11/11/2017 8:40PM

Kaabraaj returns to top form in Luke Kruytbosch Stakes

Coady Photography/Turf Paradise
Kaabraaj and jockey Scott Stevens return to the winner's circle after the Luke Kruytbosch Stakes on Saturday.

PHOENIX – Kaabraaj was the top sprinter here early during the 2016-2017 season, romping in the Bienvenidos and Luke Kruytbotsch. But he suffered a setback, wasn’t seen for seven months, and came back in modest form.

Kaabraaj has found his game again, easily defending his title in Saturday’s renewal of the $30,000 Luke Kruytbosch at Turf Paradise.

Kaabraaj went right to the lead in the six-furlong event, took immediate pressure from 3-5 favorite Shrewd Move through sizzling splits of 21.86 and 43.97, rebuffed that foe into the lane, and cruised to a 2 1/4-length win under Scott Stevens.

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Keller’s Gold rallied from fourth to finish second, while Leadem in Ken chased the dueling leaders and stayed on well for third in the field of nine. Shrewd Move, who won the Bienvenidos here Oct. 14, ended up up fifth.

Kaabraaj ran the distance in 1:09.25 and paid $9.80 to win. The winner’s share of $17,856 pushes his earnings to $160,421 from seven wins in 26 starts.

Kaabraaj missed the 2017 Phoenix Gold Cup, the meet’s marquee event, but that Feb. 10 race surely figures on his radar this meet. First, though, may come the $30,000 Hank Mills Sr. Handicap Jan. 20. A 5-year-old gelded son of Abraaj, Kaabraaj is owned by Warlock Stables and Horseplayers Racing Club 240 and trained by Jeff Metz,

* Fight to Glory ran third to B C Z Middleton in the Princess of Palms here Oct. 21, but turned the tables on that foe Saturday, capturing the $30,000 City of Phoenix Stakes.

Fight to Glory went right out to a clear lead in the six-furlong event under Andrew Ramgeet, and kept B C Z Middleton at bay to win by a length. B C Z Middleton chased Fight to Glory and finished second, with Listo third in the field of seven fillies and mares.

Fight to Glory, owned by Charles Garvey and trained by Robertino Diodoro, ran the distance in 1:09.70 and paid $3.80 to win. The winner’s share of $18,228 gives her earnings of $71,357 from four wins in nine starts. The $25,000 Sun Devil here Jan. 20 could be next spot for the top two to renew their rivalry.