oklahoma-based owner/trainer C.R. Trout will watch his prized homebred compete in the $500,000 race for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

It’s all about horsepower, Trout said Saturday morning. “It’s a lot easier this year with Gun Runner not being here,” Trout said. “A lot easier to make up your mind to do something.”

Gun Runner was already a Grade 1 winner when he made his 4-year-old debut in the 2017 Razorback, which he dominated by 5 ¾ front-running lengths in a swift 1:40.97. Gun Runner was crowned 2017 Horse of the Year last month after winning four consecutive Grade 1 events, including the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

While Gun Runner toyed with his rivals in the Razorback, Shotgun Kowboy wasn’t bad about 30 minutes later, powering to a 3 ¾-length allowance/optional claiming victory in 1:42.51 for 1 1/16 miles.

Trout said Shotgun Kowboy was headed to another allowance race on the Razorback card this year before the gelding was rerouted Friday morning after Southern California-based Hoppertunity and City of Light – both Grade 1 winners – weren’t entered.

“He feels good, he likes this track and we’re here,” Trout said. “All we’ve got to do is lead him over. I’ve hauled him a lot farther to run. The one thing I know is he’ll make them run. They’ll have to come and get him.”

The move allowed Trout to run multiple stakes winner Hallelujah Hit in Monday’s fifth race, a conditioned allowance for older horses at a mile.

Shotgun Kowboy exits a powerful front-running allowance victory Feb. 3, scoring by five lengths under Luis Quinonez to surpass $1 million in career earnings.

“He’s feeling great,” Trout said. “We just feel like he deserves a chance.”

Shotgun Kowboy is scheduled to break from post 7 under Quinonez and carry 115 pounds. A 6-year-old Oklahoma-bred son of sprint champion Kodiak Kowboy, he has a 10-5-3 record from 25 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,043,159.
Three Times a Horse

Futile has made three starts for 2015 Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman since being claimed for $32,000 Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs.

All three starts have resulted in runner-up finishes, the second a three-quarter length setback in the $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 12, Oaklawn’s first of four major two-turn races for older horses.

Futile will try for his breakthrough victory – again – in Monday’s $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

“I don’t know about frustrating, but we’re tickled with the way this horse has run,” Hartman said Saturday morning. “You don’t expect that out of a horse you’ve claimed for $32,000. Everything’s gravy right now. Hoping that something good happens in the Razorback.”

Sandwiched around the Fifth Season were runner-up finishes in the $150,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) Nov. 25 at Hawthorne and a Jan. 27 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn.

“We’re excited to jump in there,” said Hartman, who trains Futile for major clients Jackie Rojas and Chris Wilkins.

Futile switches to Luis Contreras and is scheduled to break from post 10 under 115 pounds.