08/13/2007 11:00PM

Kodiak Kowboy fits pattern

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Kodiak Kowboy wins the Bashford Manor for his third straight victory.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A bit of patience has paid off for trainer Steve Asmussen in two of the last three runnings of the Saratoga Special. He hopes that same ideology works again Thursday when he sends out the multiple stakes winner Kodiak Kowboy in the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special.

In 2003 with Cuvee, and again last year with Chace City, Asmussen chose to skip the first 2-year-old stakes of the Saratoga meet - the Sanford - to give his colts more time to recover from busy starts to their careers. Cuvee won the 2003 Special, and Chace City romped in this race last year, when he was trained by Scott Blasi, who oversaw Asmussen's stable while he served a suspension.

Both horses had their prior race in the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in early July. Such is the case with Kodiak Kowboy, who, unlike his predecessors, won the Grade 3 Bashford Manor, his third straight win after losing his debut going two furlongs at Woodbine.

"Our theory was it's just putting a little too much on them too soon," Asmussen said. "Last year, Chace City ran in the same races as Kodiak Kowboy and had success. He won the race at Woodbine, and timing-wise he came up here and ran exceptional. That's what we tried to follow with Kodiak Kowboy this year."

Last year, Chace City won the Victoria at Woodbine before encountering trouble in the Bashford Manor and running sixth. Kodiak Kowboy also won the Victoria but had no trouble winning the Bashford Manor by 2 3/4 lengths, running six furlongs in 1:09.15.

Following the Bashford Manor, Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm purchased a half-interest in the colt from Vinery Stables. Kodiak Kowboy will break from the rail under Shaun Bridgmohan, the colt's fifth rider.

The Roundhouse, a half-brother to last year's Hopeful winner, Circular Quay, finished a troubled third in the Sanford. He was cut off entering the far turn, then was bumped several times around the turn. He came into the stretch seven wide, yet finished strongly to end up just four lengths behind stablemate Ready's Image. He was beaten a nose for second.

"I thought it was very good," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He had some traffic issues around the turn; the horse inside of him bumped him three or four times. It probably cost him second."

Riley Tucker and Sargent Seattle were both very sharp in their debut victories at Belmont and Saratoga, respectively.