Kodiak Kowboy has already established himself as the clear leader of the juvenile division. Now the son of Posse, out of Coronado’s Quest mare Kokadrie, will try to further cement that distinction as he headlines a field of six in the $250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II) Sept. 15 at Belmont Park.
A winner in four of five career starts, Kodiak Kowboy’s only loss came in his racing debut April 29 at Woodbine. Since then, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt has reeled off four convincing wins, including victories in the July 7 Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and most recently, a three-length score in the Aug. 16 Saratoga Special (gr. II). In that one he went 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.95.
Bred in Kentucky by Hartwell Farm, Kodiak Kowboy has already earned close to $300,000 for Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm.
“Kodiak Kowboy has always been an extremely professional horse, extremely confident and good-minded,” said Asmussen’s assistant, Scott Blasi. “He’s very professional about how he goes about his morning works and definitely turns it up to another level in the afternoons. He’s just a good, solid horse.”
Since the Saratoga Special, Kodiak Kowboy has worked three times, including a four-furlong breeze Sept. 9 at Saratoga in :48.63 over a fast track. Like the rest of the Futurity field, he will attempt seven furlongs for the first time, while drawing the six post and getting jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
“That race was the first time I sat on him, and I was very impressed,” said Bridgmohan, referring to the Special. “He did everything pretty comfortable and was very willing when that hole opened up. I asked him to go through it and he did it real professionally. He spurted on through and did everything right.
“He’s got the experience under his belt, having run five times. I believe he’s a very effective colt.”
Major competition could come from The Leopard, a $2.5-million purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale. After finishing second in his debut June 30, the Storm Cat-Moon Safari colt won a maiden special weight at Saratoga Aug. 11, scoring by a half-length while burning the six furlongs in 1:09.80.
Bred in Kentucky by Eagle Holdings, The Leopard is trained by Todd Pletcher. He runs for the partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and John Magnier.
“He’s raced inside in both starts, and I believe he’s gotten a good education so far,” said Pletcher, who won the Futurity last year with King of the Roxy. “Going into this, he might be spotting some horses like Kodiak Kowboy some seasoning, but I believe he’s learned a lot for a horse that only has two starts. He should appreciate a little more ground.”
A pair of second-time starters, Paint and Stand Pat, may also have an impact on the Futurity. Paint, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, came from off the pace to win his maiden debut by 2 1/2 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong test at Saratoga Aug. 15. Owned by Meadowview Farm, the son of Include -Pat Copelan worked four furlongs in :49.20 over a wet, fast Saratoga track Sept. 10.
Stand Pat, who draws the rail, also won in impressive fashion during his maiden debut. The Ralph Evans homebred won by three-and-a-quarter lengths at Saratoga Aug. 20, while stalking the pace. The Doneraile Court-Bay Magic colt is trained by Richard Violette.
Also in the field are Mythical Pegasus, who broke his maiden Aug. 25 at Saratoga in his third try, and Tale of Ekati, a son of Tale of the Cat . Trained by Barcaly Tagg, Tale of Ekati won by eight-and-a-quarter lengths in his Belmont debut, then finished a well-beaten second in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) July 26 at Saratoga after being interfered with at the start.
“He’s a solid colt,” Tagg said. “He’s a horse I’ve liked for quite a while. Going seven furlongs, I don’t think that will make any difference. He’s training fine going into this.”
$250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:40 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, Seven Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Stand Pat (KY), 120, Channing Hill
2. Mythical Pegasus (KY), 120, Rafael Bejarano
3. Tale of Ekati (KY), 120, Eibar Coa
4. The Leopard (KY), 120, John R. Velazquez
5. Paint (KY), 120, Alan Garcia
6. Kodiak Kowboy (KY), 120, Shaun Bridgmohan