Video: Palos Verdes S. (G2)
The 5-year-old son of Flatter broke slowly—as has been customary for the gray trained by Peter Eurton—and trailed by as many as 10 1/2 lengths, but he unleashed his patented closing kick and was just able to track down Salutos Amigos in the final strides to win by a half-length.
"I know him, so we're used to it... I thought he had a chance, though," Eurton said. "At every step of the race, I never thought we were completely out of it."
The victory under Gary Stevens snapped a five-race winless streak for Kobe's Back, dating back to his score in the Commonwealth Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in April.
"(Stevens) said the (blinkers) did (help)," Eurton said after the race. "He tends to focus on the handler in the gate a little bit, and if he can see them, he tends to forget about the front part of the gate when it opens, so we're going to add a little more shade to them."
The pace was quick in front of the closing winner, as Rocket Heat sprinted out of the gate—with Cautious Giant pressing the pace early—and set fractions of :21.88 and :44.45 through a half-mile. Kobe's Back pulled within 4 1/2 lengths of new leader Cautious Giant at the top of the stretch, and Salutos Amigos took command at the sixteenth pole, but neither could hold off the winner, who hit the wire in 1:08.70 for six furlongs.
"They still ran pretty fast—that's (1:08) and change. That's pretty tough to catch," Eurton said. "He can almost run with anybody, except maybe like a Runhappy ."
Cautious Giant held for third, 1 1/2 lengths back, followed by Rocket Heat and Pulling G's, to complete the order of finish. Mystery Train was scratched before the day's races began.
Kobe's Back paid $7, $3.40, and $2.40 as the 5-2 second choice. Salutos Amigos brought $2.80 and $2.20, while Cautious Giant delivered $3 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Joanne Mummert, out of the Well Decorated mare Well, Kobe's Back has a 4-3-2 record from 17 starts with earnings of $772,250 for C R K Stable.
Eurton said Kobe's Back has been invited to participate in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) March 26 at Meydan, but didn't indicate whether he was considering shipping overseas.
"We're going to discuss it and enjoy this, because it doesn't happen very often, and go from there," Eurton said.