Carter Handicap (gr. I) victor Kodiak Kowboy heads the field for trainer Larry Jones in the $250,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) on the main track May 2.
The seven-furlong event is one of six graded stakes on the May 2 program headed by the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Nine are entered, led by Kodiak Kowboy, a multiple graded stakes-winning son of Posse owned by Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farms.
Kodiak Kowboy became a grade I winner when he charged five wide down the Aqueduct homestretch to nip Fabulous Strike by a head as part of a favored entry in the seven-furlong Carter on April 4. Not only does the 4-year-old bay colt like the distance, but he's also won two of three tries on Churchill's main track. He finished second in last year's Derby Trial.
In 17 lifetime starts, Kodiak Kowboy has an 8-3-2 record with earnings of $1,035,558. Though he was ridden in the Carter by John Velazquez, Kodiak Kowboy will have regular rider Gabriel Saez back in the saddle for the Churchill Downs. The Kentucky-bred will carry high weight of 124 pounds while breaking from post 3.
B. Wayne Hughes' My Pal Charlie tries to end a four-race losing streak since capturing the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs last September for trainer Albert Stall Jr. The 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt has started three times in 2009 and is coming off his best effort of the trio when he finished third, just 1 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Eternal Star, in Keeneland's seven-furlong Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II) April 11. My Pal Charlie led in the Commonwealth while racing off the rail but weakened late.
Garrett Gomez takes over for the first time on My Pal Charlie, who is stuck with the rail post. The Kentucky bred, with three wins from 15 starts, gets two pounds from the favorite.
The multiple stakes winner Spotsgone enjoys the lead but he'll likely have company this time as he shortens up in distance while facing speedy types such as fellow Oaklawn Park shipper Accredit and Hewitts, in from California for Bob Hess Jr.
Winless since taking the Essex Handicap in Arkansas in February 2008, Spotsgone just missed going gate-to-wire while finishing second in the Fifth Season at Oaklawn April 9. Spotsgone has eight lifetime wins in 38 starts and earnings of nearly $500,000.
Accredit comes off a third-place finish in the Count Fleet (gr. III) at Oaklawn April 10. Hewitts had a troubled run in the Shakertown (gr. IIIT) on Keeneland's turf course April 11, finishing sixth.
Sok Sok has started in just three races since December 2007, but the Fair Grounds standout has won two of them for trainer Steve Asmussen, including the six-furlong Kenner Stakes over his favorite track on sloppy going March 14.
Likewise, Michael Tabor's The Roundhouse may appreciate an off-track. He won an allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths in the slop March 19 at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.
$250,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 1:21 p.m), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. My Pal Charlie (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez
2. The Roundhouse (KY), 118, Edgar S. Prado
3. Kodiak Kowboy (KY), 124, Gabriel Saez
4. Ide Like a Double (LA), 118, Robby Albarado
5. Spotsgone (KY), 118, Joe M. Johnson
6. Accredit (FL), 118, Julien R. Leparoux
7. Hewitts (FL), 118, Joseph Talamo
8. Silver Edition (KY), 118, Miguel Mena
9. Sok Sok(FL), 118, Shaun Bridgmohan