Kobe’s Back rallies from last to take Palos Verdes

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Jen Caldwell

February 7th, 2016

Kobe’s Back has gained a reputation for running in last and used that tactic to score his first victory since last April in Sunday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

With jockey Gary Stevens aboard, the C R K Stable colorbearer settled into his customary rear-running spot as Rocket Heat set a blistering pace through a half-mile in :21.88 and :44.45. Cautious Giant pressed just off Rocket Heat’s flank and the duo were briefly joined by Pulling G’s entering the turn.

Meanwhile, Kobe’s Back was beginning his rally from last and came four wide around the turn. Salutos Amigos, the 7-5 favorite, also put in his move and ranged up as Rocket Heat and Cautious Giant continued to duke it out. The six-year-old gelding appeared ready to add another stakes win to his resume, but Kobe’s Back was going too good.

The Peter Eurton-trained gray flew down the center of the track and swept on by Salutos Amigos to score by a half-length. The five-year-old stopped the clock in 1:08.70 for six furlongs over Santa Anita’s fast main track and paid $7 as the 5-2 second choice.

Salutos Amigos filled the second spot 1 1/2 lengths up on Cautions Giant. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to fourth-placer Rocket Heat with Pulling G’s fading to last.

Kobe’s Back most recent visit to the winner’s circle came when taking the Commonwealth S. (G3) at Keeneland last April. He placed in three other graded events in 2015, including the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) and Bing Crosby S. (G1), and concluded the season with a seventh-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Kobe’s Back earned his fourth career win in the Palos Verdes, with the other three all coming in stakes as well. In fact, the Kentucky-bred has recorded exactly one win each year he’s raced thus far.

He broke his maiden debut in the 2013 Willard L. Proctor Memorial, captured his sophomore bow in the 2014 San Vicente S. (G3) by 5 1/4 lengths and scored in last year’s Commonwealth in his second outing of 2015.

Now boasting an overall record of 17-4-3-2, Kobe’s Back has banked $772,250 in lifetime earnings. He passed through the sale’s ring twice, bringing $60,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling and $480,000 as an OBS March Selected two-year-old.

By Flatter and out of the winning Well Decorated mare Well, Kobe’s Back is a half-brother to Grade 3 victor Well Spelled.

Kobe’s Back photo courtesy of Benoit Photos


Peter Eurton, trainer Kobe’s Back: “Gary said the blinkers did make a difference. They probably need a little more. He tends to focus on the handlers (at the gate) a little bit and if he can see them, he tends to forget about the front part of the gate when it opens, so we’re probably going to add a little more cup to them.

“We’ll take that same area code (that he broke from). That’s the way he’s going to run. They still ran pretty fast, eight and change. That’s tough to catch. He can hold his own with anybody except maybe a Runhappy.

“I know him, so we’re used to him being so far back early…six furlongs is just a little short. I felt he had a chance still (when he was far back). I never felt he was completely out of it, knowing him. He was invited to Dubai (for the Golden Shaheen [UAE-G1] on March 28), but that’s up to (C R K Stable owners) Lee and Susan (Searing). Right now we’re going to enjoy this because it doesn’t happen very often and we’ll go from there.”

Lee Searing, owner Kobe’s Back: “Well, having owned that horse a long time and knowing exactly what he’s gone through with his breaking, and all the ‘could have been this, could have been that.’ He’s a really good horse but he has that style and he does some stupid things but he didn’t do anything stupid today, he just ran.

“We tried the blinkers years ago when (trainer) John (Sadler) had him and he didn’t particularly like them. 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.

“We’ll talk about what’s next. We always thought he was a really good seven-furlong horse and thought he could go a mile and we tried it last year against the best in the world. He didn’t get it done that day but I still think we’ll continue to look for a one-turn mile, some seven-furlong races. It seems like he likes his races spaced a little apart, he’s off to a good start. He doesn’t have any physical problems and Gary wants even more blinkers on him, so this could be really interesting.

“Dubai could be a conversation but…if you take him over there you also take the chance at six months off. I’m thinking we’re going to look at everything but it was a really good day. I knew he was coming today because he’s got that unbelievable kick.”