06/23/2016 12:50PM

Kobe's Back looks to punch it in late in Triple Bend

Barbara D. Livingston
Kobe's Back is a multiple Grade 2 winner but has never won a Grade 1 race.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Kobe’s Back has had a defined style since he won the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park in his career debut in June 2013. He frequently starts slowly and follows with a thrilling stretch run. The late-running tactics have led to five stakes wins in 19 starts and earnings of $1,000,250.

This year, Kobe’s Back has won two Grade 2 sprints at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old horse has yet to win a Grade 1 race, and he will try for the seventh time in Saturday’s $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs at Santa Anita.

“I hope the horse gets away well and runs his gig,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “He’s happy.”

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Kobe’s Back is one of six stakes winners in the Triple Bend but is the only millionaire.


Kobe’s Back, by Flatter

Last 3 Beyers: 101-98-101

◗ Owned by Lee and Susan Searing, Kobe’s Back was beaten 1 3/4 lengths when third to Catalina Red in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 7. Kobe’s Back was wide at the quarter pole and was angled toward the inside by jockey Gary Stevens in the stretch, closing steadily late.

“I thought he ran a good race, considering he had to drop in,” Eurton said. “A horse wanted to fan him to the outside.”

◗ The presence of the speedy Subtle Indian should ensure a quick pace and give Kobe’s Back something to run at.

“There is a lot of pace in there on paper,” Eurton said.

Lord Nelson, by Pulpit

Last 3 Beyers: 99-92-90

◗ Lord Nelson won an optional claimer at six furlongs June 3 in his first start since running third behind Runhappy in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs last December. The Malibu was Lord Nelson’s first start since a fourth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs in May 2015.

◗ Despite the gaps between races, trainer Bob Baffert said Lord Nelson is well suited to the Triple Bend conditions.

“I’m hoping he’s back,” Baffert said. “I like the way he ran last time. He ran an unbelievable race. He’ll like one turn.”

Subtle Indian, by Indian Charlie

Last 3 Beyers: 100-102-96

◗ Subtle Indian was second by a length to Wild Dude in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 21, setting the pace to the final furlong before losing by a length. The loss ended a four-race winning streak that included the Hot Springs Stakes and Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.

◗ Trained by Robertino Diodoro, Subtle Indian will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, who recently has worked the 4-year-old gelding.

Home Run Kitten, by Kitten’s Joy

Last 3 Beyers: 89-100-74

◗ Home Run Kitten won the Grade 3 American Stakes at a mile on a wet-fast main track in a 14-1 upset on May 6, then was sixth behind Midnight Storm in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on turf June 4. Joe Talamo was aboard for those races and has the mount.

“Talamo got off him last time and said the next time he should be on turf is when you turn him out,” trainer David Hofmans said.

◗ Home Run Kitten is making his 20th start and his first in a main-track sprint.