06/15/2013 8:20PM

Hollywood Park: Kobe's Back overcomes poor start to win Proctor Memorial

Kobe's Back
Kobe's Back, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, won the Willard Proctor Memorial in his first start Saturday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The first-time starter Kobe’s Back had such a lofty reputation among the 2-year-olds trained at Betfair Hollywood Park that he was the 9-5 favorite in Saturday’s $101,000 Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes.

The hype was justified.

Despite spotting his rivals about four lengths after a poor start, Kobe’s Back rallied past eight rivals in the stretch to win the Proctor by a convincing 3 1/4 lengths. Kobe’s Back ($5.60) ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.42.

While the start concerned winning jockey Rafael Bejarano, the rally that Kobe’s Back displayed was not a surprise to the leading rider.

“He’s been working so good,” Bejarano said. “I knew I was on a class horse. I took a hold and made one run. The way he was closing, I knew I had a lot of horse.”

Bejarano said he thought he could win the race with a half-mile remaining. At that stage, Kobe’s Back was last of nine, trailing the pacesetting Time for a Hug by seven lengths while racing wide. With a furlong remaining, Willie B Awesome led by 2 1/2 lengths, with Kobe’s Back still seventh, trailing by four lengths. He took the lead in the final sixteenth.

The rough start did not overly concern winning trainer John Sadler, who has watched Kobe’s Back work quickly at times through the spring.

“I wasn’t that nervous,” Sadler said. “He’ll run on. It’s pretty exciting.”

Sadler considered scratching Kobe’s Back as recently as Thursday in favor of a maiden race later this month but opted to stay in the stakes.

Willie B Awesome, an 8-1 chance, finished second, a neck in front of 13-1 Solid Wager. One More finished fourth, followed by California Chrome, Time for a Hug, Go First, Street Icon, and Geldautomat.

Kobe’s Back is owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable. A colt by Flatter, Kobe’s Back was purchased for $480,000 at the March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.

The victory was worth $60,000.

Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
Very impressive, heard his name for the first time this month. Good pedigree. Would love to see him run a two turn mile. One to watch for later this year.
Dick More than 1 year ago
He will be a good horse but lets not get ahead of ourselves.... Who knows if he will two turn or not.... Might just be a a one turn horse.....
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Breathtaking effort from Kobe. He was so composed before the race, although something went off at the start. He is well built, of medium build and excellent comformation, and he has a stride about twice as long as anyone else in the Proctor. He really does eat up ground. The last sixteenth and the gallop out were just awesome. But he didn't run fast. I will need to see him run fast before I start handing him the Derby or Breeder's Cup. Maybe all it will take for him to run fast is a decent break.
Kelsey More than 1 year ago
For his next few races, you won't see 9-5 again. The CRK stable seems to heat up around this time of year with their young horses.
John More than 1 year ago
Wow ! Lets hope he stays healthy , he was just toying with that field, can you say "Breeders Cup "
MD23 More than 1 year ago
This horse is a freak. You break like that and then run by everyone and win going away in your first start? Wow. And his gallop was encouraging. Looked like he wanted to keep going! They'll space his races out. They don't want to run too much too often. It's very, very early in the year and you want him to be a fresh horse going into his 3 year old season.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
Reminds me of I Want Revenge in the Wood Memorial a few years a go.
Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
Memo to John Sadler. Put this colt away. He's a Derby horse...
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
he beat a field of 2 yolds at 5 and 1/2 furlongs.....
Bravo_puppies More than 1 year ago
So did I'll Have Another.
Anthony Guererro More than 1 year ago
That would be and under statement come next March 2014 ok just wait you will see