Trainer Patrick McBurney got a lot more than he bargained for Saturday in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
McBurney was just hoping for the best in Just Call Kenny's stakes debut in the 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, not expecting that would be exactly what his lightly raced colt and jockey Joe Bravo would give him.
“Our plan was to back off horses and pick up a little check here,” the New Jersey-based trainer said. “Joe said he really took off when he asked him.”
After lagging well behind his five rivals along the backstretch, Just Call Kenny kicked into high gear coming off the turn and surged through the stretch to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths in the race that wasn't originally in McBurney's plans.
“There was an allowance race scheduled for today, and we wanted to get a sprint allowance into him before stretching him out to a mile. When the allowance didn't fill, the racing office said this race is here, and we went in,” McBurney said. “It worked out well.”
Plan B produced the son of Jump Start's second win in three lifetime starts, including a debut victory at Monmouth in August and a troubled second in an allowance at Laurel in October.
“Getting ready, he acted like he could really run, and he's a huge colt on top of it for a 3-year-old,” his trainer said. “He had a huge turn of foot coming off the pace at Monmouth, which was a speed track also, so we had high hopes for him.”
Sent to post as the longest-priced longshot at 19-1, Just Call Kenny was rated in the back of the pace as Corfu, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Javier Castellano, showed the way, stalked by Hollywood Talent, along the backstretch and into the far turn. As Corfu began to fade leaving the turn into the homestretch, Hollywood Talent took the lead at the top of the stretch, but Bravo got Just Call Kenny rolling. The strapping 3-year-old split horses in mid-stretch and drew off to victory.
“This horse has really had a lot of talent all along. We always had high hopes for him, but if you look he's a big playboy. Flashy horse, always had other things on his mind. Today, when he had those other horses run away from him he was like, ‘Hey, where are they going? Let me catch up.' Man, you saw the move he did to catch up,” said Bravo, who also rode Naples Bay for a victory in the $100,000 Marshua's River (G3) Saturday. “That was a pretty eye-opening race than he ran today. His better races are going to be going further in the future. We don't know about the future yet, but hopefully we'll find out.”
Just Call Kenny ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.58. C. Zee, ridden by Edgard Zayas, closed well to finish second, three lengths ahead of Hollywood Talent and jockey Joel Rosario. Trail Blaze, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Jose Lezcano, finished fourth after being a brief factor on the final turn. Corfu faded to last.
Just Call Kenny earned $60,000 for the partnership of ABL Stable, Bossone, Cahill, Donnely and Phantom House Farm.
“No plans yet. We were thinking of going into a one-other-than allowance going a mile next time,” McBurney said. “Now we'll have to come up with a new plan. John Forbes manages the partnership, so we'll have to get together to see what there is for him.”
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