03/12/2016 8:00PM

Kobe's Back uses big move on turn to take San Carlos

Barbara D. Livingston
Kobe's Back, with Gary Stevens aboard, wins his second straight stakes in the San Carlos.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Kobe’s Back was labeled a stretch runner in his first three years on the track. Jockey Gary Stevens says Kobe’s Back deserves a broader label this year as a 5-year-old.

In Saturday’s $301,035 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita, Kobe’s Back rallied from last in a field of eight to win his second consecutive stakes for the first time in his 18-race career. Stevens said the rally that Kobe’s Back launched on the turn of the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs was as important as the horse’s effort in the final furlong.

“He’s been a stretch runner and he’s a good turn runner,” Stevens said. “He runs the turn and he makes up ground on the turn. It gives you a lot of confidence.”

Sent off as the favorite, Kobe’s Back ($6) won the San Carlos Stakes with a wide rally, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Coastline, a 13-1 outsider. Calculator, the 5-2 second choice, finished third.

Kobe’s Back won the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs on Feb. 7 in his first start of the year and first career race with blinkers. The equipment has been a contributing factor in his rise to the top of California’s sprint division this winter.

“I think you have to hand it to his maturity, blinkers, Gary Stevens, and the guys at the barn,” trainer Peter Eurton said.

Kobe’s Back, who races for Lee and Susan Searing, trailed early leader Mystery Train by about nine lengths after an opening quarter-mile in 22.79 seconds. Still last after a half-mile, Kobe’s Back began to close well on the turn. He was fifth with a furlong remaining, but trailed stretch leader Cautious Giant by less than two lengths.

“It seems like he was always within striking range to win it,” Eurton said.

Kobe’s Back was timed in 1:22.20.

Coastline, who won the Clocker’s Corner Stakes on the hillside turf course on Jan. 24, closed from fifth to finish second, edging Calculator by a half-length.

Calculator won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes in January 2015 and was off for 13 months because of injury. Calculator won an optional claimer in his return on Feb. 13.

“He might have gotten a little tired,” trainer Peter Miller said. “I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet. Kobe’s Back is a good sprinter.”

Kobe’s Back, by Flatter, has won 5 of 18 starts and earned $952,250. Eurton said the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes at seven furlongs on May 7 is a possible goal for Kobe’s Back.

“We’ll try to get on a roll,” Eurton said.