Idle since running seventh in the Breeders' Cup Sprint Oct. 31 and fitted with blinkers by trainer Peter Eurton, Kobe's Back rallied from far back under Gary Stevens to take Sunday's Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes by a half length while covering six furlongs in 1:08.70.
As is his custom, Kobe's Back, who broke from the rail in a field of five older horses, was away slowly but was in high gear while four-wide turning for home, about nine lengths off the lead.
“Gary said the blinkers did make a difference,” said Eurton, who trained “Kobe” in his last eight starts. “They probably need a little more cup to them. He tends to focus on the handlers in the gate…He tends to forget about the front part of the gate when it opens, so we're going to add just a little more shade to them.”
When asked if he was concerned about being so far back early, Eurton responded, “I know him, so we're used to it. Six furlongs is just a little short…I never felt he was completely out of it, knowing him.”
The second choice in the wagering at 5-2, Kobe's Back collared favored Salutos Amigos in the final 50 yards and paid $7.00, $3.40 and $2.40.
Owned by Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stable, Kobe's Back improved his overall mark to 17-4-3-2. With the winner's share of $120,000, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred horse by Flatter increased his earnings to $772,250.
“We tried blinkers years ago when John (Sadler) had him and he didn't particularly like them,” said Lee Searing. “We didn't think it was going to make a big difference. He did come out of the gate really good today, so that may have made a difference but he's also never been this good, so finally this may be his year. We'll find out but it's a good start.”
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Salutos Amigos was a close fourth at the rail going into the far turn, made the lead a sixteenth out, but couldn't hold off the winner late while finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of Cautious Giant. Off at 7-5, he paid $2.80 and $2.20.
With Santiago Gonzalez up, Cautious Giant was lapped on pacesetter Rocket Heat around the far turn, took command at the quarter pole and proved third best, finishing 3 ¾ lengths in front of Rocket Heat. Off at 6-1, Cautious Giant paid $3.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.88, 44.45 and 56.33.
Watch the race replay here:
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