01/18/2012 2:58PM

Oaklawn: Azeri logical target for Shotgun Gulch's 2012 debut

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Coady Photography/Keeneland
Shotgun Gulch, winner of the Grade 1 Vinery Madison at Keeneland, is training at Oaklawn Park and could be ready for her first race of 2012 by March.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– The Grade 1-winning mare Shotgun Gulch is on schedule to launch her final season of racing in March. She is based at Oaklawn Park and is a few weeks away from her first workout of the year, her trainer, C.R. Trout, said Wednesday. He said Shotgun Gulch could make her return in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri here March 17.

Shotgun Gulch was fifth in the race a year ago, which served as her springboard to a win in the Grade 1 Vinery Madison at Keeneland in April. Trout said he would again like to make the Madison with Shotgun Gulch. He said the other major goal for her this year is a return trip to the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters. She was a troubled third in the race last September, beaten three-quarters of a length by eventual champion female sprinter Musical Romance.

Such efforts landed Shotgun Gulch in the field for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November, but she ended up being scratched behind the gate. Trout said she had tied up in what was an isolated incident for her. He brought her home to his farm in Oklahoma after the Breeders’ Cup, and she was given time off until resuming training at Oaklawn at the end of December.

“She’s just doing great,” Trout said. “This will be her last year to run, and we’re just going to let her enjoy it. We’re going to lightly race her.”

Trout bred and owns Shotgun Gulch, a 5-year-old mare by Thunder Gulch who has won 7 of 21 starts and $528,976.