02/07/2016 5:39PM

Kobe's Back slow early, fast late in Palos Verdes

Benoit & Associates
Kobe's Back (left), ridden by Gary Stevens, runs down Salutos Amigo to snap a five-race losing streak in the Palos Verdes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The addition of blinkers for Kobe’s Back in Sunday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita did not change the veteran sprinter’s running style. He still drops far back and makes a furious rally.

In the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, that late kick was successful. Ending a five-race losing streak, Kobe’s Back ($7) caught 7-5 favorite Salutos Amigos in the final strides to win the six-furlong Palos Verdes by a half-length.

The Palos Verdes equaled the most prestigious win of Kobe’s Back’s career. The son of Flatter won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds in 2014. In his 17-race career, Kobe’s Back has won four stakes and earned $772,330.

Sunday’s result gave owners Lee and Susan Searing and trainer Peter Eurton confidence the addition of blinkers was a help.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Kobe’s Back broke slowly and trailed pacesetter Rocket Heat by 10 1/2 lengths after an opening quarter-mile in 21.88 seconds. Kobe’s Back was last with a quarter-mile remaining, trailing by a little more than eight lengths, but closed well to catch Salutos Amigos in the final 75 yards.

 “I never felt like we were completely out of it,” Eurton said.

Kobe’s Back was timed in 1:08.70.

The slow start is common for Kobe’s Back, and did not discourage Eurton.

“We’ll take it,” he said. “It was in the same area code.”

The Palos Verdes was Kobe’s Back’s first start since a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland on Oct. 31. Last October, Kobe’s Back was second by a neck in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, closing from 16 lengths off the pace to just miss.

The Palos Verdes was Kobe’s Back’s first win since the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland last April.

Salutos Amigos, the 6-year-old multiple stakes winner, looked like a winner in early stretch, but could not hold off Kobe’s Back.

“I had a good trip behind the speed,” jockey Rafael Bejarano said. “The winner was much the best.”

Lee Searing said he is leaning toward Grade 1 races at seven furlongs or a mile for Kobe’s Back in coming months. Kobe’s Back has been invited to the $2 million Golden Shaheen at six furlongs in Dubai on March 26, but Searing said he prefers an American campaign.