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Rick Porter of co-owners Fox Hill Farm leads Kodiak Kowboy and Sean Bridgmohan to the winner's circle.
The juvenile action continued at Saratoga on Thursday with the running of the $150,000 Saratoga Special (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. A field of six 2-year-old males entered before an on-track crowd of 19,446, with Todd Pletcher trainee The Roundhouse sent off as the 6-5 favorite off a third place finish in the Sanford. In to challenge him were 5-2 second choice Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs, and 3-1 third choice Riley Tucker, runaway winner of his debut at Belmont in July.
Kodiak Kowboy draws away from Riley Tucker in the stretch
Soon after the start, a pace duel ensued between 14-1 Little Nick and Riley Tucker through a quarter in 22.07 and a half in 44.97. Kodiak Kowboy settled in midpack third while The Roundhouse was unhurried sitting last down the backstretch. Turning for home, Little Nick tired and faded to an eventual fifth place finish, while Kodiak Kowboy came through between him and Riley Tucker to take over the lead at the 3/16 pole. The Roundhouse came out four wide into the lane and put in a late rally but was no match for Kodiak Kowboy who drew away late to win by 3 lengths in 1:15.95. It was a long 5 1/4 lengths back from The Roundhouse to Riley Tucker in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Kodiak Kowboy Bridgmohan 6.80 3.20 2.20 7 The Roundhouse Gomez 2.60 2.10 5 Riley Tucker Prado 2.50 Winning Time: 1:15.95 $2 Exacta 1-7 14.60 $2 Trifecta 1-7-5 28.20
Kodiak Kowboy in the winner's circle. His trainer Steve Asmussen (far left) said, "He ran well. The concern today was the inside (post). He had such a beautiful stalking trip in all three of his victories; (in those races) he was in a 3-wide stalking position. Today, he overcame a little bit. What I love was that, down in between horses, he was looking for somewhere to go, and when it opened up, he punched through nicely. I think the final time was excellent for a 2-year-old. It looks like he'll be able to stretch out, and we're hoping to run him in the Belmont Futurity."
Kodiak Kowboy returns after the race. His jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said, "I saw the hole turning for home, and he was willing. He did everything I wanted and was very gutsy today. He got a lot out of this race. He was professional in doing it. He broke smartly, and he rated himself a little bit. The horses were going pretty good up front, and he sat in behind them pretty nicely and it opened up right at the top of the stretch. When I pointed him, he was just willing and just shot right through there. Then, he went about his business. It was pretty professional for a 2-year-old. I had a comfortable lead, and I knew The Roundhouse would be coming, but I knew I had enough to hang on."
Second place finisher The Roundhouse runs out after the race. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He's getting better each time. He was second best today. Obviously, he needs more distance and we're looking forward to stretching him out." His jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I had a really good trip. It was the third start of his life, and he is showing talent to start off. He handled the situation really well. He punched in the way we were hoping for, but the winner got through and was one of the horses right off the pace. That was one of our main concerns. But our horse ran real good."
Third place finisher Riley Tucker heads out for the post parade. Riley Tucker was bumped at the start, stalked Little Nick down the backstretch, and drifted out slightly down the stretch to finish third under jockey Edgar Prado. He improved his record to 1 win and 1 third in 2 starts with earnings of $46,200 for owner Zayat Stables LLC and trainer Bill Mott.
Former New York City Mayor and Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination Rudy Giuliani studies his program at Saratoga.
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