Kobe's Back takes the 2016 San Carlos after exploding through the stretch at Santa Anita

Kobe's Back takes the 2016 San Carlos after exploding through the stretch at Santa Anita

Benoit Photography

Kobe's Back Seeks Return to Winning Form in Kona Gold

Four-time graded winner is back for another season as a 6-year-old.

Kobe's Back  has a few reasons to improve in the $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes (G2) May 20 at Santa Anita Park.

In his first start of 2017, the four-time graded winner took on top competition in the Triple Bend Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, endured a troubled trip, and ended up crossing the wire fifth.

"I think he probably needed the race," trainer Peter Eurton said of the late-running gray sprinter who had not raced in more than eight months. "Then he took a bad step, which led to a back thing and a foot thing. But he's still got it and he's shown us in the mornings he still wants it.

"He's only 6 years old, which isn't that old when they're lightly raced like he is."

From 21 starts the son of Flatter  has five wins, which have all come in stakes, including back-to-back scores in the Palos Verdes (G2) and San Carlos (G2) stakes in 2016 at Santa Anita.

LEWYN: Kobe's Back Roars to San Carlos Win

In to challenge Kobe's Back are a trio of graded winners—Calculator, Kentuckian, and Lord Simba—although only the Bob Baffert-trained Lord Simba has earned that distinction recently, with a last-out victory in the April 15 Los Angeles Stakes (G3). Kentuckian and Calculator's graded victories came in 2015, when they were both 3-year-olds.

BALAN: Lord Simba Runs Away With Los Angeles

Rounding out the field is graded stakes-placed Moe Candy, who ran sixth last time out in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park; second-place Los Angeles finisher Eastwood; stakes-placed Touched by Autism, who last won at Golden Gate Fields in December; and last-out optional-claiming allowance winners Ransom the Moon and Dr. Dorr.

Entries: Kona Gold S. (G2)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, May 20, 2017, Race 9

  • Grade II
  • 6 1/2f
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 5:00 PM (local)
11Moe Candy (KY)Santiago Gonzalez122John W. Sadler5/1
22Calculator (FL)Norberto Arroyo, Jr.122Peter Miller7/2
33Kobe's Back (KY)Gary L. Stevens122Peter Eurton9/2
44Kentuckian (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTyler Baze122Jerry Hollendorfer12/1
55Touched by Autism (CA)Tiago Josue Pereira122Marcia Stortz30/1
66Ransom the Moon (ON)Flavien Prat122Philip D'Amato4/1
77Lord Simba (KY)Martin Garcia122Bob Baffert5/2
88Eastwood (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoseph Talamo122Richard E. Mandella6/1