Dismissed at nearly 20-1 odds, making him the longest shot in the six-horse field, the Jump Start colt rallied smartly from last to score by 2 1/4 lengths in his stakes debut. Just Call Kenny dispatch front-runner Hollywood Talent in the final furlong and comfortably held back runner-up C. Zee for the win.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Just Call Kenny was timed in 1:10.58 for the six furlongs. He provided his connections a quite unexpected victory in a stakes after their original plans for an allowance event the same day fell through when the race did not fill.
"Our plan was to back off horses and pick up a little check here," New Jersey-based trainer Patrick McBurney said. "Joe said he really took off when he asked him.
"There was an allowance race scheduled for today, and we wanted to get a sprint allowance into him before stretching him out to a mile. When the allowance didn't fill, the racing office said this race is here, and we went in. It worked out well."
The race also worked out well for Bravo, who piloted his second stakes winner on the card. The rider also won the Marshua's River Stakes (gr. IIIT) with Naples Bay one race earlier.
Just Call Kenny posted his second win from three lifetime starts. He scored a debut victory at Monmouth Park last August and was a second in an allowance/optional claiming race as the 7-10 pick Oct. 2 at Laurel Park to conclude his juvenile season.
"Getting ready (for his 2014 debut), he acted like he could really run, and he's a huge colt on top of it for a 3-year-old," McBurney said. "He had a huge turn of foot coming off the pace at Monmouth, which was a speed track also, so we had high hopes for him."
As expected, speed-loving Corfu sprinted to the early lead and set a swift pace, clocking :22.18 and :45.12 through a half-mile, with Hollywood Talent chasing from second before taking a narrow lead in early stretch. Just Call Kenny, relaxing in last after breaking a step slowly, was ready for a superlative effort and overwhelmed his opponents after finding an opening in midstretch.
Fifth at the half-mile mark, C. Zee closed well to finish second, three lengths ahead of Hollywood Talent. Trail Blaze, the 6-5 favorite, finished fourth after being briefly in contention on the final turn while stablemate Corfu, the 5-2 second choice, faded to last.
"This horse has really had a lot of talent all along," said Bravo, Just Call Kenny's regular rider. "We always had high hopes for him, but if you look he's a big playboy. Flashy horse, always had other things on his mind. Today, when he had those other horses run away from him he was like, 'Hey, where are they going? Let me catch up.' Man, you saw the move; he did to catch up.
"That was a pretty eye-opening race that he ran today. His better races are going to be going further in the future. We don't know about the future yet, but hopefully we'll find out."
Just Call Kenny earned $60,000 for the partnership that includes ABL Stable and Phantom House Farm. Bred in Virginia by Althea Richards out of the winning Green Dancer mare Green Jeans, the dark bay or brown colt was a $35,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale purchase in 2012 by partnership manager John Forbes out of the Dapple Stud consignment.
Just Call Kenny returned $41.80, $11.40, and $5 for the win, while C. Zee paid $6.20 and $3.80. The 1-4 exacta paid $221. Hollywood Talent paid $4 to show.