Kowboy Karma, Jehozacat worth following Saturday at Monmouth
With Saratoga and Del Mar reaching their crescendo, it’s easy for Monmouth Park’s two-year-old features to get lost in the shuffle on Saturday. But then you might miss the newest Larry Jones star, or the next blueblood celebrity for Lael Stables.
That Jones juvenile would be #6 Kowboy Karma, who makes his two-turn debut in the Sapling (10TH race). Bred by the trainer and his wife, Cindy, they also race him in partnership with Michael Pressley. The immediate pedigree doesn’t scream fashion – by Kodiak Kowboy and out of the Any Given Saturday mare Just Jan – but his second dam, the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Alyssum, is a daughter of Storm Cat and champion Althea. So there’s a world of substance in the female line, through Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee (his fourth dam) to the deep family of Hall of Famer Swaps and a legion of others. One recent flagbearer for a different branch of this line was rather popular. California Chrome.
Kowboy Karma takes a class hike off two sprint wins at Delaware Park, but in truth, the gelding looked like a man among boys on both occasions. After a 12-length laugher in his debut, he was kept under wraps by Alex Cintron in the Strike Your Colors and strode clear by one of the easiest 2 1/2-length margins you’ll ever see. A mile should be well within his compass, and he already owns a decisive advantage over his rivals in BRIS Prime Power (136.8). Kowboy Karma may well go off much shorter than his 5-2 morning line, but he’s worth watching attentively in this spot. Graded territory is surely next if all goes according to plan. Jones hasn’t been able to contain his enthusiasm about Kowboy Karma when speaking to Frank Vespe of TheRacingBiz.com, and if he’s right, the enthusiasm will be infectious.
As a value play, #9 Bal Harbour (5-1) is very intriguing. The “third Pletcher” if you go by the morning line preferring the other two from the barn, the Red Oak Stable homebred ran better-than-appears races when fifth in the Sanford (G3) and fourth in the Saratoga Special (G2). The son of First Samurai and Monmouth stakes-winning sprinter Casino Transaction, despite that speed-oriented parentage, is actually grinding on at the conclusion as though he’d appreciate more ground. Although it’s highly subjective, I’m not sure Bal Harbour was striding out or levelling off as fluently at Saratoga as he did in his first two starts at Gulfstream Park. Perhaps the switch to the Jersey Shore, and the stretch-out, will be the key. Chris DeCarlo has the mount too.
Turning to the fillies, the six-furlong Sorority (8TH race) marks the stakes debut of #8 Jehozacat (9-2), the Lael blueblood alluded to above. She qualifies for that label, being by leading sire Tapit and out of multiple Grade 1 heroine and $1.9 million-earner Precious Kitten (herself a half to Kitten’s Joy). The union of Tapit and Precious Kitten has already produced one major stakes winner, Divining Rod, the 2015 Lexington (G3) victor and Preakness (G1) third who missed by a head in last November’s Cigar Mile (G1).
While the exploits of her full brother made Jehozacat an interesting debutante at Laurel, the Arnaud Delacour trainee rose on her own merits with a smashing win. The gray traveled comfortably with a pace rival before taking sole command, appeared to be working hard on her left lead in upper stretch, but zoomed once switching to her right lead. Bounding away by 5 1/2 lengths, Jehozacat inspired track announcer Dave Rodman to tweet how she “demonstrates some star power.” Let’s hope we see it again, this time in the hands of new rider Nik Juarez.