Shotgun Kowboy hasn't been a stranger to the winner's circle by any means in his five-season racing career, but it had been a while since he tasted graded glory.
It's not like he was far off, either. In 10 graded starts since his breakthrough score in the 2015 Oklahoma Derby (G3), the son of Kodiak Kowboy placed in five.
The 6-year-old seemed to be up against it again May 27 at Lone Star Park, but he fired his best against a top-level competitor and earned his second grade 3 score in the $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (G3).
Facing Bob Baffert-trained grade 1 winner Mubtaahij, who placed in the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1) and Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in his last two starts, Shotgun Kowboy and jockey Luis Quinonez got to the front, crossed over to the rail, and kept on to the wire to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:44.84 for 1 1/16 miles.
Early on, Mubtaahij and jockey Mike Smith were inside of Shotgun Kowboy, but the frontrunner got clear heading into the first turn and crossed over the 2-5 favorite, who then dropped into a stalking third-place position after longshot South Beach rushed up to challenge the leader. Shotgun Kowboy set fractions of :24.29, :47.63, and 1:11.66 through six furlongs and kicked away in the stretch.
"That was the plan—break good and see what they're doing. Just maintain and get him comfortable," Quinonez said. "He was going pretty good—not slow at all. ... I wanted to be in control of the race."
Mubtaahij angled out off the rail turning for home but never got within a length of the winner and finished second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Fear the Cowboy.
Owned, bred, and trained by C. R. Trout, Shotgun Kowboy earned his 12th victory and sixth stakes win Sunday.
"He's easy to train, and we let him do his deal today—let him be where he wanted to be. ... We had a good field today, and I'm proud to win one of those, " Trout said.
Shotgun Kowboy, who was bred in Oklahoma out of the Siphon mare Shotgun Jane, has $1,246,326 in earnings. He began his year with a seventh-place finish in the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park and won a pair of Oaklawn allowance races sandwiched around a ninth-place run in the Razorback Handicap (G3). In his start prior to the Lone Star Handicap, he finished third, just a neck behind second-place Girvin—a grade 1 winner—in the May 6 Steve Sexton Mile Stakes (G3).