Kodiak Kowboy, unbeaten in his last three races, will attempt to add another black-type victory to his resume when he faces six other 2-year-olds in Aug. 16 Saratoga Special (gr. II) at 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga.
Highweighted at 122 pounds, the Kentucky-bred juvenile is trained by Steve Asmussen, who knows what it takes to win the event. In 2003, Cuvee gave the 41-year-old trainer his first Saratoga Special victory and went on to capture the Futurity Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park that year.
Kodiak Kowboy, who will enter the Saratoga Special off back-to-back stakes wins in the June 17 Victoria at Woodbine and the July 7 Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, is from the first crop by Posse. Asmussen trained the son of Silver Deputy five years ago to win three graded stakes, including the 2003 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont.
When comparing sire to son, Asmussen said: “Both of them matured mentally and physically. Kodiak Kowboy is a nice, precocious horse and he wanted to win early. We wanted to prove his sire. He is so easy to be around.”
"If anything, (Kodiak Kowboy's) last race was impressive,” Asmussen said of the Bashford Manor. “He’s a kind of horse that you can ship twice where he runs, shows up, and comes back to run his race."
Trainer Todd Pletcher has yet to win a Saratoga Special. Last year, he missed by three-quarters of a length with King of the Roxy. This time, he will send out Michael Tabor’s The Roundhouse, who last ran third to stablemate Ready's Image in the July 26 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus broke his maiden first time out at Monmouth Park June 15.
The Saratoga Special has been special in the past for Stanley Hough, who is shooting for his third win in the race with Sargent Seattle, who prevailed in his career debut by 6 1/2 lengths at Saratoga July 25. Hough previously took the Saratoga Special with Caller I.D. in 1991 and All Chatter in 1996.
Coming off a solid pair of four-furlong works over the Saratoga main track, Sargent Seattle is ready to handle other winners, Hough said. “I don’t see any excuses here; he came out of his race in good shape and has worked well since,” he said. “He ran better than I had hoped. He has got some talent.”
A $475,000 graduate of the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale, the colt is owned by Paul Robsham Stable.
Rounding out the field are Riley Tucker, Make the Point, and Betatron, who all broke their maidens last time out by 4 3/4 lengths, six lengths, and 1 3/4 lengths, respectively; and Little Nick, who is looking to make up for his unplaced effort in the Sanford.
Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II), $150,000, Aug. 16, 2-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs, approx. post 4:48 p.m. EST
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Kodiak Kowboy, 122, Shaun Bridgmohan
2. Betatron, 118, Julien Leparoux
3. Sargent Seattle, 118, Javier Castellano
4. Make the Point, 118, Ramon Dominguez
5. Riley Tucker, 118, Edgar Prado
6. Little Nick, 118, Kent Desormeaux
7. The Roundhouse, 118, Garrett Gomez