A two-time graded stakes winner at Santa Anita this past winter, slow starting Kobe's Back, along with sharp recent allowance winner Lord Nelson, and multiple stakes winner Subtle Indian, head a powerful field of eight sprinters in Saturday's Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs.
First run as the Lakes and Flowers Handicap at Hollywood Park in 1952, the Triple Bend, named for owner Frank McMahon's 1972 Santa Anita Handicap winner, will be contested for the 65th time on Saturday and be run for third consecutive year at Santa Anita.
KOBE'S BACK: Notoriously tardy from the gate, he added blinkers three starts back and responded with a couple of impressive Grade II wins. On Feb. 7, he took the six furlong Palos Verdes and on March 12, he annexed the seven furlong San Carlos Stakes. In his most recent start on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7, he was away in customarily slow fashion and rallied well to be third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths, in the Grade II, seven furlong Churchill Downs. With a 10-3-2-2 record at seven furlongs and a 6-3-2-0 mark at Santa Anita, conditions would appear to be to order for the 5-year-old son of Flatter who has Santa Anita's Grade I Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 5 at the top of his 2016 agenda. Owned by Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stable and trained by Peter Eurton, he'll be accompanied for the 11th consecutive time by Gary Stevens on Saturday. With an overall record of 19-5-3-3, Kobe's Back is the leading money earner in the field with earnings of $1,000,250.
LORD NELSON: In his first start for B.Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm, Lord Nelson overcame a six month absence to run perhaps the best race of his career in winning a third condition allowance here on June 3 going six furlongs. Third to last year's Eclipse Award winning sprinter, Run Happy, two starts back in the Grade I, seven furlong Malibu Stakes Dec. 26, Bob Baffert's Lord Nelson was a winner at three of the Grade II, seven furlong San Vicente Stakes here on Feb. 1, 2015 and has been no worse than third in three tries at the Triple Bend distance. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Pulpit, Lord Nelson earned a career-best 99 Beyer Speed figure in his most recent win and could be the horse to beat on Saturday.
SUBTLE INDIAN: Although he's the speed of the race, multiple stakes winning Subtle Indian, who shipped west from Oaklawn Park to run a solid second in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Kona Gold Stakes here May 21, would appear to be a question mark at seven furlongs, but with “Big Money” Mike Smith taking over for the first time, he merits added respect. Second, beaten a length with regular rider Ramon Vasquez up, he set torrid splits of 21.40, 44.20 and 1:08.60 in the Kona Gold and went under by a length at the hands of multiple stakes winner Wild Dude. Trained by Robertino Diodoro, it'll be up to Smith to ration his considerable early zip. Owned by Mercedes Stables, LLC, 4-year-old gelding Subtle Indian, who has never run as far as seven furlongs, has seven wins from 10 starts and has earnings of $540,300.
THE GRADE I TRIPLE BEND STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
1. Clever Royal—Martin Pedroza—120
2. Kobe's Back—Gary Stevens—122
3. Cautious Giant—Fernando Perez—120
4. Lord Nelson—Rafael Bejarano—120
5. Ambitious Brew—Kent Desormeaux—120
6. Subtle Indian—Mike Smith—120
7. Home Run Kitten—Joe Talamo—120
8. Coastline—Tyler Baze—120
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