The 5-year-old Irish-bred gained his first victory in five starts since racing under similar conditions in March at Santa Anita, as comebacker Whilly, the 7-2 second choice, was shut off at the top the stretch and 19-10 favorite Quasimodo took up sharply turning for home.
Whilly, a multiple graded stakes winner ridden by David Cohen, rallied for third, two lengths behind runner-up Unfurl the Flag and jockey Patrick Valenzuela. Quasimodo finished sixth in a field reduced to nine by the late scratch of Apalachee Tiger.
The winning time for the first running of the War Chant was 1:32.87.
"I've ridden Unfurl the Flag before, and I know how gutty he is," Nakatani said afterward, "so I didn't want to give him too much of a breather around the far turn. I thought I had him measured, but we went neck-and-neck to the wire. They both ran real good."
Place Cowboy paid $15.40, $8.20 and $3.80. Unfurl the Flag returned $6.60 and $3.40 while Whilly paid $4 to show.
Trained by James Cassidy for the Gould Family Trust, Place Cowboy earned $39,330 from his third victory in 17 lifetime starts to elevate his career bankroll to $203,560. The victory followed a 2 ½-month freshening.
"The horse runs well fresh," said Cassidy. "After his last race (July 29 at Del Mar), I decided to give him some time off. The last time he won (March 9 at Santa Anita), he was coming off a ten-month layoff."