Much like he did earlier in the year in the Carter Handicap (gr. I), Kodiak Kowboy ran down odds-on favorite Fabulous Strike in the final yards to claim the $400,000 Vosburgh (gr. I) (VIDEO) by a half-length Oct. 3 at Belmont Park. It was the sixth graded stakes victory for the 4-year-old son of Posse.
Racing through heavy rain and fog, Kodiak Kowboy trailed his three rivals through the early stages of the six-furlong Vosburgh, gained ground on the turn, then was angled out by Shaun Bridgmohan for his stretch drive. The bay colt had plenty of ground to make up on Fabulous Strike, who took the lead from pacesetter Go Go Shoot nearing the quarter-pole and was clear by two lengths with a furlong remaining.
Fabulous Strike was still running well inside the sixteenth-pole, but Kodiak Kowboy continued his charge from the outside and went by in the last couple jumps. The final time on a main track labeled “sloppy” was 1:10.08. Munnings was 3 1/2 lengths back of Fabulous Strike in third.
“I was on him when he won the Saratoga Special," Bridgmohan said. "He was a pro even back then. When he was transferred to Steve Asmussen’s barn, I was excited because I knew I had a shot at getting back on him. Today, when I hit him left-handed, he really dug in gamely.”
Owned by Fox Hill Farm and Vinery Stables, Kodiak Kowboy was transferred back to the barn of Steve Asmussen for the Vosburgh after making his last 11 starts for Larry Jones. The colt made the first 10 starts of his career for Asmussen.
Kodiak Kowboy met Fabulous Strike for the first time this season in the April 4 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and though that race was at seven furlongs, it was not much different than the Vosburgh. In that one, the son of Smart Strike took a lead into deep stretch before being caught by Kodiak Kowboy in the final jump. The margin was a head.
In all, Kodiak Kowboy has won three of seven starts in 2009. His most recent score was four starts back in the Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack on June 27. Last out, he was beaten a half-length by Pyro in the Sept. 5 Forego (gr. I).
Kodiak Kowboy finished third, beaten three parts of a lengths in last year’s Vosburgh. Fabulous Strike was runner-up by a head to Black Seventeen in that race. The 6-year-old gelding does have a 2007 Vosburgh victory to his credit.
"I thought we were home free until Kodiak Kowboy caught him," Fabulous Strike's trainer Todd Beattie said. "Kodiak Kowboy is a tough customer. We have been battling with him for quite a long time.
"It was obvious he ran well today. You cannot knock my horse's effort. He made a good, solid effort. I knew he handled the off going. I was surprised they finished in 1:10. I will have to talk to the owner about the Breeders' Cup.”
Kodiak Kowboy, who will likely be retired to Vinery after the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) Nov. 28 at Aqueduct, improved to 10-4-3 from 22 starts and bumped his earnings to $1,483,363. He was bred in Kentucky by Hartwell Farm and is out of the Coronado’s Quest mare Kokadrie.
Sent off as the third choice, Kodiak Kowboy paid $11.60 and $3. There was no show wagering. The exacta (4-5) was $20.40.
Go Go Shoot set the early pace by running splits of :22.33 and :45.38.