04/04/2009 11:00PM

Kodiak Kowboy up in time


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Aqueduct's homestretch is 1,155 feet long, and Kodiak Kowboy ($5.80) needed all of them to run down a determined Fabulous Strike in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap.

Making his second start as a 4-year-old for trainer Larry Jones, Kodiak Kowboy was next to last in the early going, as Fabulous Strike set fractions of 22.23 and 44.52 seconds under pressure from Driven by Success.

Fabulous Strike finally shook off Driven by Success coming to the eighth pole and opened a daylight lead after six furlongs in 1:09.26, but the 123-pound highweight then began to drift out. Meanwhile, Kodiak Kowboy had gathered a full head of steam rallying widest into the stretch under John Velazquez, and sustained a long grinding charge to get up by a head in the final strides.

"He makes you work for it, but he runs," said Velazquez. "At the eighth pole I was very confident, and when I got to the sixteenth pole he started to slow down a little bit. I said, 'Oh no, buddy, you got to keep going.' Then he jumped a footprint near the wire."

In a gutsy performance, Fabulous Strike held second by two lengths over the New York-bred Driven by Success.

Biker Boy, coupled in the wagering with the winner, finished fourth. The order of finish was completed by True Quality, Ah Day, Understatement, and Tale of Ekati, who trailed throughout as the second choice.

A durable sprinter who has now won graded stakes three straight years, Kodiak Kowboy carried 118 pounds, and ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.47 over a fast main track. He improved to 8-3-2 from 17 lifetime starts for Fox Hill Farm and Vinery Stables. In his first Grade 1 win, Kodiak Kowboy earned $180,000 to push his career earnings to $1,035, 558.

"He's got two Grade 2's at Saratoga" - the Saratoga Special at 2 and the Amsterdam at 3 - "and now has a Grade 1 here," said co-owner Tom Ludt, president of Vinery Stables. "We're going to aim for another Grade 1 at Saratoga," referring to the Forego on Sept. 5.